Adrian Lee, Head of Digital, MediaCom Hong Kong

Welcome to the first in Inskin Media Asia’s 180 seconds with… series.

What can we learn about some of the industry’s leading thinkers, in 180 seconds, the average dwell time on an Inskin Video?

Name

Adrian Lee

Company

MediaCom

Title
Head of Digital

What do you do, tell us about yourself?
I help brands connect with the right people using a combination of the best technology available, a healthy reliance on audience insight work to deliver big ideas and all underpinned with a strong focus on measurement. I joined MediaCom London as a university graduate having studied a languages degree and had little in terms of a media background other than the fact I’d always been interested in the persuasive power (both good and bad) of the internet. After 5 years where I’d reached a digital and mobile manager position in the flagship MBA team, a move to Asia presented itself and I headed out to lead digital in the Jakarta office. The 18 months I spent in Indonesia taught me a lot about working in Asia and prepared me well for my eventual move to MediaCom Hong Kong where I am now based. Even though I’d say I’m a much more developed marketer now, that same interest in digital as a persuasive power that I had when I first started is still something that leads my approach to day-to-day projects.

Why is digital marketing important?
It comes down to wanting to fish where the fishes are. As a brand you want to be active and have a voice in an environment where your audience is already regularly engaging and for the most part that is within the digital space. Digital also has a number of key attributes that few other touchpoints can offer such as its accountability potential and the fact you can use it as the glue to integrate all your offline initiatives too. For a market like Hong Kong which has such high digital adoption that’s especially important. I often read opinions about how “traditional” media will go the way of the dinosaurs but I disagree. It will just adapt in the same way print properties here in HK are investing heavily in their digital content delivered through mobile devices or TV channels are looking at iVideo. MediaCom sees iVideo as a huge opportunity for Hong Kong advertisers to start making better use of. Sure, we might lose some “traditional” publishers along the way who don’t adapt quickly enough but you’d have to have a very blinkered view to think that digital is going to be the only medium to have a dialogue with consumers in the future. The best digital campaigns that I’ve seen are the ones that embrace all the media touchpoints with digital at the heart, not necessarily the campaigns that only include a really strong digital mechanic.

How well do you think HK clients embrace digital?
HK should definitely have a much bigger digital footprint on the global stage considering how big a part online plays in the everyday life of consumers. That being said, my experience is that although not all brands are pushing the boundaries with what’s possible in digital yet they are still incredibly open to exploring the full range of options that digital presents. I find that MediaCom is fielding less questions about why digital needs to be on media schedules and more questions along the lines of “from all the data available, what is the right data we should focus on that will help improve our digital campaigns?” That’s a very encouraging sign for digital here in HK. It shows we’ve skipped past the step of having to convince brands that digital is an important part of the marketing mix. If we compare it to the earlier days of digital in more developed markets, it was much harder at the beginning to convince some brands that digital warranted more than just some test budget. That means the rate of digital advancement here in HK is likely to be rapid which will benefit both brand and consumer.

What about our industry keeps you up at night?
The convergence of media, technology and big thinking ideation is definitely something that has been at the front of my mind recently. With so much emphasis now on real-time responses to audience behaviour, it’s only natural that programmatic technology is going to form an increasingly important part of the equation. That being said though, just because a campaign includes groundbreaking technology doesn’t mean it’s going to deliver intended brand objectives and an award-winning campaign. My view is that technology only really comes to the fore when added to genuine audience insights. I’m also keeping a close eye on how technology vendors in particular are also now challenging traditional agency models which is further blurring the line between media and creative agency responsibilities.

What does branding mean to you?
Good branding is a subtle art which requires a depth of thought behind it. Shout too loud at your audience and they’ll accuse you of being too cavalier in your approach and they’ll almost certainly let you know about it online and in real-time across their social networks. Whisper too quietly though and no one will know you have anything worth talking about. Ideally you’re looking for a balance of brand bravery (i.e. a brand that is proud enough of their offering to open themselves up in the public space) while still giving the benefit of choice to consumers. In this respect Inskin Media have helped a number of MediaCom clients by ensuring brand messaging appears in relevant, high-interest environments but also offering audiences a choice in whether they want to engage with branded content or not. By offering choice we can deliver more qualified brand engagement for our client business partners.

Tell us something about you that no one knows…
For over 3 years in London I juggled my career in media along with captaining the Great Britain elite wallball team. It’s a sport much like squash but you use your hands to hit a rubber ball instead of a racquet. There are thousands of players across the world in over 40 countries and there are aims to raise the game profile up to Olympic Games inclusion by 2022. As well as winning a World Championship in Portland, Oregon and a European Championship in Valencia, I also helped integrate the sport in inner city schools in London with the aim of getting more kids to be active and stay out of trouble. To date we’ve trained about 5,000 schoolkids so it’s a great initiative to be a part of considering the sport had no prior basis or framework in the UK. Since moving to Hong Kong I’ve been looking for opportunities to coach or play wallball again so if anyone is interested please do get in touch!