Keeping pace with the latest advertising trends is like chasing a train running at full speed. This is specially so in relation to the Hong Kong advertising market, which is regarded as highly competitive and aggressive, so that special efforts are needed to maintain a client's leading position in the public's eye.
"This competition covers all aspects of our field — the broader media advertising market covering commercials on TV and advertisements in the newspapers, plus outdoor advertising services," says Teresa Fung, general manager, JCDecaux Pearl & Dean Ltd, one of the region's major players.
Advertising space the company handles includes the MTR and Hong Kong International Airport in the territory. With one million-plus people using the MTR daily, its stations are a magnet for people to make frequent contact with advertisements.
"The MTR attracts advertising covering all walks of life," Ms Fung points out. "Today's dynamic lifestyle across Hong Kong means that people spend less time at home and more time shuttling to and from their destinations via public transport. As a result, the effectiveness of MTR advertising is on the rise. In fact, our clientele has been expanding since more SMEs have noticed the MTR's advantages and are now choosing this promotion method."
Trends in advertising today are evolving from two-dimensional to three-dimensional media, Ms Fung says. It is becoming an era of sounds and motions in outdoor advertisements, and still more interactive formats.
"Driven by market demand, we are moving forward in the direction of the latest technologies," she adds. "For example, one of JCDecaux's projects in 2006, a spectacular mobile showcase was set up to offer interactive games. The audience was attracted to the activities but at the same time received the messages from the client — a leading mobile phone brand promoting its products in this first-ever execution in the world." Along with the traditional display designs, the company endeavour to provide innovative options to customers. The real time projection zone for HSBC is another successful example.
Nowadays, customers are becoming more vigilant with so much variety available in the market. There are different combinations and selections of advertising channels with various costs and coverage.
To measure the success of an advertising campaign, Ms Fung explains, both quantitative and qualitative methodologies are adopted. Figures such as sales volume reflect the results whereas "message recall" or "brand recall" research is widely used within the industry to gauge the effectiveness of an advertisement. Additionally, JCDecaux organises the Best of the Best Award, its annual anchor, to showcase quality outdoor advertising programmes.
Good physical condition is an important asset among sales teams in the advertising industry. This does not imply long working hours or a heavy workload. The job simply requires such levels of energy and dedication that one cannot expect to work in front of the computer desk all day long. "For instance, a member of staff may be required to take a number of trips with advertisers and agencies for key advertising campaigns in one of the MTR stations, to ensure it has the best possible presentation. This can be physically demanding," Ms Fung says. In other words, anyone who looks to joining the vibrant industry should be able to enjoy the excitement a project can bring.
With competition today keener than ever, the demands and expectations of customers are accelerating. To ensure clients' satisfaction, sales staff must listen carefully to the views of advertisers and help to find out their needs. Staff handling a particular project must also be able to initiate or accommodate changes that are necessary in carrying out the advertising process.
"Each and every advertiser is provided with a custom-made proposal to suit their special needs. Staff should attend to every detail in order to achieve the best solutions," Ms Fung adds. "Skills in giving professional presentations on products and research findings are also the key to securing a deal. It therefore follows that we seek candidates with a sound academic background. Those who possess interpersonal communication skills are logically more valuable."
Promotion in JCDecaux is mainly performance-based. Ms Fung cites the example of one staff member who was promoted to account manager within months of joining the firm. "This can happen to the right persons as they can learn a lot from the on-the-job training we provide."
- Advertising trends shifting to three-dimensional media to include sounds, motions and more interactive formats
- Customers becoming more vigilant with wider varieties of channels available, taking into consideration the costs and coverage
- "Message recall" or "brand recall" research widely used to gauge the effectiveness of advertisements
- SMEs have started to notice the advantages of advertising at MTR stations