An Omni-channel Experience is Key: Tom Wan, Experience, Ogilvy China

by India Fizer , AdForum

Ogilvy China
Full Service
Beijing, China
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Tom Wan
President, Experience, China Ogilvy China

New media in the digital landscape is rapidly progressing and the new year brings many opportunities to dive into new forms of storytelling. We chatted with Tom Wan, President of Ogilvy China's Experience business, about consumers’ evolving engagement pattern with brands in the digital space and the importance of having an omni-channel presence.


The rise of social media platforms has made them key to brand recognition. In what ways does your agency utilize social media to inform/engage your audience and how do you see that evolving?

The importance of social media platforms in China’s rapidly digitalizing economy cannot be stressed enough. Unlike most countries, Chinese consumers’ engagement pattern with brands in the digital space is far more diverse, with each platform serving to achieve different marketing purpose.

WeChat remains the centralized customer hub for most brands to build seamless experience with their customers from contents to services, across the entire loyalty funnel. E-Commerce platform like Taobao and JD present more than a transactional platform, enabling brands to build awareness and storytelling. Weibo is considered as main PR release channel, especially for new product launch and celebrity partnerships involved. And other emerging platforms such as XiaoHongShu (Little Red Book) and Douyin, are seen as content seeding/ boosting platforms, through vertical KOL/KOC marketing tactics.

We are already witnessing an evolution in the way consumers interact across different platforms. In the past, social media platforms were popular to be used as brand communication and live streaming ecommerce, with the WeChat ecosystem being used to build private domain to retain and stimulate engagement. Today, we are seeing a big shift towards private domains and communities. Social media platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou have become home to brands to build a private domain within platform and nurture a community of KOCs, alongside the WeChat private domain to form mature monetary mode.


How has the pandemic affected the way consumers use social media and which platform is the most relevant to your agency?

The pandemic has, without a doubt, elevated the use of digital platforms among Chinese consumers.

With fettered access to offline social activities and more consumers choosing to stay home, there has been a significant rise in consumption of online digital media among Chinese consumers. The most notable change in the behavior is seen in e-commerce livestreaming – wherein streamers introduce products and users can ask questions and purchase online – stimulating the real in-store experience of talking to a knowledgeable sales expert. Livestreaming has also been popular in bringing offline events online including new product launches, cross-city conferences, and even international concerts.

For brands to succeed in China, they must be able to provide a seamless experience from online to offline and vice versa and be able to offer an omni-channel experience to their customers. And as a result, it is virtually impossible to pick one platform as the most important one.


To what degree does the innovative use of media by agencies and companies shape the way new media evolves? (eg: interactive campaigns)

A strong argument can be made in favor of agencies and companies shaping the way new media evolves.

While it is important for agencies and companies to deliver the right content to the right audience in the right timing within minimum lead-time, how they do it is as important, if not more. With an abundance of products to choose from and content to consume, brands need to be able to capture a consumer’s attention in a matter of seconds in the most creative and innovative way possible.

To drive efficiencies and improve the performance of content-led campaigns, Ogilvy launched a new content offering to automate content development, distribution, and optimization. It includes end-to-end solutions to clients across social, eCommerce and gaming content, short-video production, O2O design and live streaming. The offering has been established through partnerships with AI technology startups in the areas of social listening, AI content development, real-time customer analytics, digital asset management and AI-powered image and video optimization.


How do you utilize data analytics to create more engaging campaigns?

Data-driven insights is a must-have to deliver personalized customer engagement. In the past, we created ideas and improvements based on historical data from previous campaigns.

But today, as part of broader Technology Hub, Ogilvy relies on a network of leading data and marketing technology partners to deploy data-powered solutions, resulting in accelerated revenue conversion and operational excellence for our clients. By leveraging those partnerships, we can help clients with CRM/loyalty program design, including customer recruitment with look-alike modeling, segmented customer communication, existing customer re-targeting, as well as digital ecosystem customized journey design and execution.


What contemporary forms of new media are you planning on using to reach audiences?

While social platforms have become popular and must-have for people of all ages, it is important for marketers to understand the consumption landscape in China. China’s media consumption landscape is such that there is no “one-size fits all”. Among all social media platforms, the short-form video has showed an explosion in China, together with the increasing usage of apps like Douyin and Kuaishou. The content delivered via short-form video is summarized, fragmented, and engaging, which especially match with Gen Z’s needs. Marketers should consider on how to change the way brands interact with customers in this new format, with the appropriated integration on leveraging those platforms for advertising. With the growth of 5G installation and coverage, marketers can even apply much more enriched multi-media technology for developing profound and vivid interactions with consumers online.