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Confidence returns in APAC’s media landscape—amid an era of influence

5 minute read | October 2021

COVID-19 has tested the world—and in many ways the media industry. Early in 2020, the industry faced uncertainty, a lack of confidence and an overall pull back on spend. While digital sustained the pandemic—with social, search and video emerging as the primary focus areas—marketers are even more clear on the importance of seeing a return for their ad dollars.

To help, Nielsen has identified advanced ways marketers can drive winning outcomes in this space—after an analysis of the key trends in the industry and evaluating new areas of opportunity. In APAC, there has never been access to so much access to engaging and varied content—from global blockbusters to hyper-local, relevant content to breakout hits that find a universal audience. After 18+ months at home, audiences are consuming more content than ever before, and they’re continuously looking to be entertained. Within the Southeast Asia markets of Thailand, Philippines and Myanmar, digital penetration increased by upwards of 15%, essentially creating an entirely new audience.

  • Philippines: Internet usage has increased in the last two years from 70% during pre-pandemic Q2 2019 to 87% in Q2 2021. Smart TV increased from 7% to 17%, video on demand (VOD) viewing increased from 6% to 27%

  • Thailand: Internet penetration increased 15% during the pandemic, accelerated by rural population and the elderly generation

  • Myanmar: Amid pandemic and country instability, Myanmar internet usage has risen to +17%, bringing the people from lower middle class households in urban areas with an increase of 6% 

For the direct to consumer perspective, technology has driven this trend—utilizing digital to achieve increased engagement. Media companies, content creators and their advertisers now have newer and more direct ways to reach their consumers with engaging content and ads via streaming platforms, over-the-top (OTT) platforms, broadcaster VOD and connected devices. For example, in the Philippines, smart TV penetration increased from 7% to 17%, and VOD viewing increased from 6% to 27%. 

The recovery of confidence

We can now see an industry confidence; a confidence that reflects the willingness to spend on media. “We believe there has never been a more exciting time in the media industry.  And that is particularly the case here in Asia Pacific,” said Steven Lindsay, Executive Director, Head of Digital Measurement APAC at Nielsen during TikTok’s recent The Stage event.  

Overall, there is a healthy, dynamic and diverse ecosystem with marketers able to build a varied media plan to reach the audiences desired. With more than half of the worlds’ population, APAC is a large and diverse region. So, it is no surprise that dominant content platforms differ by market. There is a mix of global players—and local choices. Additionally, the development of each market is different: 

  • China and Korea: an ecosystem with seamless integration of e-commerce, online payment systems and content

  • India and Australia: a well-established and diverse video ecosystem

  • Southeast Asia: a whole new audience has emerged, with a real shift in viewing behavior toward digital, as evidenced in the 15% increase during the pandemic

The proof of the power of influencers

In the midst of this variety among markets, digital is the constant. And as recovering ad budgets are more focused on social, search and video, one of the fastest growing touchpoints for brands is now influencer marketing. Nicholas Bruce, Head of Consulting and Research for Asia at Nielsen, believes that influencers are incredibly powerful in connecting to the fragmented audience. 

“Where influencers are really fitting in is how they are able to deliver and reach the specific audiences they are engaged with,“ says Bruce. “Brand recall for influencer content is 4x up versus traditional digital content.” This ultimate proof point for the power of influencer marketing can best be understood by exploring the entire landscape.

Types of influencers

Overall, the growth of the influencer market is incredibly complex, with influencers at every different  level. The key to success is choosing the best roster of personalities and maximising the effectiveness of this roster.

So how do brands know which influencer is right? Nano can help reach a particular audience; a particular niche, while Mega can help with the larger campaigns. With the APAC region accounting altogether for more than 15 million influencer profiles, the majority of them are Nano influencers, or 87% of the total influencers. Instagram is the platform with the largest number of influencers, collecting 67% of the total influencers within the region. Within the cluster, Indonesia is the country with the highest number of influencers with over 7 million personality profiles.

The APAC region accounts for more than 15 million influencer profiles

Nielsen InfluenceScope

Influencers are also gaining traction because they appeal to younger demographics. With the millions of hours they spend each week on watching ad-free SVOD services, advertisers are looking for newer avenues to find these audiences and engage. Many are doing so via influencers, and they’re seeing incremental revenue gains along the way.

Importantly, influencers also drive key insights—through either in-campaign efforts in order to move the needle internally or via a thorough post campaign evaluation. Ultimately, being able to optimize the influencer and iterate throughout the campaign delivers better results. 

Previously, brands found it difficult to measure the sales or other brand KPIs outcomes attributed to influencers due to lack of quality data. Now, with access to quality data, models and consultancy to inform the Nielsen marketing mix modeling, brands have a scientific approach to calculate influencer marketing ROI—to continuously assess against benchmark and media types to drive real business outcomes.

For additional insights, watch “Winning in the Influencer Era” session from the TikTok event.

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