Things haven't been easy but - touch wood - 2004 should be a good year. Last year, the first six months were pretty harsh because of Sars, the threat of terror and the depreciation of the Indian rupee. It wasn't that advertising stopped, but nobody wanted to meet with anyone so business slumped. It was more about retaining the business we had than moving forward.
But from July onwards, things started to pick up again, and things are looking a lot better. Why? Because cable penetration in South-East Asia, now at between 15 and 20 per cent, is set to grow in a big way. And only 17.5 per cent of the $14.8 billion TV advertising market in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) goes on cable, so there's a lot of scope for growth.
As for the children's entertainment segment, until a few years ago it was a very slow-moving business. Most communication was done below the line. But now the research used by media owners is so much better and advertisers are buying into what we offer. Children make up a third of the population in the region so there's huge potential. Cartoon Network is attracting everyone from toys to petroleum - the only category we haven't cracked yet is fertiliser.
Advertisers are listening to our sell and doing lots of new things spurred by better research, higher cable penetration and better media buying tools. We are experiencing 9-10 per cent growth every year, so there's no cause to doubt a bright future ahead. Exciting times.
- Soumitra Saha is the vice-president of regional advertising and licensing sales for Turner Entertainment Network, Asia-Pacific.
Advertisers are diverting more of their budgets away from print and TV, and outdoor's one of those to benefit.
According to JP Morgan, outdoor is expected to see the highest rate of share growth across Asia, from 6 per cent to 9 per cent year on year.
There are two reasons why this will happen. First, TV inflation has hit advertisers hard. In Hong Kong, it's up 8 per cent, in Thailand 20 per cent and in some Chinese regional stations it is as high as 30 per cent.
Second, because outdoor companies are improving product quality and media accountability to attract new clients.
This is particularly evident in China. Outdoor has worked well in building awareness and purchase intent in the country's big conurbations, the fastest growing sectors in 2003 being telecoms, beverages and cosmetics.
The Hong Kong Advertisers Association forecasts outdoor share to grow by 7 per cent this year. In the first quarter, campaigns focused on product and price promotion. But this summer, with the Olympics and Euro 2004, we expect more brand-building initiatives, which should boost outdoor.
In Singapore, the number of street furniture panels has grown five-fold, research is much improved and the government's relaxation on poster creativity should entice advertisers to use innovations such as sonic posters and special builds.
- Robert Thurner is the group marketing director of Clear Channel International.
With the global economy showing improvement, we are beginning to see some optimism and confidence returning to Asia. In the first quarter this year, sales were up 7.7 per cent at The Asian Wall Street Journal, with a particularly strong March, where we grew by 32.4 per cent.
We're also seeing an increase in classified job ads, evidence companies are beginning to invest in their people again. Travel is also picking up, with planes regularly filled to capacity, often jam-packed in China.
Recovery in the US and Japan also makes the rest of Asia's growth prospects promising. And, of course, we can't forget China's rapid progress.
As for our business, we're generally pleased with how things are going.
We reach 16 per cent of the Asian Business Readership Survey's big-earning audience and are the survey's most widely read daily newspaper across the region. But advertising levels, and therefore revenue and profit, remain well below normal. On the circulation side, many print publications suffered a fall partly because of Sars. But we've been able to take our total circulation back to more than 80,000.
The Asian Wall Street Journal's editor, Reginald Chua, says: "What's probably more important for Asia is what doesn't happen: a banking crisis in China, a re-emergence of Sars regionally or globally, or a major terrorist attack."
- Winnie Wong is the managing director of The Asian Wall Street Journal.
Bullish forecasts on economic growth, a surging property market and an increase in consumer spending have encouraged marketers to loosen their purse strings again in Hong Kong. According to an Asia-wide survey of marketers conducted by Synovate, marketing budgets will increase by 20 per cent or more in some cases this year. And, like so many markets, we are seeing a greater proportion of this adspend coming our way from traditional media.
Studies have shown that brands can increase effectiveness by allocating more to online while keeping the same overall budget, and more advertisers seem to be buying into this idea. They are finally recognising the benefits: its huge audience reach, effective targeting and segmentation, interactivity, flexibility to fine-tune creative and measurability.
Hong Kong is one of the most internet-savvy cities in the world, with broadband penetration of more than 53 per cent (in the UK, it is expected to reach 13 per cent ... by 2008), so it's a great market for the world to see the shape of things to come. We are spending more time online searching for information, playing networked games, reading news and using the web as an everyday communication tool.
China remains the major force behind the strong economic growth that Hong Kong and much of the Asia-Pacific region is experiencing. Together with more allocation to online media as part of the marketing mix, 2004 should be an encouraging year for the digital space.
- Arthur Chow is the manager of business development and marketing at Yahoo! Hong Kong.