Is social media advertising really worth it for small businesses in Asia? Talk to any number of small business owners who are advertising on social and you will undoubtedly hear them talk about changes to algorithms and limited organic reach, some very real problems if you have a limited marketing budget.
I recently sat down with the CEO of KL based AdEasy, Melissa Sim on the Southeast Asia Business Podcast on the eFM network and we got into just this topic. It’s a fantastic episode and I strongly suggest you listen to it if you are interested in advertising for your business in any way. This interview was powerful for me because I left it with a new appreciation of the market and an aspect of advertising I didn’t really understand before.
I wanted to find out more so I started to dive into the nuts and bolts of advertising in the Malaysian market. According to a report by Statista market had just shy of 7.8 billion ringgit ad spend in 2017 and the vast majority of that was from traditional sources like TV and newspaper. Something else that was interesting to me is that even traditional media sources like the newspaper have increased year over year. While the report shows that Internet advertising growth is still growing faster than the other areas it’s still not the largest area overall, that distinction belongs to newspapers.
This data really spiked my interest so I reached back out to Melissa to follow up on a few things, the first being was to take a deeper dive as to how she sees the split in the ad market between traditional and digital.
“Both are equally important. However, most people fail to understand the functions and difference of offline vs online marketing.” Melissa said, she then pointed out an important distinction. “Online marketing is great for short term marketing (ie lead generation and engagement) and offline marketing is great for brand building and top of mind recall.” and concluded with “That is why big brands are still investing in both offline and online for their campaigns. The idea is to have both to ensure a more cohesive campaign.”
While that breakdown is good and hearing Melissa describe it in detail shines a lot of light on the value-add from both side, it’s easy to understand how someone new to business, especially someone who grew up in the information age or was born post-internet might not see value in traditional advertising, especially when compared to their native tongue… Digital.
I asked Melissa about the fear that business owners have when taking the dive into traditional, or offline media are “The lack of knowledge and understanding on how to use these media.” she said “Transparency of rates and of course, the accountability of running offline advertising campaigns. “
Then makes a lot of sense when you think of the power that big data has given use when it comes to advertising. Though Melissa says AdEasy has a plan to combat these fears “We are working with big data companies to provide post-campaign reports for offline advertising.” she said “For now, we are able to tell you how many people saw your billboard ads and went to your shop along with demographics segmentations. Soon we will be able to apply this to other media types such as radio, cinema, and tv.”
At the end of the day no matter how you advertise your business you need to make sure you are getting the most out of your advertising budget. Having clear goals in mind along with knowing who you want to reach is going to play a big role in that regard. I like how Melissa broke it down online marketing like Facebook ads and email campaigns are the great short-term and used for generating leads while offline ads make the most sense for brand building and keeping your brand in the customers’ mind (and hopefully on the tip of their tongue). With CEOs like Melissa and companies like AdEasy working to make easier to decipher the results and providing data to help business owners understand the actual ROI making such decisions should become less daunting.