Agency business has become incredibly complex: Head of Global Agencies, APAC, Twitter

Simon Brockman talks about challenges before agencies in highly competitive environment, use of influencers and bots on Twitter, and much more

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Updated: Jul 9, 2018 8:58 AM

From brands like Ola to Amazon, actresses like Deepika Padukone to Swara Bhaskar to politicians across all parties - Twitter wars have not spared anyone. The use of influencers on the platform and bots have also been under the scanner. With so much under scrutiny, we speak to Simon Brockman - Head of Global Brands & Agencies, Asia Pacific, Twitter, to find out their strategy for Indian markets and more.
Edited excerpts:

Keith Weed of Unilever recently said that his company will distance itself from influencers who buy followers. The problem of bot fraud is huge. How do you deal with it?

Brand safety is the top priority for us. Good user experience is very important for user growth. If you get that right, everything else follows. Brand safety is also one of the reasons we invest in premium video content with our partners, as this makes it 100 per cent safe. There is 100 per cent functionality and there is no ad fraud. This is also why we talk about in-stream video. It is one of the most brand-safe products in the market.

What are the major challenges that media agencies are facing these days?

It’s a tough time. Clients are very demanding. Business is changing; it’s becoming incredibly complex. Also, retention of staff is a perennial problem. Employees these days have so many choices in terms of channels and formats and it is difficult to retain them. I think one way to deal with this problem is to upskill the rising stars or good performers within an agency through education and training. This will help the agency retain their best people.

The Cost Per Engagement on Twitter is down by 28 per cent. What’s the sweet spot that you are aiming for in 2018?

It’s all about user experience. If the user experience is good, you will have more people on your platform and more often. Also, if your products are better, like video website card and video app in our case, you can do better in advertising and delivering campaigns. Also, our investment in big sporting events such as 2018 FIFA World Cup would mean that the user experience on our platform is better. And better experience would mean that we have more users on the platform. So more investment would mean that there is deeper engagement from the users.

What are the kind of demands you receive from advertisers in India?

Innovation and creativity. India is a very competitive market. In the Indian market, we are asked for solutions on Twitter which are creative, stand out and have the ability to win votes. 


Which ad formats are doing well in India?

India is a very important market. It is already one of our fastest growing regions and we are doing great business there. As far as ad formats are concerned, we have seen the maximum growth in video, in India as well as globally. Our in-stream video product is doing pretty spectacular. Video is what we lead with. It is our fastest growing and best product. In India, we have specific partnerships for videos in areas such as sports, entertainment and Bollywood.

Did you witness growth in the Indian market during the recently concluded IPL?

I don’t have the exact numbers but I am sure the answer would be yes. Partnerships with premium content, particularly in a video-rich market like India, tends to bring an increase in revenue as well as users base.

How is India an interesting market in terms of diversity in culture and language, etc?

India has such a diversity of people, food, culture and personalities. It is one of the most diverse countries in the world. The market has lot of optimism and ambition. If you look at western markets, they are sometimes very similar. But in APAC markets, there is less similarity between markets such as the Philippines and Singapore, or India which is culturally very different from China or Hong Kong.

The differences can be seen in terms of language, religion, food, the way of doing business, the appetite for doing business, or the size of the population, which brings more competition. There is such a variety in the business and it makes me smile sometimes when people from different countries think about APAC as a region where everything looks the same. But it is not true. There are fundamental differences.

It was mentioned that video website cards and video apps have contributed to a strong growth in ad revenue. What do you have to say about it?

Video website card is a fantastic product. It ensures deeper engagement of the users with the products that they are selling.

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