What's on the minds of Asia's top content creators & digital agencies? If they met in one room, what would be their key topics of discussion? That was exactly what happened earlier this month in Bangkok, Thailand.

"There’s only one word to the future of digital revolution, and that word is Asia," shared Fred Chong, founder and Group CEO of WebTVAsia during his keynote in Bangkok on June 2, 2017. "There's a billion young millennials growing up; if we do it right, Asia as a market will become the world’s biggest digital economy." 

There’s only one word to the future of digital revolution, and that word is Asia.

Chong spoke with conviction, yet indicates there's also a catch. This continent as a whole may be called Asia, but according to Chong it's composed of multiple small markets that don't talk to each other enough. That's why WebTVAsia has started hosting an annual forum towards that end. Titled Rise of Asia: Bridging Content & Commerce in Asia, WebTVAsia's 2nd annual forum featured five different panels geared toward Asia's content creators & influencers.

The forum preceded Viral Fest Asia 2017, WebTVAsia's 2-day music festival which included Korean mega-pop star Rain in its lineup. This year's Viral Fest Asia was held at Show DC - Thailand's first (newly-opened) entertainment & retail mega-complex, which also became one of WebTVAsia's newest partners when it joined a strategic partnership along with two other new partners Alibaba and Duble Kick Entertainment at the close of the forum.

Fred Chong delivers his keynote at Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok 

What exactly is WebTVAsia trying to achieve? “You may see us hosting all these big events around Asia and wonder what they are all about. But there is a 'method to the madness.' WebTVAsia was started by me four years ago. We were the early adopters of digital entertainment. We have now hit 1.5 billion views a month [on WebTVAsia.com across all our channels]. That's 5 billion minutes of attention. But there’s a higher message, a higher objective of what WebTVAsia is trying to achieve. If you fill 5 billion minutes of attention with trash, trash comes out. But if you fill it with positivity, good messages & entertaining content, I think Asia will eventually become a much, much better place," Chong stated as he shared his vision.

He shared further: "How did we manage to get here today? We were lucky that we were able to see where [the market] was going & capitalize on that opportunity. The question is what is going to happen from now onwards. Online media entertainment has become such a magnate; some call this disruption. Today's forum is not just about media entertainment; it bridges content & commerce together, and also revolves around the Internet of Things."

If you fill 5 billion minutes of attention with trash, trash comes out. But if you fill it with positivity, good messages & entertaining content, I think Asia will eventually become a much, much better place.

Fred Chong, Founder and Group CEO of WebTVAsia

As Chong emphasizes, online content revolves around the Internet of Things and it is also an intersect where multiple key sub-sectors of the tech industry converge.

Today, no one can stay away from content if they want to move forward. Here's tips from the expert content creators & influencers who shared their minds during panels at the Rise of Asia forum, a collection of notable quotes & golden tidbits from each panel that comprise our 20 key takeaways.

PANEL #1: DISRUPTIVE MODELS OF THE APP ECONOMY

Media is undergoing disruption on an unprecedented scale, which is reshaping how content is being delivered and experienced throughout Asia. The rapid take-up in smart devices, increase in broadband penetration, and shift to the millennial demographic has led digital consumption to be at an all-time high with no signs of slowing down. Like both sides of a coin, with disruption has come huge opportunities which spurred innovation in monetization models to the global app economy, worth an estimated US$129 billion in 2016. [Credit: WebTVAsia "Rise of Asia" forum pamphlet]

I don’t think any one sector will corner VR, but rather whoever has the first killer social app.

Angus Chan - Director, 
Global Strategic Partnership & Creative Content, 
HTC, Taiwan

1. Whoever has the first killer social app may be the one to corner VR. “[There’s now a lot of social VR apps in development] for example, Facebook is working on Facebook Space. There's a very high population of Facebook users, so that might be one of the first markets for VR. But of course there are other companies & developers who are developing some really good social VR apps right now. We believe that whenever these apps are linked and connected to existing apps that we're using - for example YouTube or Google or any other stuff that we're already using - whenever there's a really strong connection to that app and ecosystem, VR will really grow.” - Angus Chan, HTC

2. VR is still waiting for the tipping point that will bring it to mass adoption. "For the VR market, first of all, we try to make things more accessible for users. Secondly, we try to expand on the product fully so we can be the most powerful segment in VR.

"Last month we just announced our collaboration with Google; its stand-alone VR means you don’t need a phone, or PC, no cords, no nothing. It's light, it's something that you can bring to work. That might become something people can adopt to.

"Looking down 5-10 years, in order to mass adopt this technology, it needs a tipping point. Maybe it needs to be part of our glasses, or wristbands. That’s coming. We believe this will be just like a smartphone base, which is just a foundation to what is to come. This is proven through the products made in IoTs. The IoTs are built based on the smartphone business. They're not meant to be disconnected and work on their own. VR will be exactly that way, it's got a very bright future & we're looking forward to what is to come.” - Angus Chan, HTC

On average, Chinese gamers spend 30% more than American gamers.

Grace Yun Xia, Senior Director, 
Corporate Strategy & Development, 
Tencent, China

3. Chinese gamers spend more than American gamers. “I recently saw a number indicating that over the past 3 years, Chinese spend online has increased tenfold. Also, average Chinese gamers spend 30% more than American gamers. That applies not just to gamers but to other media sectors. On top of that, I recently saw a report that online ad dollars will bypass TV ad dollars in just six months. Everything is becoming so favorable from [Tencent's] transition perspective. Not to mention that I've seen lots of new transition vehicles emerging in Asia. You know, things like virtual goods, the typical e-commerce on media platforms, or other ways. Overall [Southeast Asia] is a very interesting market that presents a lot of interesting options for Tencent." - Grace Yun Xia, Tencent

4. The market for graphics cards to continues to grow due to demand from the gaming market. “We still believe that graphics cards will continue to grow, because the demand from games will continue to grow. The cards we bought last year are already becoming obsolete. - Angus Chan, HTC

I like love, because we tend to forget it. Yet love will drive everything because it gives meaning.

Andreas Vogiatzakis 
CEO, Havas Media Group, Malaysia

5. If you want to create meaningful content, ask yourself - if your brand dropped dead tomorrow, would consumers know or even care about it?“If 74% of the brands would drop dead tomorrow, consumers wouldn’t care a bit - and that’s scary. Therefore, when developing an app, harnessing technology - what do we do as a brand & as a community to add value, to create meaning, to be relevant and to put love into the fold? I like love, because we tend to forget it. Yet love will drive everything because it gives meaning." - Andreas Vogiatzakis, Havas Media Group

For Asia we see a lot of centaurs (startups that are basically $100 million USD value & rising). Actually a lot of them are a combination of e-commerce & content; they are located here in Southeast Asia - and I think that’s what one of our next unicorns will be.

Krating Ponpool, 
Managing Partner, 
500 Startups, Thailand

6. Asia bodes well for the e-commerce + content formula.  “We have three unicorns in our portfolio and one of them has already made exit. One-third of our unicorns is in Asia, and that's Grab Taxi - it's in Southeast Asia, which says something. The basic plan for these unicorns is either to pre-sales, M&A or exit to the stock market. One company in our portfolio IPO'd last year at almost $3 million USD. But for Asia, I think the majority will be M&A. For Asia we see a lot of centaurs (startups that are basically $100 million USD value & rising). Actually a lot of them are a combination of e-commerce & content; they are located here in Southeast Asia - and I think that’s what one of our next unicorns will be.” - Krating Ponpool, 500 Startups Thailand

7. WeChat's secret to getting more brands on the platform is to provide more services so users will spend more time on the platform and brands will have to follow their users there. "WeChat has become a super app in China. The strategy for WeChat is to be an open platform. We plug in all the services that our users will need throughout the day. For brands, if your customers are on WeChat spending 10+ hours per day, then the brand needs to be there too. There's a lot of innovative [brands] that have been emerging on WeChat, especially in the commerce space - the social commerce (convergence of media content & commerce). A lot of brands started & built themselves on WeChat; that’s where they can acquire users, manage the user relationships, do transactions (i.e. with WePay) - all the status generated on the platform can be given to the brand eventually so they can better understand their user behaviors.” - Grace Yun Xia, Tencent

PANEL 2: STREAMING OTTs IN ASIA - CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES

Over-the-top content (OTT) is a term used in broadcasting and technology business reporting to refer to audio, video, and other media transmitted via the Internet as a standalone product, that is, without an operator of multiple cable or direct-broadcast satellite television systems (so-called multiple-system operators) controlling or distributing the content. [Credit: Wikipedia]

The reason we put [our videos] in short form is because of the way we distribute the content. 80% of it will be consumed on things like Facebook & YouTube. The short form is very suitable for this kind of social media distribution. ...Our videos are cut to no more than 60 seconds only. In this way, more than 70% of our videos will be viewed until the end.

Natavudh Moo Pungcharoenpong, 
President, C Channel, Thailand

8.  Short form videos are a great way to harness attention on social media and gain more views. C-Channel is one of the most popular platforms in terms of short-form video content. Why short form? "On C-Channel, we are a combination of user-generated content and studio-made content. We have a studio where we shoot up to 10 videos per day. Each of them will be just one minute long. Most of them are targeted to young female users in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

"The reason we put it in short form is because of the way we distribute the content. 80% of it will be consumed on things like Facebook & YouTube. The short form is very suitable for this kind of social media distribution. Though we are doing a lot of videos, our videos are cut to no more than 60 seconds only. In this way, more than 70% of our videos will be viewed until the end. This is our way to guarantee more people watching the video till the end. Most videos have to be really short, direct and to the point.

"Most of them are simple, like How to Cook or How to Do Your Makeup - this kind of stuff that people are willing to share. Just by doing this we are achieving close to 500 million views a month on our platform, based on this strategy.” - Natavudh Moo Pungcharoenpong, C Channel Thailand

9. Video-on-demand, short-form content & live TV over data networks are where the OTT market is headed over the next 12 months. "I think we will see more of a trend of people under 35 moving away from TV to video-on-demand, and there's going to be a positioning of more video-on-demand channels as a conventional go-to service. We'll also see more of a positioning especially with mobile applications that there will be stronger relationships with the app on the big-screen TV in order to consume short-form content over a data networks vs. long-form content over a wi-fi network. And all of that could be potentially end up on a layout that involves live TV."- Andy Paterson, Iflix

Andy Paterson, 
Global Director of Product, 
Iflix, Malaysia

10. Live streaming can also be used to creatively generate more revenue through methods such as linking to other e-commerce websites or incentivizing virtual goods. "Let’s talk about the revenue model - when you talk about SEA, and media, most individuals think that we won't have enough people to involve for this service. In our case, like at C-Channel, we do short-form videos, so most of the revenue is actually coming from native ads, where most of the time we tie in some products into these videos. Hopefully it garners millions of views from the users and we get paid for putting the product in the video.

"We recently found there’s many other ways to make more revenue [from content]. An upcoming one is live video. Now people do a lot of live streaming. Sometimes we do live streaming, and instead of making a short-form video, we do longer live-stream videos that are 10-15 minutes long. At the end of the show, we put the link for other e-commerce websites. Then the customers who are actually watching the video can go in and purchase the actual product right away. We actually make a lot of money these days doing that.

"Also, there's incentivizing virtual goods where people do live streaming & people who love it will just buy stuff and give it to you. That kind of thing is really big in China, and it’s getting really big here." - Natavudh Moo Pungcharoenpong, C Channel Thailand

PANEL 3: Decoding Data to Turbocharge Marketing ROI

Digital content companies and advertisers rely on intelligence to make informed decisions on their business. In this fast-evolving ecosystem, smart analytics allows content companies to develop comprehensive strategies for seamless digital interaction with their audiences. simultaneously, advertisers will use the data to manage their experience with their target groups to effectively monetize their offering with the appropriate content. [Credit: WebTVAsia "Rise of Asia" forum pamphlet]

We've seen there’s a lot of buzz around big data, but I still think there’s a lot of skepticism when it comes to using data to drive key content decisions. We're trying to change that.

Nishant Radia, CEO of Vidooly (India)

11. Understanding the cycle of platforms such as YouTube & Facebook can help your content to achieve new heights. Try harnessing big data to examine data points around questions such as, "What is my audience looking for?" & "Where is my audience?" "We're fairly new in this business, of data and of business as well, so we're still learning as we go. It's been about 2 years that we started Vidooly. We've seen there’s a lot of buzz around big data, but I still think there’s a lot of skepticism when it comes to using data to drive key content decisions. That is what we're trying to change.

"So far, among the creative fraternity, people who are creating content, we've seen big adoption. They've started making decisions based on data. It's not something new. A movie like The Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption wasn't built just in one day. There's a lot of data that goes into shooting those scenes and writing the scripts.

"But with new platforms emerging, such as YouTube & Facebook, you need to start understanding the cycle of those platforms as well. That is where your content can actually start achieving new heights. If you create content, you need to make sure it reaches the right audience. For that, you need to understand who your right audience is. Not just the audience you have in your mind [when you create the content], but the people who are actually looking out for that content.

"Once you start understanding this piece of the puzzle, you start looking at multiple data points around questions such as, "What is my audience looking for?" & "Where is my audience?" When you start feeling those out, you can start reaching out to the right audience." - Nishant Radia,  Vidooly

It's essential that we understand data so that we can create the right products for consumers, especially in the music industry that is so fast-paced. Music analysis is actually a role that most music companies have created because we need to understand those data.


Darren Choy, MD, 
Warner Music Group, Malaysia

12. Data and analytics is also impacting the music industry big time. Music analysis is a new role that most music companies now have. The music industry has never really been very scientific. A lot of decisions that we make are based on what we think it is that the consumers want. Making music in the past has always been about, "I think this is the genre that consumers want." There was very much a 'push' strategy that we had in the music industry in the past. But I think with the emergence of all these social media platforms, what we realized is that the consumers - and also the music companies & music industry - have to react very differently.

"The great thing about having data is that for the last few years, the amount of data that has been coming through is just amazing. For a lot of guys in the music industry, we are not even ready for it, simply because we don't understand it. There's of course this huge gap of skill sets whereby [we don't consider ourselves scientific or analytical]; we're not into research... but the great thing is that we're starting to pull a lot of people from different industries to help us understand data mining, insights & everything there is about numbers.

"I think music analysis is actually a role that most music companies have created because we need to understand those data. It's essential that we understand data & big data so that we can create the right products for consumers, especially in the music industry that is so fast-paced." - Darren Choy, Warner Music Group Malaysia

Let's talk about data. For a data-practitioner like me, it's music to my ears. There is a very famous English poem that talks about 'Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink' ... The same problem we have is data, data everywhere but nobody here to think.

Ranga Somanathan 
CEO, Omnicorn Media Group, 
Malaysia & Singapore

13. Being able to design & deliver content to the individual condenses the quality of the attention that you get from them. “If we think about how content has been created over time, it has always been designed & delivered to a collective. You have to design something that is valued, high production, reaching many people at one shot. What platforms like YouTube or power-glide organizations like WebTVAsia do is design & deliver content to the individual.

"When you’re able to design & deliver content to the individual, the amount of attention, the 5 billion minutes of attention that you're getting, is a very precious attention. It is not random attention. You have to respect that attention. If you want to respect somebody's attention, then you need to be able to understand them. So what data allows us to do is to understand those behaviors." - Ranga Somanathan, Omnicorn Media Group

The sector that's using programmatics the most heavily in Indonesia is e-commerce, because it's a sector that's very clear about the measurements it wants and needs.

Martinus Faisal, 
Chief Operating Officer,
Adskorn, Indonesia

14. Programmatic media buying, marketing and advertising - defined as "the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time" - is growing in sectors that have information. “Programmatic advertising is a dynamic method to give your content to the right audience. This field is growing in the sectors that have information, because when people use programmatics the basic idea is to get efficiency. If math can measure anything, it's the efficiency that you're getting. In my experience, the sector that's using programmatics the most heavily in Indonesia is e-commerce, because it's a sector that's very clear about the measurements it wants and needs, e.g. the lowest cost of sales that you can gather on the market. Say an e-commerce business approaches an agency and says, "Who can give me the lowest cost of sales for me?"

"That’s one thing about programmatics; it’s an the authorization process, and it needs a measurement, because without measurements, you cannot measure what's the best thing for your product." - Martinus Faisal, Adskorn Indonesia

15. Content lifespan is much shorter now, but at the same time the increased number of platforms available to content creators empowers them to choose their vehicle to success. “We are in the industry of creation, really. Right now what we have is multiple platforms where content can be featured. Traditionally, in the music industry, if you were to make 10 albums, 9 of them will fail; only one will make it big. Now, we have the same situation, only it's 1000 creators, 900 of which will fail.

"But because now we have multiple platforms - you have Instagrammers, Youtubers - it all depends on which platforms you're in. You can still be able to survive and create content freely. There's situations where certain creators will not last; unfortunately that's how brutal the industry is - but on the other hand, some will actually be very successful. It all depends on what they do to bring themselves to another level - do they work with a music label, or on their own? Or do they work with agencies like those here today that can actually bring them to a different level & give them quality data to look at?" - Darren Choy, MD, Warner Music Group, Malaysia

Bie the Ska, 
Thailand's top YouTuber 
with over 4.8 million subscribers

16. The top entertainers want more data. “If we have more data, it will help to create the content. You know, I actually use Weebly to find more data and find more audience, to find where’s the audience and what they like." - Bie the Ska, Thailand's top YouTuber

17. Instead of waiting for more data to come before making decisions, take action and experiment. "The challenge that the industry is facing is that with a lot of the micro-data that is available, we are getting paralyzed waiting for more data to come before making decisions. There is a very famous English poem that talks about 'Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink' - it's a sailor's poem on the high seas when there's no water in the shed. You see so much water around the ship but you can't drink it because it's full of salt.

"The same problem we have is there is data, data everywhere but there is nobody here to think. The challenge for us is to create our own experiments, rather than wait for the data to come to us, we need multiple content platforms, get to exposure, pay attention to the audience, have the right kinds of technology & add ons and things, capture the feedback and give them back what they want and take away what they don't want. Creating that kind of iterated mindset. Put a lot of things in front of the consumers, take it through the response loop and put it back again." - Ranga Somanathan, Omnicorn Media Group

PANEL 4: SELLING TO MILLENNIALS: INFLUENCER MARKETING & COMMERCE

The battle for the next 1 billion high-spending consumers in Asia has begin with ecommerce companies leading the way to capture the minds and hearts of the millennial generation. Global & local consumer brands are constantly on the search for the next killer marketing idea that can translate into sales. Media entertainment companies with a digital focus are also getting highly influential. The question is: What will make a millennial care? [Credit: WebTVAsia "Rise of Asia" forum pamphlet]
Baptiste Le Gal, 
Chief Marketing Officer, 
Lazada Thailand

18. E-commerce platforms are working with influencers to create content through new channels. “We recently worked with L’Oreal to develop a lot of rich content with them with our content producer and The Face Thailand. We invited them to come to our office where we've basically developed a small studio, and engaged them on live stream to make some rich content, do some sales, trigger some engagement. The models enjoy playing & connecting with their fans, and the brands enjoy exposure as well. Now we are starting to build Lazada TV; as part of this we are creating a studio in our office. We are spending a lot on creation as well; we just can’t keep up with the demand, we need more content creators.” - Baptiste Le Gal, Lazada Thailand

What I learned about selling to millennials is that first and foremost they are very very self centered and egotistical. They don't buy a movie because it's giving a good message or a moral story. They buy it because the story reflects their own anxieties; they feel the product or movie is a part of them.

Raditya Dika, 
Indonesian actor, writer, producer, 
director & stand-up comedian.

19. There is a formula to tap into a millennial's heart: honesty. “The thing I learned about selling to millennials is that first and foremost they are very very self centered and egotistical. So, if you want to sell a movie, or a product - they don't buy a movie because it's giving a good message or a moral story. They buy it because the story reflects their own anxieties; they feel the product or movie is a part of them. They're thinking their own anxiety is being discussed in the movie. So that’s the first thing I usually tell a brand. Ok, you want to sell product. You have your own key message (i.e. whether the brand is the best, etc). I try to get a millennial’s anxiety out of their key message and put it into a storyline, then present it in video or movie form.

"I have one tropical water brand from Japan; they came to me and told me, 'Raditya, you have to put our brand all over your video.' They didn’t want me to put it subtly or just soft-selling their product - they wanted me to put it in your face. So I told them, 'Ok, let's make one!' I made a video called “How to Promote Your Brand on YouTube.” I mentioned within the first five seconds of the video the name of the brand I was working with, what they'd asked me to do, and stated that I was going to give tips on how to put brands all over your video.

"That's exactly what I did. I walked with this drink in my hand, used the drink as a 'pen' while I worked on my notebook, I just put it everywhere on my video. I actually got the most views - about 700,000 in one month. I was surprised - they were very happy, and my viewers were happy as well. Millennials don’t want to be deceived. They don’t want to feel, 'This influencer/YouTuber is lying to me, he's getting all the money from the brand & pushing the brand values to me.' In order to avoid that, I tell my viewers within the first 5 minutes, 'I’m getting paid, this is what I’m gonna do… and I’m gonna make a video & put tips on how to put brands all over your video very blatantly.' That's the point - they don't like to be lied to.” - Raditya Dika, Indonesian actor, writer, producer, director and stand-up comedian

Kimberly "Kim" Domingo, 
Filipino actress, model and TV host

20. Today's top influencers never forget that user engagement is key.  “I’m very active in social media; I personally engage my followers; I make sure I talk to them, I read their comments, read their messages, and I post a photo of the brand that I’m endorsing on my social media account. What kinds of reactions do I get from fans? They're ok with it." - Kimberly "Kim" Domingo, Filipino actress, model and TV host

___________________

WebTVAsia is a YouTube certified Multi-Channel Network to produce, manage, market and monetize the most-wanted Asian video content. WebTVAsia’s over 600 channels are serving loyal audiences in key territories in China, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Since 2014, WebTVAsia has chalked up impressive track records: over 600 million monthly views and 10 million subscribers and now, as of June 2017, over 5 billion minutes of viewing time each month.

Fred Chong, a Malaysian, is the founder and Group CEO of Prodigee Media and WebTVAsia. He is also an established songwriter, music producer and multi-genre creator. Armed with vast experience in digital marketing, he ventured into the Multi-Channel Network business by forming WebTVAsia in 2013. Fred has earned many personal accolades for his contribution to the entertainment industry and is also active in charitable causes such as volunteering as music director and producer for the Singapore Cancer Society and UNICEF. He loves writing songs, producing and traveling. Fred’s personal motto is: “Be Prepared at All Times, Because You Don’t Know When the Next Great Opportunity May Turn Up”.

Meet Fred Chong, Group CEO of WebTVAsia & other speakers at Techsauce Global Summit 2017, the melting pot for global and regional leaders in technology, venture capital, corporations and startups. Heralded by many as the “freshest and edgiest” tech conference in Southeast Asia, this is Southeast Asia’s must-attend conference for technology entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia who wish to propel themselves onto the global stage and global investors who wish to identify the region’s leading startups.

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