Special Report: Pan-Asian Media - Size and sophistication

By Pippa Considine, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 19 November 2004 12:00AM

Growth of pan-Asian channels offers fresh opportunities to media agencies.

In the past ten years, the face of pan-regional media agencies in Asia has changed beyond recognition. The same can be said for the pan-regional media channels, which are now seen by huge numbers of people across the continent.

Discovery Asia has 277 million subscribers, while CNBC is available in more than 38 million homes across the Asia-Pacific region, CNN in 27 million and Star reaches more than 300 million viewers in 53 Asian countries.

All the successful pan-regional channels and print media have been increasing their audiences in a continent which contains the world's most exciting economies. But what have advertisers and media agencies in the region been doing to make the most of what's on offer?

"There's a far more significant opportunity in terms of channels and what you can do with those channels," Mark Patterson, the chief executive of MindShare North Asia, says. "Historically, Europe led the way in development of pan-regional media, but Asia has caught up and it's as widespread and flexible as pan-Europe, with opportunities ranging from standard spots and space to integrated programming ideas."

It's also true that there's a healthy competition between the pan-regional channels, which keeps them on their toes. "There's an excellent push from regional media owners to develop ideas and gain additional revenue," Chris Wright, the international strategic director at Initiative, says.

"Pan-Asian channels look for content ideas and 'beyond' sponsorship properties and the print media develop innovative sitings and content."

At Discovery Networks Asia, Mark Whitehead, the senior vice-president of revenue and sales, talks about the integrated packages that the channel has worked on. One campaign for Malaysia Airlines, called "100 years of flight", featured specially created vignettes, which have won awards.

"We work very closely with the media and creative agencies and '100 years of flight' is a really good example of a package that we've developed for an advertiser together with its media agency, Starcom," Whitehead says .

One of the strongest areas of pan-regional in Asia is business media.

"Asia has a highly mobile and relatively young business-travelling audience," Patterson says. Channels such as CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg and magazines such as The Economist and Fortune mean there's a good coverage of this highly sought-after audience.

The TV channels have had help in building their reputation and continuing to establish themselves in the region from the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia. This body has helped to raise the profile of the broadcasters and lobby for its members across the region. It also acts as an information resource.

When agencies are researching for pan-regional campaigns, there are some key pieces of research which aim to show significant findings across the whole region. The Asian Target Markets Survey, Synovate's PAX - the pan-Asia Cross-Media survey - and the Asian Business Readership Survey are the three that are most frequently mentioned. Nielsen and Radar also provide various research across the region.

But agencies have their concerns over much of this regional research, and many also use bespoke research tools. ZenithOptimedia uses Zenith-Optimedia Optimisation of Media, also known as Zoom.

At Initiative, to work out the weight of expenditure across the region, the agency uses an econometric tool called SAM. And MindShare has a planning tool called 3D it uses to segment consumers into ever-more elaborate target groups based on lifestyle rather than straight demographics.

But agencies also need to get their creative thinking caps on. Especially when TV channels such as Discovery, Star or CNBC are now offering more varied ways of executing a campaign.

At CNBC Asia-Pacific, Adrian New, the senior vice-president for advertising sales and marketing, says that "fewer and fewer brands want just spot buys. The trend is towards sponsored segments or programmes with brands seeming to take 'ownership' of issues or areas of interest". One example is HSBC's sponsorship, through MindShare, of Live Long and Prosper, a series of programmes about the realities of an ageing population.

MindShare is the biggest agency in Asia. It sits at the top of the Recma table and leads in the latest Media Asia league table. With 1,400 employees across the region and making waves in China, it has every reason to be one of the more confident agencies.

Number two is ZenithOptimedia, which has had a less easy time of it in the past couple of years as the two agencies (Zenith and Optimedia) bedded down their merger. But it is still a force to be reckoned with, with a headcount of around 1,200.

Other key players in the region include MindShare's younger sibling Mediaedge:cia, no minnow with billings of £1.2 billion and more than 8 per cent of the market.

Others that have been making themselves felt in the region include Starcom and Universal McCann, which has the biggest western media buying operation in Japan.

All the biggest players work with the pan-regional networks. But all of them emphasise that such a culturally diverse region can't be covered simply by a one-hit media plan. Many major pan-Asian advertisers, such as HSBC, will dovetail local media planning and buying with pan-regional campaigns. Indeed, its "the world's local bank" campaign is a self-conscious nod to the difficulties of talking to everyone at the same time.

The pan-regional media, do, however, go to some lengths to offer language versioning and separate channels in different countries. As time goes on, they are more able to offer bigger chunks of the Asian audience. Growth rates continue to be impressive, keeping pace with the growth of media agencies in the region.

THE BIG MEDIA NETWORK AGENCIES IN ASIA-PACIFIC

Australia/New Zealand

2002 + Q1 2003 + Q1 Growth

2003 (dollars m) 2004 (dollars m) (%)

MindShare 412 445 8.0

ZenithOptimedia 974 940 -3.5

Universal McCann 316 325 2.8

Starcom Mediavest Group 546 500 -8.4

Carat 203 290 42.9

OMD 287 250 -16.9

Mediaedge:cia 207 220 6.3

Initiative 298 315 5.7

MediaCom 126 150 19.0

Media Planning Group - - -

South-East Asia/India

2002 + Q1 2003 + Q1 Growth

2003 (dollars m) 2004 (dollars m) (%)

MindShare 1,015 1,220 20.2

ZenithOptimedia 526 460 -12.5

Universal McCann 396 445 12.4

Starcom Mediavest Group 365 395 8.2

Carat 260 410 57.7

OMD 355 505 42.3

Mediaedge:cia 436 645 47.9

Initiative 435 485 11.5

MediaCom 217 225 3.7

Media Planning Group 50 30 66.7

China/Taiwan/Hong Kong

2002 + Q1 2003 + Q1 Growth

2003 (dollars m) 2004 (dollars m) (%)

MindShare 825 1,140 38.2

ZenithOptimedia 826 880 6.5

Universal McCann 424 350 -17.5

Starcom Mediavest Group 357 545 52.7

Carat 207 455 119.8

OMD 453 530 17.0

Mediaedge:cia 233 250 7.3

Initiative 120 195 62.5

MediaCom 144 125 -13.2

Media Planning Group 60 60 0.0

Japan*

2002 + Q1 2003 + Q1 Growth

2003 (dollars m) 2004 (dollars m) (%)

MindShare 100 100 0.0

ZenithOptimedia 100 100 0.0

Universal McCann 912 950 4.2

Starcom Mediavest Group 100 100 0.0

Carat 240 230 -4.2

OMD 100 100 0.0

Mediaedge:cia 100 100 0.0

Initiative 100 150 50.0

MediaCom 100 100 0.0

Media Planning Group - - -

Regional billings Market share

2002 + Q1 2003 + Q1 Growth in the region

(dollars m) (dollars m) (%) (%)

2003 2004

MindShare 2,352 2,905 23.5 19.7

ZenithOptimedia 2,426 2,380 -1.9 16.1

Universal McCann 2,048 2,070 1.1 14.0

Starcom Mediavest Group 1,368 1,540 12.6 10.5

Carat 910 1,385 52.2 9.4

OMD 1,195 1,385 15.9 9.4

Mediaedge:cia 976 1,215 24.5 8.2

Initiative 953 1,145 20.1 7.8

MediaCom 587 600 2.2 4.1

Media Planning Group 90 110 22.2 0.7

Source: Recma.

* In Japan, with the exception of Universal McCann, media agencies

handle planning only and so, other than Universal McCann and Carat,

estimates are based on the market average. Japan's market leader is the

local agency Dentsu, with billings of $7.9 billion.

CROSSING BORDERS ... broadcasters such as the Discovery Channel (top), Star (centre) and CNBC(bottom) are coming up with new ways for advertisers to get their message to audiences across Asia through integrated packages.

These can range from specially created vignettes for Malaysia Airlines to HSBC's programme sponsorship of Live Long and Prosper. These TV channels are reaching 300 million viewers in 53 Asian countries in Star's case.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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