How to Handle the Digital Media Revolution?

“We all know the media playing field is changing quite dramatically,” says Patrick Stahle, the Swedish CEO of Aegis Media Asia-Pacific based in Malaysia. “The question is what to do about it?

People shift the time they spend on media from traditional media to digital media. And advertisers shift from print media to electronic mass media and onwards to video and TV on demand – soon to be experienced via the mobile phone.
During the Sime conference 2009 in Stockholm – a conference about the Internet and digital opportunities – Patrick Stahle talked enthusiastic about the changes taking place as you read this.
“Most of the media owners I meet are so traditional in their thinking and they are scared stiff about what lies ahead. They used to know how to make money, but what’s it going to be like tomorrow?”

In the new media reality, brands are becoming entertainers which in Patrick Staahle’s book only makes marketing more interesting.

Groping in the dark
In this complex world of media opportunities, the rapid adoption of social networking spaces and video and photo sharing are all now widely used as part of the digital channels – mobile or Internet – across geographies and various consumer groups.

Even the largest advertisers don’t know how to navigate in this world, says the Aegis CEO.
“They are spending billions of dollars on marketing and advertising but far too little on new modern media. Like one customer told me: ‘We’re spending 90 per cent of our time and 10 per cent of our money on discussing how to deal with digital media.’ They are not equipped to address what they are experiencing as dramatic changes.”

The lessons
Aegis Media started adapting for the digital media future right after the crash of the legendary dot com boom.
“When everybody left the Internet we entered and started buying digital companies and building a global network to reach being today the largest digital network among advertising agencies in the world,”Patrick Staahle says.

The convergence of platforms and technologies has become a worldwide reality, making digitally-centric and integrated marketing campaigns a key focus for the entire advertising industry.  Video-on-demand streaming services is an example Patrick Stahle mentions, where viewers can get content financed by advertising.
“It’s not the case that consumers don’t like advertising, in fact they do provided it is relevant for them. The problem is to provide relevant advertising content for each individual. But with Internet-based television you’ll know which IP address is looking and can pinpoint exactly which profile that person has and customise the marketing message. The problem is that the media owners have not been so good at adjusting their services yet so I still get to see a lot of crap I don’t want to see as a consumer.”
“The next big thing will be when the largest media for advertisers – television – becomes really digital and not only distributed digitally, so that it turns interactive, so that you can choose yourself what to see and where etc. Then the whole advertising market will change dramatically,” he believes.

While 50 per cent of the Swedes, according to a recent report, have started watching TV on web, in Asia traditional television is by far still the dominating media for advertising. Though Patrick thinks it will eventually change here too – and much faster than in the west.
“Change will come rapidly since the technology which didn’t exist before is there now, so Asia is about to leap-frog.”

The mobile jump
“As advertising tool the mobile phone has not grown to become any significant product yet. It remains fairly private. But in the years to come when 4G can penetrate the market – then the mobile will play an entirely different role when you can choose your content and whether you want to watch it on your phone, PC or PDA.”
“The mobile phone market will grow absolutely dramatically in Asia. And as soon as bandwith increases it will be the dominating way to access the Internet.”

In for example Thailand, Digithai, which is part of Aegis network, is very successful in creating innovative Internet and mobile phone campaigns. iProspect Thailand is its search engine specialist. The iProspect office network is also present in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

From Sweden to Malaysia
Before moving to Asia Mr Stahle was the CEO for Aegis in the Nordic countries until 2006. Some time during the second quarter of 2010, Aegis will, however, already say goodbye to its Asia Pacific CEO who will pursue a non-executive career, being only 55 years old, and with a clear vision in mind: to assist entrepreneurs and businesses as a mentor within the media sector.
“I’m meeting many very clever and young entrepreneurs. I wish I had had an opportunity to get the kind of support 20 years ago, that I am able to give them today,” he says.
“I know a lot about how to develop organisations, adapt the products in order to catch clients so you have reasonable expansion models etc. I think that will be very fun.”

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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