All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. â€”Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
The states and Europe are too far from me; my limited understanding warms me of “pretending” to be an expert in those markets. I just want to share some thoughts on digital marketing (especially search) in Asia.
I’ve worked with many marketers, few of which truly understand what digital marketing is. Some immediately shut down their mind from understanding it better once they hear terms like “html tags”. In their mind, digital marketing is mostly about “digital”, or “information technology”; ignore part of important total marketing strategies and think “digital marketing” is not their cup of tea.
Many marketers work with digital agencies; more often than not, communication and understanding each other are a problem. I saw marketers set up rules and formats of digital marketing campaigns who actually have little knowledge in digital marketing. A recommended way is to identify the right digital marketing company, set the KPI, and let them do the job without interfering too much.
Some companies (especially those to whom branding is critical) somehow realize the importance but find it hard to find the right person. They usually start to look for people with marketing background but few really have the capability for digital space. While, those with technical skills often have little understanding about marketing.
The right person. Who do you think is ideal for digital marketing role? I reckon, he or she should be a quick learner from marketing background (at least have a passion in marketing) who is willing to learn new things very quickly. Digital space is much more dynamic than traditional advertising and marketing, which requires constant learning from evolving channels.
Big advertising agencies. Big advertising agencies don’t want to ignore the increasing popularity of digital media, but are not dedicated to this emerging media. I came across several big players who set up digital department, put one guy in charge who’s from traditional media, and try to cash in whenever they can.
They do have a nice and charming “face” which can give their clients confidence that THEY are the one who can help them do better in digital media. Can they? Who cares about the fact?
Digital agencies. Many digital agencies have realized the fact that, Asia, a big emerging market, is the new big place where they can possibly share a bigger piece of cake. Many digital marketing agencies have been born with very different level of capabilities.
The problem is, one person can set up a company, which is particularly true in China. Many Chinese SEM companies would call whoever they can (even a hair salon) to promote the service and get as much money as possible out of their pocket without caring at all who they can bring to the clients.
“Better” SEM companies in Asia (especially those came from western markets) know what is important to the clients: ROI focused. But, once you sign up, what do you think they really care about?
There are only few companies who truly care about their clients’ benefit and strives toward win/win situation. But the bad news is, few have the ability to make the right judgment about who is the best for them.
Relationship with the clients is essential to a digital agency; but in the long term, how you can continuously strive to add value can ultimately help stand out and make a real difference.
Google. Google is really good. They never stop innovation or improving their existing products. It’s really easy to advertise on Google. The biggest challenge they really face is themselves, growing too big makes people fear and become joulous.
Yahoo. If you are behind your competitor and run at a slower pace, it is even not theoretically possible to catch up. Without a tool like Google AdWords Editor, different accounts for different markets, different currency invoicing, … There are so much Yahoo can do to make their services better; it seems the No. 1 real competitor Yahoo is facing is themselves.
Baidu. Baidu seems to see the difficulties it has brought to itself by too much concentrating on profit gaining. It’s still a market leader (about two thirds of SEM market) in China; but, its technology is behind Google. The good thing is, Baidu is making progress. According to a friend in Baidu, they would probably launch the updated bidding system (what they call “Phoenix Nest”) at the end of Oct.
The current situation is, the smartest digital companies get the most money, not the best. I see too many individuals and companies who start to laugh at others and blame their limited understanding about search or digital; as a matter of fact, neither do they. It really reminds me of the frog-in-a-well story when I was in primary school. A frog sits at the bottom of a well and think the sky is as big as what they see.
It’s an education process which would take some time before people have the ability to make the right judgement about what “good” truly means. What you truly believe, I’m afraid, is the only thing that help you succeed.