Government,Industry form digital advertising alliance in Singapore

Singapore : Trade associations, government agencies and education service providers are coming together in a concerted effort to build a vibrant digital advertising sector that will serve Singapore and beyond.

At an industry event today marking the formation of the Digital Advertising Alliance among five trade associations, guest-of-honour Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, announced that the Media Development Authority (MDA) and the multi-agency outfit Interactive Digital Media Program Office (IDMPO), will invest S$30 million over the next three years in support of the Alliance’s goal to grow digital advertising’s share towards total advertising spending in Singapore from the current 5.3% to 20% by 2020.

Helping to steer the industry toward this goal are lead government agencies MDA and DesignSingapore Council. The MDA has been helping to catalyse the growth of the digital advertising sector by supporting the development and commercialisation of R&D projects in the areas of analytics, payments and digital advertising applications and services. DesignSingapore Council has set aside capability development funds to support industry players and associations for upgrading programmes in digital media design and exposure to relevant foreign markets and festivals.

Dr Christopher Chia, Chief Executive Officer of MDA, said: “Just as the proliferation of IDM innovations will help shape the development of our digital advertising sub-sector, the success of the digital advertising industry will also have a significant bearing on the long-term sustainability and vibrancy of our IDM sector. Hence, the partnership between advertising and IDM is a powerful one with immense potential, bringing together both the ‘right brain’ – creativity – and the ‘left brain’ – technology – to strategically position Singapore to benefit from the digital media boom that is happening all around the world. MDA will be working closely with our fellow government agencies and the industry to unlock the growth potential in digital advertising.”

Singapore’s IDM sector has registered a compound annual growth of 20% for the last three years. According to latest figures from Deloitte, in 2009, the IDM sector’s value-added grew 15.1% to reach S$867 million. These are encouraging growth indicators for a sector that was insignificant just a few years ago. The digital advertising spending increased from S$51.3 million in 2008 to S$64.6 million in 2009, registering a 26% growth, notwithstanding the economic uncertainty last year, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Jeffrey Ho, Executive Director of DesignSingapore Council said: “Recent growth of the digital advertising sector in Asia is very rapid that it would be a lost opportunity if Singapore does not ride this wave. Advertising designers can capitalise on the intersection of design, interactive digital media and new business innovation, and at the same time, push the creative frontier to deliver effective new media advertising for other businesses. I am heartened by the Alliance’s move to come together to share knowledge, resources and to collaborate with each other. The DesignSingapore Council will continue to support digital advertising players through grants and programmes that industry associations, advertising firms and designers can tap on to enhance their capabilities and skills in interactive digital design for the new media.”

The formation of the Digital Advertising Alliance, consisting of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Singapore (AAAA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Institute of Advertising Singapore (IAS), the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF), is a significant move in the overall strategy to further propel the digital advertising sector forward. The Alliance will leverage its members’ varied experience for greater knowledge sharing and collaboration within the industry. It will encourage initiatives supporting the development of talent, enterprise and innovation, as well as promoting and upholding standards and guidelines that would contribute towards a vibrant digital advertising ecosystem.

Also unveiled today were several initiatives by members of the Alliance to boost enterprise development. One of these was the joint call between SiTF and MDA to encourage the development and usage of innovative technologies to measure the success of digital advertising campaigns. Going forward, MDA will continue to partner key demand drivers, such as SingTel, which issued a call today for digital advertising applications and services that could be deployed on its platforms. MDA will also work with industry players, such as Brandtology, to jointly issue calls that leverage IDM applications and services to drive innovative ideas from advertising agencies and developers.

Besides supporting innovation, the Alliance also recognised the importance of having accurate data and industry-wide standards and guidelines in place. To this end, the IAB embarked on two initiatives. The first is an Asia-focused Consumer Barometer, which reveals consumer attitudes and provides industry players with the tools to demonstrate the benefits of digital advertising. The second initiative provides media metrics and demographic information about online audiences to Small and Medium Enterprises, empowering them to make better informed decisions on their advertising investments. The MMA today also launched its Certified Mobile Marketer Program for Asia Pacific, making Singapore being the first market in the region to implement it. MMA is currently exploring the possibility of introducing guidelines for Consumers Best Practices in Singapore.

To meet the manpower demands of the growing digital advertising industry, the Alliance is working with various institutions to introduce programmes that cater to people at different stages of their careers. The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), in consultation with members of the Alliance, has rolled out Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications courses (WSQ) in new media, enabling media professionals to upgrade skill sets by attending these WSQ courses conducted by continuing education and training providers such as the Singapore Media Academy. Concurrently, local tertiary institutes such as Temasek Polytechnic and Nanyang Polytechnic are gearing up their abilities to provide pre-employment training in this area to young media professionals.

At the event, Acting Minister Lui Tuck Yew also toured cutting-edge, interactive exhibits by companies such as international advertising giant Dentsu Asia, which showcased its iButterfly, PhoneBook and Magastore applications. Also showcasing their latest innovations were local start-ups including Techsailor, a social media solutions company; MyAdEngine, a digital advertising campaign management company that connects with global platforms such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook; and Circos, which specialises in the field of analytics for the hospitality industry, leveraging on social media.

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