Brands—big and small—recognize the potential that digital marketing has on young, social media-savvy Filipinos. And while marketers want to capitalize on this growing phenomenon, some don’t have the skills or resources to begin with.
Southeast Asia’s premier content marketing network, GetCRAFT, recently conducted a survey among marketers in the country. Its results, revealed last July, sought to provide a clearer understanding of the current state of digital and content marketing, and expert advice on how marketers can best maximize them.
We sat down with GetCRAFT Co-Founder and Group CEO Patrick Searle to talk a little bit about this survey. He also shared lessons he picked up while working for Indonesian and Malaysian markets.
What are the biggest challenges that content marketers in the Philippines face?
"They see the opportunities and why they should focus on them. But they’re struggling in terms of knowledge, insights, and how to [use those].
The struggles they face come from two different areas. One is very much from a strategic, knowledge perspective. Currently, agencies are very separated into divisions: the creative agency, the media agency, etc. They tend not to collaborate. The brands struggle strategically because they don’t have these different skill sets [when] content marketing requires you to really pull back and think about the elements side by side.
The other is a tactical perspective. They’re creating more content now than ever, but they don’t know where to seek people. They don’t have a directory of good writers, videographers, designers, photographers, influencers, and publishers. That’s why we built GetCRAFT, to see if we can help solve that problem of getting quality content creators."
What specific trends or practices do you think must be let go of?
"I think the easy one is, 'Let’s go do a viral campaign.' What they mean is let’s just create premium content. It’s about creating really good content on a consistent basis, and if you’re lucky, it becomes viral.
I could say that small thinking will start to go away as well. There’s a bigger agency dynamic out there and I’m quite excited about what that will be like in the future, when there is consolidation, because it will lead to more 360 thinking and collaboration. Marketers are starting to get smarter and you’re going to be seeing bigger, more aggressive marketing content."
If these are the problems that agencies and GetCRAFT want to address in content marketing, what do you think are the effective things marketers in the Philippines have done so far?
"I’ve worked in a few different markets and I’m always impressed with the quality of marketing thought in the Philippines. You guys are very rigorous. You do your homework and actually understand why we do certain things. I’m impressed that you see the opportunities of what marketing should be. Where you struggle a little bit is on doing larger, more impactful work. Take influencer marketing. It’s hard to work with more than four or five influences like on an organic basis. You have yet to [work] on a scale that really takes off."
Do you think content marketing must compete against other above the line and below the line practices in marketing and advertising?
"I think because content marketing is a big element of general marketing and because it requires different divisions working together, it revolves around the bigger question of ‘What is an agency? What is marketing, in general?' That’s probably why there’s a lot of talk about it in relation to the evolution of marketing. Agencies are realigning themselves and consolidating. Almost the same thing is happening in content marketing. GetCRAFT is trying to go into the business and say that content is a little more central to marketing than it originally was. So we’re moving in that direction of what they really bring to the table."
Does this apply only to digital content marketing?
"Our job is to look at content holistically. But we focus on digital because more content is needed for that. There are many touch points."
What is your outlook on content marketing, regardless of the channel through which it’s being executed?
"We were in Indonesia and Malaysia for three years and we’ve been used to making up a pretty aggressive part of their media budgets. In the Philippines, we’re seeing a bit less. But for content marketing, I’m quite optimistic about what’s happening here. Bigger brands are moving towards it and we’re just there to help service the bigger trends. Next year I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more influencer marketing, branded content, and sponsored content advertising. Brands realize that it’s possible to be doing these and partly why this is is because GetCRAFT helps people do stuff in easier, more impactful ways."
Speaking of media budgets, is there a specific amount of money that marketers must spend in order to achieve their goals?
"After surveying marketers, they’re saying they’ve spent 21% of their budget on digital. I think that from everybody we spoke to, budgets are definitely behind the trend in terms of time spent on media. I think there will be a big growth towards [media spend] in terms of doing that type of work. At the same time, we have brands like Unilever saying to their creative agencies and brand managers that you need to be spending about a minimum 25% of your budget on content because it is effective."
In every marketing campaign that you’ve done, do you feel like you have to compete against organic content?
"Yes, actually. I don’t think brands and agencies do a good enough job of measuring organic content side-by-side with the performance of their own content on paid media. We believe there should be one measuring system where we see the results all rolled out—that is, views on how many people saw it, how many people engaged with it, and how many people actually converted to buy the products. We’re building a tool that will allow marketers to better measure organic versus paid sponsors and really make an informed decision on what would give the best ROI (Return of Investment)."
Has this tool already been invented in other countries? Is it being used there?
"It’s been invented. Right now we’re on the testing phase. We’ve shown a few clients and are getting feedback, but it has yet to go public. We’re looking for it to be out in the next four to six weeks. We think it’s going to be quite ground breaking when it happens because it will help people manage content creation and measure [it] simply but powerfully."
Besides the ongoing consolidation happening among agencies, what else do you think needs to change in the marketing industry?
"It’s more of a philosophy—a slight shift of focus. What I would say is that they need to get excited about media a bit more. I was running an agency and pushing my team to be like, you need to understand nuances of media."
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Banner photos by Barry Viloria