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SME Advertising Agencies and the Transformative Eco-System

A number of SME advertising agencies that HKTDC interviewed have sensed a transformative change in the industry’s ecosystem over recent years, a consequence of the growing prevalence of digital advertising. According to these agencies, Hong Kong’s advertising industry has become more diverse and scattered. It appears that more SME agencies have entered the industry, focussing on or specialising in certain segments of the advertising value chain. There is, however, a lack of official data showing the precise number of advertising agencies or marketers in Hong Kong (as they are subsumed under the broader grouping of advertising and market research).

They suggested that the average firm size is now smaller in terms of the number of people employed, though their skill sets and specialisations allow them to more readily take advantage of new business opportunities brought about by online advertising. This has occurred against a background where advertising revenue has continued to grow in Hong Kong, though average project size and adspend has declined.

Despite this, downstream segments of the advertising industry’s value chain have seen increased activity lately. Demand is robust for ad production and for execution related to digital advertising, including online video-making and digital graphic design. Motion graphics production, for example, is one rapidly rising segment in Hong Kong. The event management segment is also playing a more important role, a move driven by growing demand for mall promotions and exhibitions and an increased emphasis on online-to-offline (O2O) interactions.

Advertisers are also placing greater emphasis on obtaining maximum return on their investment in ad campaigns, particularly in areas relating to advertisement production, execution and roadshows. As a result, advertising agencies have had to be more adaptive in order to meet their clients’ more rigorous demands with regard to the creative and operational areas of any ad campaign. With profit margins being squeezed, a number of agencies have suggested that new business models for advertising companies might be needed, as well as further exploration of those areas that may add value for advertisers.

In view of stronger demand for roadshows and mall promotions, advertising agencies could be well positioned to offer expertise on the presentational pitch and emphasis of such in situ activity, thus providing staff training to the advertiser’s promotional and sales teams.

Looking forward, some feel that the pricing model of advertising agencies may have to be altered, becoming more related to an advertiser’s actual sales or business performance after the roll-out of any promotional campaign. This could prove a win-win situation for both the advertiser and marketer. The latter could be further incentivised by the prospects of a successful advertising campaign, despite the increased scrutiny of the advertiser on return of campaign investment. Marketers, however, acknowledge that this new thinking about co-investment in ad campaigns may take quite some time to materialise. - See more at: http://economists-pick-research.hktdc.com/business-news/article/Research-Articles/Hong-Kong%E2%80%99s-Advertising-Industry--Digital-Evolution/rp/en/1/1X000000/1X0A2R8J.htm#sthash.J2USodmM.dpuf

Mobile Advertising: A Key Future Driver

As one of the fastest growing segments in digital advertising, mobile advertising allows advertisers to more closely connect with their target customers, no matter where they are. According to data released by eMarketer, global mobile advertising revenue has expanded by more than 100% annually, rising from US$1 billion in 2010 to US$19 billion in 2014. This rapid growth has resulted in a drastically increased proportion of mobile ads within digital advertising as a whole.

It is expected that the penetration of mobile devices will further enlarge the share of online advertising when compared to traditional mediums. According to Euromonitor, the proportion of mobile internet users to mobile telephone subscribers in Hong Kong increased dramatically from 18.8% in 2009 to 50.6% in 2014 and is expected to exceed 90% by 2020. This represents a huge opportunity in the mobile advertising segment.

The number of mobile internet users (i.e. those using mobile devices including smartphones and tablets) overtook those going online with personal computers on the Chinese mainland as of July 2014, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC). This provides a much larger mobile advertising market for Hong Kong ad agencies. An upcoming article will further examine the market potential and business environment of the advertising industry on the mainland.


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