Introducing… Arvind Sethumadhavan, Client Growth Officer, APAC

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Arvind discusses the growth of digital media in APAC, the Cannes Lions Sustainable Development Goals category, and the TV series Black Mirror.

Why is now a good time for brands in APAC to be thinking about their approach to marketing effectiveness?

The region continues to be the brightest spark in the global economy. In January, the IMF upgraded its Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook for 2024, which measures GDP growth, from 4.2% to 4.5%. By way of contrast, the US is forecast to grow by 2.1%.  

At the same time, the marketing landscape in APAC continues to transform with an explosion of innovation around social commerce, retail media, connected TV, and “super” apps like WeChat that are creating new ways for marketers to engage with customers. As a result, digital media investment now accounts for over 70% of total media investment in the region. 

Increased digital media choice and spend, coupled with the phasing out of third-party cookies on Google Chrome, means marketers need to refresh their approach to marketing measurement to ensure they are delivering effective work. 

What are some of the key challenges marketers in APAC face when it comes to refreshing their approach?

The biggest challenge is understanding the effectiveness of digital marketing at a granular level. To overcome this, marketers need to develop a robust data strategy which uses multiple sources of quality data and takes account of the diversity of local AdTech platforms. They also need to ensure they have the capabilities and culture to generate and action data-informed insights that drive growth. Since joining Gain Theory, I have been excited by the potential of the team and the solutions we have at our disposal to help marketers do this. I am looking forward to unlocking the APAC opportunity working with Justin Nel who has recently joined us to lead our growth agenda in the Australian market.  

What’s the best innovative campaign you’ve seen recently?

I’ve seen some great campaigns in the Cannes Lions Sustainable Development Goals category, which celebrates creative problem solving, solutions or other initiatives that positively impact the world. I particularly liked The Well-Being Index from Nikkei, the largest financial newspaper in the world, which I thought was very powerful. It was based on a new metric – Gross Domestic Well-Being – that was created to measure a country’s growth in place of GDP.  

You’re a mentor at the Singapore Management University’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship – please tell us about your role and some of the exciting projects you’ve come across…

The aim of the SMU’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) is to nurture changemakers and founders who aspire to make the world a better place. To enable this, the IIE has created a risk-free environment for young entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and scale them, supported by industry mentors. I have had the privilege of mentoring a diverse set of start-ups delivering solutions covering areas such as AI, blockchains, the circular economy, ESG reporting, and gaming. Two innovative initiatives I was particularly proud to mentor were a student-founded start-up called Crowd9, which revolutionized gaming crowdfunding in the Web3 space, and a Gen AI Hackathon we ran for the SMU Library that used OpenAI and Llama II. 

What TV show would you recommend?

I found Black Mirror, a British TV series created by Charlie Brooker, to be very telling of the current state of play in the world. It gives the viewer a lot to think about, particularly regarding new digital technologies and AI. Personally, I think it’s important to keep in mind that there is a real person behind every data point in our digital world. In this context, the rhetoric needs to change from humans versus machines to humans plus machines. 

Contact Arvind to discuss any of the issues raised in this Q&A

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