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Integrating Upstream and Downstream

hdtMEDIA focuses on creative content in 2019.

In January of this year, the 14th edition of Asian Angels ended with a bang in Beijing.

Now in its 14th year, The Asian Angels is a nine-month-long model competition that spans regions – competition are held all over China, from Shenzhen to Beijing – and platforms – the self-promotional videos and photos contestants post on their social media accounts are very much a part of the event.

For the 2019 edition, ownership of the widely popular event will be transferred from Rayli magazine to hdtMEDIA, an event partner in 2018.  While Asian Angels seems to diverge from what hdtMEDIA is traditionally known for, it might be a case where the fortune favour the brave.

Since its founding in 1999, hdtMEDIA has pushed out a plethora of tools and platforms,  including iCast, iFocus and hdtKOL, to help brands and advertisers navigate the ever-evolving China market.

But in 2019, the company’s new focus is on boosting its upstream activities, and integrating its upstream and downstream industry reach.

“The focus is on integration. Brands want more creative input from us,” says Cheng Haoran, CEO of hdtMEDIA. “We’ll develop our expertise in programmatic rich media, but we’ll also develop our own app, and a lot more content, be it videos, internet films or variety shows.”

Integration is the way forward

One way by which the company is accomplishing this is Asian Angels. Cheng doesn’t see the Asian Angels as a one-off event, but a lifestyle brand, with the model competition acting as a springboard for a plethora of activities.

This, Cheng says, “is the primary reason why hdtMEDIA wanted to take control of the creative and production processes. With ambitions of becoming a fully-fledged lifestyle brand, the ‘new’ Asian Angels will feature both ‘offline’ activities, including model competitions, catwalk and meet-and-greets, but also a plethora of ‘online actions’ that leverages hdtMEDIA technological expertise. These may include multi-screen live streaming across the company’s new app, and the company’s WeChat and Tiktok (“Douyin” in Chinese) accounts. ”

Having more creative control also means that Cheng and his team could better tap into its existing relationships with brands. “For example, we could collaborate with different brands to do cross-platform promotional activities.”

Programmatic rich media will have a greater role in hdtMEDIA’s new era of integration, according to Cheng. Relying solely on data though, is insufficient: creative must meets data – including those produced by AI – to produce dynamic ads – pre-roll, interstitial, full-screens, banners, in-stream videos etc. – to target specific audiences.

Cheng wants this amalgamation of creative and data to extend to the company’s hdtKOL platform.

Launched in the second half of 2017, the platform houses hundreds of thousands of different KOL (‘key opinion leader’, the more common term for ‘influencer’ in China) accounts, with unique small data allowing advertisers to track the behaviour of each KOL’s fans. While KOL marketing remains effective – “especially among the younger generation, who are getting lazier and wants to be told what to wear or consume” – Cheng notes that it should go the way of creative content marketing.

“This is especially true for lifestyle brands, where there are often many stories to tell through text, videos and such. They could link to online shop. We could create content hubs for these brands, on Weibo and Wechat, but also newer platforms including Little Red Book, TikTok (“Douyin” in Chinese) and Kwaishou.”

The future, as Cheng sees it, is integration – “from a business point of view, if we continue to act as a go-between for brands and advertisers, we’ll live a very difficult life. It’s better to take control of the process.”


原文刊发于《Campaign 》2019年3-4月刊。


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