February 29, 2016

IAB Fireside Chat Blog Series Part 3: Deep Diving into the Moonshot Thinking in Digital Marketing
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In last week’s Fireside Chat Blog Series Part 2, Google India’s SEA VP Rajan Anandan and LinkedIn’s APAC MD, Olivier Legrand sat down and delved into what agencies and brands can do to make Singapore a global leader in digital advertising.

This week, the topic honed in on how digital industry leaders can foster a culture of innovation in Asia’s emerging markets.  Jumping back, in the first post of this series, ‘How to win over Asia’s next billion users’, Olivier and Rajan touched on how overseas companies could bring Google’s Moonshot thinking into digital advertising strategies across Southeast Asia. Today, the Google Vice President digs deeper into how every individual in a company can aim to rebalance the global shift of innovation into developing markets.

Infront of an audience full of advertising specialists from all over the world, Olivier provoked the question on everyone’s mind: “How do you encourage leaders to promote a culture of thinking big through their teams across the region?”

Here are some key responses from Rajan:

1.  Shift the entire paradigm

“Doing something 10% better requires you to do just a few things slightly better right but if you want to do something 10x better, you have to radically change the paradigm and we always you know.”

In the traditional advertising industry, agencies are adverse to risk, but as we move into the digital era, the sky is the limit when it comes to new ways of enticing people to talk about your product. Creativity is becoming more of an asset for digital marketing strategies as companies are reassessing how consumers are absorbing information today.

Rajan took the example of online versus offline retailers in Singapore. “The reality is, all Singaporeans are online.” If a retailer merely optimises their offline store for mobile purchase that’s 10 per cent revenue, if they shifted their whole store online, well that’s aiming for a 10x increase in sales.

“[Growth] is not actually about advertising. It’s actually about how do you make your business digital. “Collectively, as an industry we have to do a lot more work on how can business users really digitise themselves for us and then how do they leverage the platforms that already exist.”

2.  A culture of innovation starts with the founders

An enthusiastic work force of creative problem solvers starts from the top. If regional leaders embed bigger thinking from the top down, they’ll get ideas from the bottom up.

“Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin] really instil this culture of thinking big. Any problem that you give us, you know whether it’s how do you get more users online, how do you get people to spend more time online et cetera. We always ask, ‘How could we make this 10x bigger?’”

“Larry and Sergey are very supportive of us [going for it] and we all have a passionate dislike for the 10%.”

In the case of Google, the mentality is applied to technology, but for leaders in digital marketing, this mentality can really elevate their brand to the next level. But big ideas are just that, ideas. In order to truly inspire their work force to create change, out-of-the-box ideas need to show immediete, measurable results.  

3. Innovation is embedded in culture

“We had one team member in here who said, ‘why don’t we give free access to 300 million people?’ Seriously, how are we going to do that? And that was the whole Wi-Fi in Railways right? And actually one person just focused on it for like two years to get all the basic things done and then BOOM! Now we are going live next week actually in our first station.”

“It starts with the culture that says, ‘you know, we really want to do something much bigger and then that culture permeates and the only reason it works is over time,’ you have to build a track record of showing the teams that it can be done.”

As leaders in digital advertising, we might not be shooting for self-driving cars or creating augmented reality glasses, but what we can do is to communicate to our companies that we’re open to new ideas. This mentality is necessary for survival in the digital era where technology is evolving faster than humans can keep up. While there are thousands of new digital advertising technologies out there, the real innovation comes from people within in the company.

That wraps it up for our three-part blog series with Olivier and Rajan. Follow us on twitter @iabsg for our upcoming blog posts covering all of IAB’s events and trainings.

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