Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Best of Spikes Asia 2015

Andre Amaral, Regional Executive Creative Director at Vocanic was at the recently held Spikes Asia festival. He made some interesting observations that are worth taking note of.


Spikes Asia is a yearly, 3-day festival of creativity hosted at Suntec City in Singapore. It is by the same folks that run the Cannes Lions, Eurobest, and Dubai Lynx. This year I was able to attend the event in full, while representing Vocanic, the agency I work for.


Photo Credits : Spikes Asia Facebook

Photo Credits : Spikes Asia Facebook

And here’s what caught my attention among the various seminars, workshops, tech talks, competitions, video broadcasts, awards ceremonies and networking parties that happened this year:

#1 The Big Tech Three

Facebook, Twitter, and Google all had main stage keynotes this year. Our “frenemies”, as Martin Sorrell calls them, are ever more encroached and intertwined within the media and communication industry. Fergus O’Hare, the new Head of Creative Shop for APAC, presented for Facebook. A nice bloke from Ireland with a caustic sense of humor. He teased the audience with a few Facebook ad formats that are not yet available for sale. He also showed a handful of “creative data” campaigns, or pieces of communication that leveraged in full the targeting and format possibilities of the platform. Unfortunately, agencies are still struggling to make the most out of these. Facebook is aggressively pushing for Video Ads and Instagram Ads across the region, and that message was re-iterated by Fergus.

Google also showed off their creative capabilities, particularly highlighting a campaign they did for EA Sports’ Madden NFL, called #Giferator. Creative engines allowed users to generate an unlimited combination of animated GIFs with resources from the game, while at the same time, they leveraged precision targeting based on the game’s potential audience. Mobile, social, content, data, all boxes ticked!

Twitter’s Steven Kalifowitz (@skalifowitz) highlighted the #PowerOfNow. As the platform struggles with aggressive investors looking for a definition for the future, Twitter seems to be banking on the platform’s hold of the current moment and being the best companion for live experiences.I completely agree with this vision. Periscope is also a step in the same positioning (his team was broadcasting the presentation on it). Steven is a good presenter, and took questions from the audience using Twitter itself. Two nice little visions of what Twitter can offer for brands.

Key Take Away: Agencies, watch out!  All major tech players are continuing/growing their investments on internal creative resources (Creative Shop is hiring across the region) and on beefing up their direct relationships with bigger clients. Either agencies adapt and move up their offerings one notch higher, as cross-platform consultants perhaps, or be ready to perish.

#2 Good Work But Lots Of Lost Work Too

Spikes Asia is also a creative awards competition. lMHO, most projects didn’t scale in the proportion that they could have. Agencies still treat their projects as campaigns with a start and an end date. They should treat them like products that are nurtured and grow with time. The advertising industry still hasn’t figured out how to monetize their work to its full capacity.

Some interesting work done across the region :

Volkswagen’s “Reduce Speed Dial” (New Zealand)

Uni-Noodle’s “House of Little Moments” (Taiwan)

Pedigree’s “Found” (New Zealand)

Culture Convenience Club’s “Panicoupon” (Japan)

#3 Insightful TechTalks

I attended two of them; one by R/GA Singapore, and one by some colleagues from Maxus’ Metalworks.

R/GA ran a demo of a dynamic visual storytelling tool that combines keywords with databases of videos and sounds to put together videos on the fly. It’s the beginning of a very interesting platform, one that could help innovative marketers create more tailored messaging for their audiences.

Alex Jaspers from Metalworks talked about process and technology, while Mithru and Daylon sourced a few volunteers from the crowd to have their arms controlled by someone else using electrodes. How cool is that!

#4 Lovely Student Briefs

I heard a few student ideas at the conclusion of the Spikes Young Creative Academy. The energy in the room was palpable even with very tough behaviour change briefs (education in Pakistan, food wastage in Vietnam, over-sexualized media in South Korea, lack of friendliness in China). All insights were bang on, although some ideas lacked the creativity or viability needed, students were on the right path

#5 Shy Networking

Met some interesting creative people from a creative technologist shop in Jakarta, talked to a handful of the speakers, but in general the networking vibe is very shy compared to Cannes Lions or Dubai Lynx.

So this was my overall experience with Spikes Asia this year. If you want to know more about it, drop me a tweet at @andregoiano.

Make sure you explore the winning work here.

Paid Social is Still Permission Based

Ian Mckee is the CEO of Vocanic, Asia’s Largest Full Service Social Media Marketing Business. With over 17 yrs of experience, Ian is a pioneer in the field of word of mouth marketing and social media marketing. He often finds himself educating his clients on how to utilize the true value of social for their businesses. One such discussion prompted him to write this post. Read on to hear directly from Ian.


A few days ago, I was in a meeting with a large client who had an even larger digital team. We were showcasing our Mission Control dashboard to them. A topic that I find myself discussing very often these days came up; “How to build a measurement framework of metrics that are predictive and indicative of success for a brand”.

What happened next, left me shocked and inspired me to write this post.

“We use Facebook for frequency and reach.” the head of digital said. “We are not concerned about engagement on Facebook.” (REALLY?!!) I was speechless for a second or two, but then started to probe deeper.

The simple truth was that this client had understood that they cannot reach their audience effectively on TV and had moved significant budgets to digital. This was great! But sadly, they were bringing the mindset and metrics of interruption advertising to digital, and worse, to social.

When I gently pointed out that using the same approach and metrics for two very different media channels is likely to lead to the wrong actions, I was shut down with a phrase, “But this is paid social.”

What they had failed to understand was that Facebook puts the users experience first. And provides them with the ability to hide brand messages they don’t like. Users tell Facebook why they hid the message and permanently block an advertiser from being able to reach them again.

From the advertisers’ perspective, it gets even worse. Facebook reads these signals from users as evidence that the output of the brand is actively unwanted and increases the CPC/CPM costs to show the same content to other users, making it more expensive for them to advertise. This is a classic mistake made frequently by people who come from a traditional or biddable media background. Advertisers need to understand that social media is inherently permission based.

Here’s a step by step screenshot of how it’s done.



 So what should brands do?

Paid or Organic, it is a good idea to treat social media as entirely permission media. Putting old methods of interruption advertising into practice is a huge mistake. Performance of your content is more important than the reach. The content that works needs to be:

  • Remarkable
  • Personally relevant
  • Provide a value exchange for the audience by educating them, amusing them etc

Our decision making needs to be data driven as well. Data can show us which content works best, on which platform and with what audience. Data analytics reveal essential source of information to decide what to promote. Earlier, the creative used to generate the big idea, now it’s the data that drives the creative thought.

Because we at Vocanic understand social, we can work with the brand to stop thinking Inside Out and start the process of learning how to add value to their customers’ life and create positive experiences. (Hint: Most adverts are not a positive experience!). We have a planning methodology which is developed specifically for permission based media, where you want users to not just consume but even share with their friends, something you could never hope with your TV network.


A close encounter with Dominic Proctor, President of GroupM Global Operations

Kanika Agarwal is an Account Manager at Vocanic, Singapore and supports our StarHub relationship. She is an aspiring marketing technologist and a rising star at Vocanic. She was elated when she got a chance to meet Dominic Proctor, President of GroupM Global Operations who visited Singapore recently. Here is a first person account of her interaction with him.


Dom addressed the Singapore team during a company town hall. As expected, we had a full house! All agency folks were eager and excited to hear Dom take us through GroupM’s current strategy especially given the changing digital landscape.

Some lucky ones also got a chance to meet him over lunch and personally learn from his experiences. I was fortunate to be chosen as one of these young talents. I was thrilled at the opportunity to speak to him in person and understand more about Group M’s vision and where we were headed as a group. Without being too intrusive, I started shooting my questions.

When you meet Dom, you are first charmed by his personality. In spite of being extremely knowledgeable, he is also very humble.  Being a young employee, you tend to feel intimidated around the company of senior management. But Dom made sure he made me feel at ease.

GroupM’s aim is simple and unsurprisingly ambitious. It is working towards a universal goal or as Dom puts it, “for your advantage” and being  unrivaled in everything we do. The company has grown tremendously both in terms of absolute business and talent pool. The traditional media buying business has shifted from 90% to 65% and yet our overall business has grown. It has seen a growth in many areas and especially social, programmatic and research, which GroupM Singapore successfully delivers to its clients by employing from diversified talent pools and in building up & acquiring specialized thought-leader companies such as  Vocanic and Xaxis.

There is no dearth of reports and researches available online that confirm that Asia is now leading the growth in mobile penetration and internet consumption. I was curious to understand from Dom his personal views on how the region is adapting to these changes. From his global perspective, he agrees that Asian consumers are fast paced. However from a client perspective, there is still a lot that we need to do to support the traditional media buying game. We need to provide them with integrated solutions. Clients are looking for agencies that can provide complete solutions to their connected consumer. The era of approaching different marketing touch points in silos is now over.  The beauty of GroupM is that it owns all these agencies within its umbrella. Group M can help bring media experts from across its agencies to build and execute against best-in-class communication plans for our clients.

Another interesting thing he pointed out was that every conversation with our clients today needs to start with mobile, especially in Asia. The smaller the screen,the more difficult it is for brands to provide uninterrupted communication. In that sense, the billboard age was easier. I couldn’t agree more. Given that the new age consumer is always on his mobile, you have to think of innovate ways to make his experience positive.

I asked him to choose between data driven marketing and content driven marketing and he said that he was putting his bets on data driven marketing. He thinks this will be a game changer and a strong tool in the hands of a smart marketer. Data can help answer critical business queries such as ‘What product to design”, “What content to post” etc. One can truly unlock the power of data by analysing and interpreting the right insights from it. Technological tools alone cannot help you answer that. You need to strengthen your analytics and insight capabilities as well. The recent decision of the group to acquire Greenhouse Group shows GroupM’s focus in this area.

Kanika Agarwal with Dominic Proctor

Kanika Agarwal with Dominic Proctor

To summarize, meeting Dom was a huge learning experience for me. Not only did it help me get an overview on the group’s ideology and industry best practices, but it also provided me with areas to focus on from a personal development perspective.