Entrepreneur

Why This M’sian Startup Believes Online Ads Can’t Replace Traditional Offline Ones

There’s a common belief that online ads may make traditional ads obsolete, especially with the ease of use and cost-effectiveness of the former.

But Therine Goh, co-founder and COO of AdEasy, disagrees. She believes that traditional media will always have its place. It just needs a helping hand to keep up with the times.

Curious to understand how, we asked for her thoughts on the state and future of traditional advertising in today’s digital world.

It Needed To Be ‘AdEasier’

AdEasy was founded based on Therine’s personal pain points when buying ad space on traditional media.

Having moved from a multinational corporation (MNC) to a local corporation, she was hampered by a smaller marketing budget.

“I couldn’t afford to hire a media agency like I used to at my previous job. I didn’t know where to start, and which media would be the most suitable for me. I spent a lot of time researching, and meeting media sales reps,” she said.

Moreover, these media sales reps would often prioritise clients with bigger budgets, as shared by co-founder, Melissa Sim, who has 12 years of work experience in the ad and media industry.

The reps would also claim that the media they are representing are the best, regardless of whether they are suitable for the client.

Image Credit: AdEasy

“That’s when we realised the gap in the market. Smaller budget advertisers are underserved, and there is no easy, automated way to buy traditional media,” Therine said.

In comes AdEasy, a one-stop solution for businesses of all sizes and budget ranges to easily find and book the right traditional ad space.

The online marketplace features over 90 media profiles across all offline media types and over 800 ad spaces.

Just key in your budget, target audience, location, and types of media that you are interested in, and the website will then recommend the most relevant spaces for you based on those criteria.

Traditional Ads Are Not Dead

One might think that with the rise of digitalisation, offline advertising has become irrelevant, but Therine said otherwise.

“Traditional advertising will always be relevant as it evolves with time and technology. From the good old times of putting up posters to evolving into billboards, and now digital billboards,” she answered.

Based on data AdEasy has gathered, the demand for traditional media, especially radio, out-of-home (OOH) and cinema ads are still high. In fact, AdEasy’s own 2018 revenue was made up mainly of:

  • Radio: 56%
  • OOH: 21%
  • Cinema: 15%
Image Credit: AdEasy Facebook

This seems to reflect a 2018 Malaysia ADEX report by GroupM, one of the world’s largest media investment companies.

The report shows that out of the RM4.48 billion spent on ads, 72% was spent on traditional media.

So, we know there is still a lot of demand for traditional ads, but what about their effectiveness?

Contrary to common belief, Therine said it is not about choosing one or the other. It’s about understanding the functions of both and deciding which would work best to achieve your objectives.

“Online advertising is great for short-term, tactical strategies, e.g. getting traffic, generating leads, etc.,” she explained.

Offline advertising, on the other hand, is effective for long-term strategies, i.e. building up your brand equity, aiding brand recall, creating loyalty, and stimulating demand. It also gives your brand credibility.

Therine Goh, AdEasy
Image Credit: AdEasy Facebook

As an example, Therine shared how Procter & Gamble (P&G) cut their digital ad spending by USD200 million in 2017, while shifting the funds to traditional media.

This move helped P&G eliminate 20% of its ineffective marketing and increased reach by 10%, as reported by Adweek.

“A good marketer would know how to strike a balance between the two, to be present in as many touchpoints as possible, while working within his/her marketing budget,” she explained.

The demand for offline advertising will eventually be on par with online, Therine believes. Once businesses eventually recognise the value of both forms of advertising, they’ll integrate both into their campaigns for optimal results.

However, an advantage that digital advertising still holds over the traditional is the ease of measuring and analysing data.

Therine shared that they plan to work on a solution via the use of technology such as big data. This will be funded by a portion of the RM850,000 they received from investors recently,

“We’re also investing in improving our UX, and making our platform more intelligent. We hope to make it not only easy but also effective for businesses to buy offline media, and to be able to track the effectiveness of their offline campaigns,” she said.

They also hope to launch a ‘personal virtual media planner’ that is able to provide pre- and post-campaign data, as well as a support feature for additional services such as design and production.

Leading The Charge

AdEasy intends to enter Singapore and Thailand by Q3 2020, with plans to introduce themselves to 4 to 5 markets in Southeast Asia in the next couple of years.

Image Credit: AdEasy

Despite their efforts, there is still much to do before traditional ads can be fully adapted to the digital age.

“There is no automated solution and no real-time data. As there is no transparency, the myth that offline advertising is expensive and exclusively for MNCs or big corporations with deep pockets still persists,“ Therine explains.

Therine acknowledged that there are major players in the industry trying to spearhead changes, but progress has been slow.

“We’re confident that the local industry will eventually catch up, and we’re happy to be the first few here in Malaysia to lead the change on digitalising traditional advertising,” she concluded.

  • You can find out more about AdEasy here.

Featured Image Credit: AdEasy

 

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