DIGITAL advertising has evolved over the past decade or so — and professionals are now more savvy about how they promote their brands and attract the right audiences.

However, with the explosive growth of Asia Pacific’s (APAC) digital, social, and mobile population, the opportunity for advertisers to reach consumers at any time is now enormous.

The recent expansion of technology that supports internet and mobile connections in the region enables digital advertisers to reach a plethora of audiences.

“This internet penetration across APAC will drive digital advertising growth at a faster rate than traditional advertising – television, radio, and print – over the next three to five years,” MGID CMO Nickolas Rekeda told Tech Wire Asia recently.

Advertisers have an array of ad formats at their fingertips and are experimenting with targeting techniques to maximize reach, such as dynamic creative optimization capabilities.

“These are exciting times. It is easy, however, to become fixated on the metrics of a digital ad campaign. The figures are compelling – reach, click-through rates, conversions – they draw the focus on large gains and quick sales.”

But as the digital population matures, Rekeda argues that consumers have less tolerance for intrusive ad formats and often turn to ad-blocking technology to avoid irrelevant content.

“It’s already used by almost half of internet users in APAC.

“Advertising success, as always, relies on keeping consumer needs center stage and for APAC it’s key to truly understand the differences between regional interests.”

According to the MGID CMO, although digital ad platforms are instrumental for direct sales, so far they do not match up to traditional media when it comes to brand awareness building – which is seen mostly in TV rather than digital.

But advertisers are moving away from these mass-targeting methods and towards using a mix of both traditional and digital platforms to build their brand presence.

“In digital, more budget is allocated towards performance marketing with the big players, Google and Facebook. But marketers should experiment with video, over-the-top, and native advertising methods as an alternative to drive brand performance.”

At the same time, while the advertising appeal of the duopoly shows no sign of declining, private marketplaces (PMPs) could be another way forward for advertisers, following recent brand safety concerns. Further, Rekeda believes that by combining forces, they’re now able to offer access to a significant supply of quality inventory.

“Enjoying a safe environment, complete transparency, and the ability to deliver highly relevant ads using precision targeting, advertisers can layer their own first-party data with the PMP’s unique audience data to reach the most engaged consumers.”

Emerging technologies and new opportunities for digital advertising

The rise of cheap data in APAC has led to increased consumption of content on mobile, and consumers are using multiple devices routinely as part of their daily lives.

Understanding how they use them, when, and why gives brands the ability to deliver the most relevant ad formats and messages across multiple touchpoints.

It also provides the opportunity to gather multi-layered data and combine it to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer.

“This can be used to guide customers down the sales funnel, and by using sophisticated native advertising – tailored to the device – advertisers can reduce intrusion, for an enhanced user experience.

“Understanding the complete path to purchase enables any weak points in the campaign to be addressed and will drive conversion rates. The more personally relevant those connections, the more positive relationships are built; getting this right pays dividends in lifetime customer value.”

In Thailand, for example, the internet population is close to 50 million users. Engaging mobile experiences – video content, voice-based interactions, and transformations in payment mechanisms – will drive the growth of digital media further in this region.

According to the MGID CMO, 5G will bring unprecedented opportunities for digital advertising companies, allowing them to boost connections with consumers, with interactive ad creation being a big part of the next digital advertising era.

“Faster data exchange and drastically reduced buffering will make real-time advertising the norm and create more room for innovative ad units.

“Able to target users faster, advertisers will develop highly creative in-the-moment messaging techniques and experiment with the latest video formats for increased consumer-focused engagement. This will be the advertising opportunity we’ve all been waiting for.”

Another emerging technology – the internet of things (IoT), is becoming a part of daily living, and will only grow over time.

“As nearly everyone globally relies on connectivity to power their daily lives, the IoT creates opportunities for advertisers to learn even more about consumers’ habits and preferences. This is the direction all advertising technologies are moving in – the more personal and relevant, the greater the lifetime customer value.”

As always though, a touch of caution is needed — warned Rekeda. “Too personal can be perceived as ‘creepy’”.

Marketers must keep the customer in focus at all times – watch for changes in behavior, trends, and patterns. “After all, technology is only as good as the human understanding driving it.”