TikTok Thumbnail Insight
Apr 12

Aligning your brand with TikTok

In part 1, we covered how TikTok differs from Instagram Reels, what subcultures are (aka community), how trends form, and why audio both does and doesn’t matter.

This round, we’re breaking down how your brand can create for TikTok, why subculture matters, and finally, we’ll shine a light on brands that are flourishing and what the takeaways are.

But first, the pre-requisites for effective content creation on TikTok

From the metrics the algorithm values to what captures user attention, success on the app comes with a set of rules. Though open-ended, these rules offer guidance towards understanding the algorithm and leveraging it to create compelling content.

One of these so-called rules is neatly wrapped up in the term “account authority”.

Account authority

In a nutshell, this impacts how your content is distributed to new viewers. Think of it as your content being graded by TikTok’s algorithms, based upon a few elements which are worth taking note of for a successful TikTok strategy.1

First 5 posts Verticality View tiers Deleted videos
TikTok wants you to create a consistent type of video. The first five you create help TikTok evaluate what kinds of videos you’ll continue making. Think of these as your first impression on TikTok. To build authority (or credibility), pick a theme or topic and stick to creating content around it. Switching into a new category is akin to starting all over because you lack authority in that vertical. The number of views you get determines what tier your account is and how easy or challenging it would be to go viral. E.g., 1000-3000 views mean you’re a mid-tier account. Constant deletions tell TikTok that your account puts out a high rate of poor-performing videos.2

Why do view tiers matter?

View tiers are levels of distribution to a cold audience (people who aren’t following you) and your followers based on certain metrics1 such as:

  • Watch time completion and re-watches
  • Engagement variety (e.g., Likes, comments, shares)
  • Engagement velocity (how quickly users engage with a piece of content)

There are 5 view tiers in total, where each level up increases the number of cold audiences TikTok shows your videos to. Whether your video is shown to additional viewers is dependent on overall performance, including the above mentioned metrics.

This brings us back to the fact that TikTok is extremely user-centric. They want to show their users videos that will capture and retain their attention. Hence, watch time is the most competitive metric and the most important one.

While trends abound, people also enjoy content that is unique. This leads us to a big part of what it means to really create for the app.

Create for TikTok

TikTok Content Image

You mean I can’t just jump on trends or repurpose existing videos?

Jack Gordon, an experimental YouTuber, went viral on TikTok in 7 days.3 Here is what he found:

  • The algorithm values standalone videos created for the app. A 6-part series repurposed from a YouTube video needs context and hence, does not do too well.
  • Doing what is popular doesn’t make sense. People would easily get bored and are going to seek out unique videos.
  • The algorithm is like a person who wants to be entertained, hence the algorithm is going to look for fresh new content.

These findings drive home the point that creating FOR TikTok is important. It emphasises that the community and culture on TikTok are different from other apps.

We chatted with our behind-the-scenes TikTok expert and their process.

On top of repurposing TikTok content to Instagram (not the other way around), they added, “most of my content is TikTok-relatable, so if you’re not on the platform, you wouldn’t get it.”

A big part of being relatable on TikTok is understanding who your audience is and creating content that resonates with them. This leads us to the value of finding your subculture, A.K.A your community on TikTok.

Find your subculture

TikTok Content Image

First, themes or verticals are not the same as a subculture. A theme or vertical is broad. It can be a category or niche, while a subculture is a community. For example,

Theme: Food


  • #CookingASMR: Relaxing videos that showcase recipes or the cooking process with an emphasis on showcasing sound.
  • #TooGoodToWaste: A sustainability-focused food subculture that revolves around using up food and reducing waste.
  • #BrunchTok: An aesthetic foodie community committed to creating beautiful meals.

To find your subculture, consider niche interests that align with your brand.4 Subcultures often rise around similar interests or mindsets regarding these topics.4 If a large enough hashtag exists (like #BrunchTok), chances are that there’s an audience there interested in what you might offer.

Doing enough research into a subculture helps your brand4:

  1. Connect with highly engaged and interested communities
  2. Understand these communities’ interests, mindsets, and psychographics to create content that resonates
  3. Tailor your content and approach to effectively target an audience
  4. Establish genuine connection, garnering enormous reach and engagement
  5. Create a brand image around the way you want to be perceived

To give you a clearer picture of how different brands achieved this (beyond funny videos, dance trends, or the classic fashion and cosmetics industries), we’ve analysed two case studies below.

Case Studies

Ryanair: Building a successful community

TikTok Content Image


Subculture: #Flying


  • Their hashtag #RyanAir hit 655.1M views

Ryanair blew up on TikTok by delivering traditional PR in a way that’s entertaining and relevant.

What they did well6:

  • Comedic content revolving around their value proposition, affordability.
  • Customer experiences and their criticisms flipped into jokes that are both self-aware and entertaining.
  • Videos that leverage trending audio and text memes.7


  • Show up early and experiment.
  • Lose the corporate tone of voice and change the language to suit the audience on TikTok.
  • Read comments to see how people engage with your brand and interact with your viewers.
  • TikTok is a creator-first platform. Creators do more than sell, they build personality.

A testament to the community they’ve built is clear based upon the user-generated content (UGC) from fans of Ryanair. Gen-Zs are so committed they purchased Ryanair flights simply to film they’ve been inside the TikTok famous plane.5

Little Moons: Sparking engagement and driving mass awareness

TikTok Content Image

Source: Hydrogen

Subculture: #ASMR #SatisfyingVideos #Mochi


  • 7M Impressions
  • 15,000 User Generated Videos
  • #LittleMoons hit 150.7M views
  • #LittleMoonsMochi hit 107.7M views

Little Moons Mochi ice cream went viral in the UK after TikTokers shared themselves discovering these small, aesthetically packaged treats.8 As the brand gained traction on TikTok, Little Moons took advantage of its virality and put out content to further sustain momentum.

What they did well6:

  • Brand-created content leveraging trending or viral sounds, while tapping heavily into the #ASMR and #Satisfying videos community.6
  • User-generated content involving food reviews and how users can get their hands on the sell-out ice cream.6
  • To date, their best performing videos involve hands-on squishing and smush-ing the ice cream balls.


  • Leverage FOMO and user curiosity to drive store traffic.8
  • Harness an organic trend and prolong a viral moment.9
  • Gen-Z uses TikTok as a source of inspiration and is primed to discover food brands and share them.
  • Support organic content with a well-placed ad strategy9. Little Moons ran a One Day Max In-Feed Ad. It displayed natively in the For You feed, intended to retain an organic feel to maximise engagement. This paid off, resulting in a 1300% increase in sales in Tesco.


TikTok is an experimental platform with the ability to complement the rest of your marketing channels. It has demonstrated sales impact, opportunities for community engagement, and ramped up awareness for brands. It’s a channel well worth pondering and pursuing.

Kickstart your TikTok strategy with us today. Get in touch.

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Mar 16

TikTok vs Instagram Reels: What brands need to know

TikTok’s been abuzz for some time now and for good reason, the app is a hub for virality with influence on mainstream culture and consumer interest. Naturally, brands are interested in getting a piece of the pie. Especially if they’re already familiar with Instagram. Yet there isn’t much discussion covering TikTok’s fundamental difference from the Instagram equivalent, Reels.

So, before your brand sinks time into the predominantly Gen-Z app, let’s break down why it does what it does, and what’s different from Instagram.

The quick ABCs of TikTok

TikTok comes in with around:

  • 800 million1 monthly active users worldwide, with 240 million in Southeast Asia2
  • Their largest age group is between 18–34-year-olds1
  • Users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the app1

The premise of TikTok is that anyone can go viral, and this is largely because of the way the app’s community participates and interacts with content.3

First, the app’s users find new people and brands via a single source, the For You Page (FYP). This is the discovery equivalent of Instagram’s home feed, Explore page, and Reels tab all in one. The For You Page is fuelled by an algorithm entirely focused on keeping consumers watching. The algorithm even evaluates content based on key metrics including engagement velocity, re-watching, and watch time.4

In a nutshell, TikTok is highly user-centric. This encourages users to keep watching and for Creators to create engaging content.

Difference No.1: On TikTok, sound is creative

article tiktok - headphone

Music is a core part of TikTok and is where its first difference from Instagram Reels appears.

Reels TikTok
Original music* Instagram prefers users use existing sounds Original sounds are included in TikTok copyright7
Remixes and creativity Strict audio restrictions impact original sound usage and impose barriers upon creativity5 Dozens of remixes available, many of which are not found on Instagram

*Original music includes non-artist and artist sounds. This can be voice overs, voice recordings, licensed music, remixes, etc.

And here is the kicker,

TikTok’s penchant for virality stems from having this creative audio freedom.

Viral trends sprout in response to songs and audio clips that are available to users to “remix, re-purpose, and reimagine in their own creative ways.”7

The implications of this are huge—enough that TikTok has become a channel that revives old music, improves discoverability of new artists, and through their viral trends, catapult Creators to fame.

article tiktok - smartphone

What TikTok audio does for brands

TikTok’s viral songs have massive impact on brands too. TikTok helps drive “record-high engagement rates”,8 and through a partnered study with Kantar, discovered it is the only platform where ads with audio generate significant lifts in both purchase intent and brand favourability.7

Brands this is news for you.

73% of respondents said they would “stop and look” at ads on TikTok with audio.7

But wait, there is more. Utilising trending songs offer brands the opportunity to improve awareness and their image. According to TikTok’s MRC Data report,3

  • 68% of users say they remember the brand better
  • 58% say they feel a stronger connection to the brand
  • 58% of users also say they’re more likely to talk about the brand or share the ad
  • 62% say they’re curious to learn about the brand.

Here is a key fact: audio really matters here. More so than you might think.

Difference No.2: Trends, micro-trends, and subcultures originate from TikTok

Trends & micro-trends

article tiktok -

Let’s begin by defining the difference between a trend and a subculture.

Trends are something, from a dance to food recipes (like the baked feta pasta recipe), that are popular at a point in time. They encourage participation but tend to be fleeting.

Trends largely begin on TikTok and then spread through mainstream channels and culture.

Our behind-the-scenes TikTok expert agrees and adds that “most content pushed out on Instagram are either about filters or joining in on trends which were found on TikTok weeks, if not months, ago.”

Compared to Instagram’s slower trend uptake, TikTok’s trend lifecycles are in-built into the app’s community. Within TikTok, trends or micro-trends can effectively turn into their own native subcultures, or in other words, a highly invested community united through like-minded interests and passions.

One instance of a trend-turned-subculture is #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. What began as a micro-trend featuring products consumers and creators were influenced into buying escalated into a community on TikTok with massive sales impact. A report by Similarweb tracking product sales noted that

“Beauty products that went viral on TikTok earned an average of 85.3% month-on-month sales growth on Amazon.9

Paula’s Choice is one such brand. After dermatologist TikToker Dr. Muneeb Shah endorsed the Paula’s Choice BHA Exfoliant in a TikTok video (hitting 3.3 million views), sales on Amazon increased 13% month-on-month.9


So, what about subcultures? The opposite can happen where a subculture sows the seeds for wider trends.10

A subculture is a community united by similar passions and interests; it’s often an interest that deviates from the mainstream.

Take #CottageCore for example. This subculture revolves around romanticised western agricultural life and carries a soothing, often nature-inspired air revolving around a sense of comfort. As of 2021,

“#CottageCore (…) garnered over 3.5 billion views on TikTok and spurred various microtrends in fashion, lifestyle, food, and home décor.”11

article -tiktok

What began as a subculture has trickled down into mass consumption, where #CottageCore became a massive fashion trend with real-world impact. In 2021 alone, fast fashion retailers stocked thousands of whimsical dresses emulating this trend.

Omnilytics data showed “over 4,000 new dresses tagged under ‘puff sleeves’ at [these] retailers”12 while other defining #CottageCore characteristics like checks patterns were tagged in over 51,000 products.12

Subculture impact is not limited to beauty or fashion, #BookTok is a clear indicator of that. “The #BookTok hashtag has racked up over 5.8 billion views, and some authors have seen a tenfold increase in book sales for works that are often decades old.”13

It’s clear micro-trends and subcultures have a significant impact on not just products, but whole industries.

TL; DR: What should brands take note of?

The short answer comes down to three things. Authenticity. Storytelling. Community interaction.

While audio plays a big role in raising view count, it doesn’t do all the heavy lifting. Our TikTok expert notes, “if an audio fits my idea, I’ll use it. If not, there’s no need to force it.” TikTok at the end of the day is an algorithm that wants to show people what they like.

And people don’t just like viral, catchy hooks—as evidenced by the For You Page’s unique quagmire of entertainment that spans education, inspiration, and even flat-out tragic comedy.

Next up: We’re breaking down how your brand can capitalise on TikTok, how to build a loyal, invested community, and why TikTok account authority matters.

Want to kickstart your TikTok strategy? Get in touch.

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Feb 25

Creativity: Why you’ll wish you took the leap

Creativity in your ads matter. It’s the meat to an ad’s bones, the “wow” factor, and the secret to an impression that sears itself into memory. Without creativity, there is little room to try something new nor the opportunity to tailor your ads to your audience.

Before you think “personalise and optimise”, you must embrace creative.

Statistics1 show:

  • You have 7 seconds to engage a user on a social platform.
  • Facebook users click on 12 ads every 30 days.
  • Only 16% of advertising is both recalled and correctly attributed to the brand.2

A creatively strong ad is 27% more effective than a weak one. How so?2

  • Compelling ads deliver 11x higher ROI than non-creative campaigns.
    People believe a brand is high-quality and worth their attention because they’re impressed by the effort that went into producing a creative ad.2
  • Creative ads make a brand more competitive.
    The advent of social media upped the need for constant content. This churn in a bid for relevance means simply being present isn’t enough. The brand must stand out.
  • Creative ads reach more people (and save on media spend).
    Ads that elicit a “wow” or some kind of visceral reaction are more likely to be shared organically, especially on social media.

Why creativity impacts the consumer response

What is it about creativity that inspires people to buy product more than its catalogue of attributes and benefits? Harvard wondered that exact same thing. Better still, they conducted a study. In that study, they took apart the elements of creativity and examined which ones linked directly to sales and consumer response.3

More interestingly, of the five elements of creativity examined, the top two forms that drove sales were called elaboration and artistic value.3

  • Elaboration
    An unexpected twist, detail, or extension of a simple idea.
  • Artistic value
    Where an ad is viewed as a piece of art rather than a blatant sales pitch.

If you read only one sentence today, let it be this: the Harvard study found that highly creative ad campaigns, on average, nearly double the sales impact of a euro spent on a non-creative campaign.3

Creativity is more than visual, it’s also copy

Often, we perceive creativity as visual and forget the other stuff. Yet, the underrated hero in any ad campaign is copy. Whether in branding or lead generation, the words you write matter. From the way copy shapes brand identity to the subtle recognition it offers your ads through consistency, copy matters.

A unique brand voice differentiates your brand from the competition; persuasive language incites urgency and emotion. Good, creative copy not only raises a brow, it speaks to your audience. Makes them feel valued, seen, and heard.

To fully leverage the returns creativity offers, tailor both your visuals and copywriting to your target audience.

What is the next step for marketers?

  • Embrace that creativity and digital go hand in hand. Focus on authenticity and what resonates with your audience.4
  • Build for each channel.4 Don’t simply repurpose. Make sure creative is native to the platforms (or even unique).
  • Use analytics to understand what your audience is seeking and how they react to those ads.
  • Test your ad elements one at a time (like a CTA) and don’t be afraid to experiment with different ad versions across platforms. Who knows? Maybe your audience prefers video to static, or comparison to carousel.


Digitisation has made reaching your audience easy, and yet tough, because every brand has gone digital. The key to leveraging digital and differentiating oneself is through embracing creativity. Hook your audience with creativity that sparks, better understand them through the data you collect, personalise your creative assets, and repeat. You’ll get better engagement, better performance, and improved brand recognition. Over time, this could reflect in improved ROI.

Looking for help with personalising your ads? Or to take your creative storytelling to the next level?

Get in touch.

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Jan 25

The What, Why, Who, and How

Chances are the first place you heard about the metaverse came hand-in-hand with Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement: Facebook is now called Meta.

Except, what is it exactly?

WHAT is the Metaverse?

Our head of strategy, Edmund Lou, shares “being in the metaverse is essentially you in the digital world; portrayed by a virtual or digital you, an avatar1. A you-niverse that allows you to experience everything you want in that space.”

This digital rendition of everyday life, Lou notes, “is essentially [shared] virtual space[s] for people to gather”2 and do what they do in physical reality.

WHY is the Metaverse happening now?

You might wonder, why is the metaverse only happening now? In fact, elements of metaverse have been “happening” for some time. This is evident in the self-contained virtual realities and what passes as “everyday” to the gaming community.3

So why is this reaching the rest of us now? First, you likely heard it from Zuckerberg. Second and more importantly, this was digital’s natural next step. It just needed an impetus.

Prior to the pandemic, consumers already lived their lives online. The allure of whatever-you-need-at-your-fingertips, from food to entertainment, meant few things were truly experienced physically. The onset of at-home mandates, spurred by a contagion, only took this up a notch.

The last two years were a flurry of digital-first services meeting consumer demand. Businesses took advantage of existing infrastructure and innovation to pivot online, cementing the existence of today’s digital-physical reality.

WHO & HOW will this affect them?

1. Consumer experiences will be increasingly personalised

Expect even more consumer-focused experiences because whether it’s through hyper-personalised content or persuasive tech, the goal is to keep users scrolling. Consumers will be further incentivised to join and stay on certain platforms.

A notable example is Facebook’s feed algorithm.4 Briefly, the social network takes inventory of posts available in a user’s network and scores them according to predetermined ranking signals. Taking information from the user’s past engagement, Facebook demotes content and scores posts to show you a personalised feed tailored to your behaviour.

As tech giants work to keep users on their platforms, attention as a commodity will only become scarcer. Your best bet against attention scarcity? Take your cue from the giants and focus on the customer. Dig into personalisation, customer data, and targeting.

The value in understanding your audience will only go upwards as competition rises and consumer attention wanes.

Gucci Garden on Roblox via TechCrunch

2. Consumer needs & expectations will evolve

A. Expect changing consumer-brand interaction

Consumer behaviour changed alongside the rise of digital spaces and social networks. More than likely, they’ll also keep up with the integration of the metaverse and its elements.

We look back to the impacts of social networks. Social media enabled users a never-before-seen way to communicate with brands and vice versa. This offers brands more personability, but it also meant brands had to deal with issues in a faster and more humanised manner.

The advent of the metaverse offers even more connective, engaging ways to interact with the consumer. Gone is the clear line between branded and humanised content when it comes to dealing with an online community. In its place is an expectation of organic interaction.

B. Consumer values (digitally) are going to evolve

As people, the things we own have value to us. Up till now, these things primarily consisted of tangible items. The stuff you can grasp in your hands. Oftentimes, the reason we valued our belongings so much were because we invested time, energy, and money into gaining these things.

That extra skin involved in owning the item matters. This does not change even if the item is digital, and gamers know this — collectables, avatar skins, and limited-edition digital items have value and are worth collecting to them. Soon, that’s going to translate beyond the gaming community.

In fact, some mainstream consumers have already made this shift. Think of mobile games that incentivise users to spend money on digital items with zero physical value. Not convinced? Covet Fashion, a gaming app that teams up with fashion brands, sees around USD10 to USD15 spent in-app per session.5 While not quite on the same level as shelling out USD 4115 for a Roblox-exclusive, digital-only Gucci bag, it still centres around the same concept; online product value is still considered value.6

As consumer expectations shift, brands can increase their focus on community experiences.7 This draws a rough guide of what to expect: a new level of immersive and interactive experiences.

For brands seeking to8:

  • Make press headlines with first or early-move media innovations,
  • Test and learn as the metaverse evolves toward its vision,
  • Reach a subset of Gen Z-ers and young Millennial audiences,

The metaverse is ripe for experimentation. The key is:

  • To work with existing creators, influencers, and communities that are most primed for the metaverse.7 Learn from the innovators and early adopters who are most familiar with this sphere.
  • To keep your expectations low and your imaginations high. Though a revenue-based ROI from metaverse custom media buys8 aren’t in the books yet, there are plenty of options to enhance consumer experience and brand awareness.

As Pringle eloquently puts it, “… the metaverse is a place where creativity and curiosity can flourish like never before.”1

Above all, the key is to lead with creativity. In the metaverse, because marketing expectations have not yet been set, there are virtually zero limits. Nick Pringle, R/GA London’s SVO Executive Creative Director, invites brands to consider “virtual first” products and services.1

How might the next generation discover and perceive your brand virtually, and what positive values can be transferred to the offline sphere? From D2A (direct to avatar) goods like Nike’s virtual Jordans, to an energy drink brand supplying rocket packs, anything goes.1

Nike’s D2A virtual Jordans via The Industry.Fashion

In this leap forward, brands and marketers now can create multi-channel products, incorporating several platforms with varying executions, all leading to a more organic and interactive experience.1

This is the best reason for brands to “increase [their] marketing dollar and expand [their] digital ideas to include more than one platform,” emphasises Lou, our head of strategy.

He highlights, “after all, this strengthens brand relationships with consumers, and isn’t that the goal?”


In short, the metaverse is here to stay. Brands need to get ready, get set, and ride this technological evolution. “Remember Nokia, Blackberry, and Kodak? They didn’t evolve.” Lou adds.

Need inspiration? See how Coca-cola, Nike, and even Louis Vuitton made their move.9

Get in touch to see how we can help you.

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Dec 06

5 reasons your audience is ignoring your ads

Your ad campaigns are underperforming; you’re not getting the click-throughs or conversions you’re expecting.

Ad-blindness might be one reason, but it’s a commonly cited frustration without a clear next step to guide improvement.  Here, we’ve compiled 5 other not-so-obvious reasons why your target audience could be ignoring your ads.

1. You’re not personalising enough (or at all)

If your content isn’t resonating with your consumer, you risk losing them. Your messaging, key visuals, call-to-action, language, and so on, each need to be tailored to your consumers’ needs and demands.

Statistics1 show:

  • 66% of consumers expect brands to understand their individual needs
  • 42% of customers are frustrated by impersonalised content
  • 72% of customers will only engage with personalised messaging

In short, deeply understanding your consumer and personalising the ad experience is key to standing out in a cluttered ad space.

2. You’re not aligning your ads to the channel

Consumers have varying expectations depending on the platform and are primed to respond differently.

A user would engage with videos differently on TikTok compared to YouTube. Likewise, someone on Google search is going to seek information and an experience that is different compared to Facebook.

To better align ads to the channel:

  • Fit your visual storytelling to the platform for the best possible user experience. 
    Eg. Someone who is willing to sit through a 2 minute ad on YouTube will not do the same on Instagram.
  • Adapt your elements to the platform.
    A call-to-action on Instagram Stories should take advantage of native features while a CTA on Twitter should be optimised for skimming.
  • Adjust sizing to the platform.
    Instagram’s users respond best to images in portrait mode because they tend to scroll vertically when on mobile.

These platforms  have done the necessary research to hook their audience and keep them interested. Don’t reinvent the wheel, take advantage of it.

3. You’re not on the channels your audience is on

Sound obvious? It’s less so in practice. By assuming your audience is not on a platform, you’re missing out on a group of potential customers.

In fact, your ad could be exactly what they need; there is simply no way to be certain of it without testing it out on that specific platform and gathering information from their responses.

4. You’re not making use of creative & copywriting

Copywriting is essential. Without it, customer data can’t be translated into emotionally-triggering language and you’ll find your consumer captured by a different ad.

But how do you know it’s the right copy? You test it with multiple ad variations. By changing specific elements of your ads — your visuals, design, and copywriting — you get to find out just what makes your customer tick.

5. You’re fusing branding with lead generation ads

One ad does not fit all. Lead generation and branding campaigns fundamentally do different things. Even if they’re targeting the same audience. While the former is about selling products or services, the latter is all about creating lasting impressions and retaining mindshare.2

Rather than aim to have one ad do everything, it is ideal to segment them according to your audience. A fresh potential customer needs to know why they should buy from you, versus a ready-to-buy consumer who you could tempt with promotions or discount codes.

By recognising what consumers are seeking at their stage of the buying journey, you’re better able to personalise their experience.


Paid ads come in all shapes and sizes. The key to making your ads really work is to understand your consumer, tailor your ad assets to their needs, and finally test it out. By leveraging personalisation tools to help you test your ads, you’ll gain better insights and be able to optimise your campaign for improved performance.

Get in touch to personalise your next ad campaign.

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Nov 22

Beauty whitepaper:
Marketing beauty in the new normal

Is your beauty marketing strategy ready for 2022?

The industry went through massive upheaval and e-commerce adoption accelerated. From digitised lifestyles to changed purchasing habits, beauty consumers have evolved and marketers need to meet them where they are.

In our latest whitepaper “Marketing Beauty in the New Normal”, we cover what has changed and breakdown digital innovations that aid consumer engagement. Don’t miss out on:

  • How COVID-19 impacted consumers’ perceptions of beauty products
  • How digital adoption changed consumer purchasing habits
  • The must-have digital strategies to engage and build brand loyalty
  • How brands can integrate new innovations into their marketing strategies
  • Case study: An integrated digital campaign for KOSÉ’s skincare launch

Download the whitepaper now.

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Nov 12

Interactive marketing to boost consumer engagement, conversion, and ROI

Attention scarcity is at an all-time high. If you have just 7 seconds, how do you capture your consumer? How do you ensure they go from hooked to purchase? The facts1 show that:

  • Users ignore over 80% of digital ads.
  • Fully engaged customers represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.
  • 54% of customers think companies need to transform how they engage.
  • 64% of customers expect tailored engagement that is based on past interaction.

The solution to this lies in a combination of hyper-personalised messaging and engaging, digital features. In other words, interactive marketing.

What is interactive marketing?

Interactive marketing is about catching consumers’ attention and triggering a direct response from them through innovative means.

It is a method that takes into account a target audience’s preferences2 and engages them through interactive features that range from simple Instagram polls to complex, immersive video.

How do interactive features drive marketing campaigns?

Image via our campaign for Nutox

Interactive features are adept at garnering consumer interest and engagement.

Why? For these simple reasons:

1. Interactivity makes users feel involved

Interactive features help consumers see themselves in the brand’s experience.3 Whether it is time spent joining a brand’s product development process, or effort used to play a gamified campaign for a discount, these investments give users some skin in the game.

2. Interactive features support the Awareness stage within the marketing funnel

During the Awareness stage, these features differentiate a brand from its competitors and delivers impact during that critical first impression. This first discovery experience leads a customer to further engagement down the road.4

In fact, 75% of marketers agree that offering customers a “sample” of the brand through free, interactive content resulted in a higher degree of lead nurturing.4

3. Interactive content streamlines the purchasing process

Demand Gen Report5 found that interactive content led to 2X more conversions than passive content. This is likely through showcasing the product in an engaging manner and by providing social proof to ease the fear of buyer’s remorse.

Used this way, interactive features become a tool that reduce friction at buyer touchpoints and supports conversion.

Interactive marketing examples

There are numerous types of interactive features marketers and brands can incorporate into their strategy. These features are flexible enough to suit a short-term campaign or become a mainstay of their content marketing strategy. Below is a non-exhaustive list of features brands can incorporate into their marketing.

Simple interactive features

Image via piktochart

1. Animation

Animation in marketing ranges from website features to short videos. It can convey simple messages or break down a complex concept in a visually appealing way.6

2. Infographics

Dynamic infographics take educative content to the next level. Layering an element of engagement with informational content combines expertise with memorability. Users are more likely to remember the brand associated with impactful, valuable content.

Advanced interactive features

Image via Braze

1. Gamified elements

Gamification is a well-known interactive marketing tool that engages users. It is easy to customise to a brand’s needs, be it simple or complex. Popular features range from calculator-like tools to trivia and lottery-style games. AR too is another form of interaction and it’s extremely flexible, used in custom IG and Facebook filters to full-fledged games like PokemonGo.

Though gamification requires some time and effort, it yields great results both for product exposure and increasing user engagement.

Adact7, a gamification company trusted by leading global brands, shows gamification offers:

  • A 16% bounce rate compared to the industry average — between 25.2% and 62.8%
  • Engagement time ranges from 9 minutes to 60 minutes
  • A completion rate of 98%

2. Video

Personalised, otherwise known as dynamic video, turns “just” a video into a piece of content users resonate with. It makes the audience feel like the video is speaking to them and addressing their needs.8

Interactive video

Interactive video is where participants navigate a video through the choices they make. This could be the short surveys YouTube shares before a video loads, toggling left and right within a video, or entering a storyline and making choices like a character.

Compared to other types of video content, 43% of consumers prefer interactive video content because they’re able to decide what information they’re in control of and what they’re viewing.9

Immersive video

Immersive video, otherwise known as 360° Video, records video in all directions at the same time.

These sorts of videos are memorable and impactful. They’re great for creating an ultra-immersive user experience while also allowing the user to frame themselves within the video environment.

Case studies

Here are two examples of how interactive marketing supports different stages of the marketing funnel and can be tailored to a campaign.

1. Shiseido X Watsons: #MyJapaneseBeauty Asia Campaign

Image via our campaign for Shiseido

Shiseido sought to pivot online in the middle of a pandemic to spotlight their brands and products.

To digitally recreate the sensorial experience consumers get at physical events, we designed an interactive microsite to meet Shiseido’s multiple markets and corresponding languages.

Interactive features included:

  • Parallax animation and asymmetrical layouts that pushed the boundaries of traditional web design.
  • Engaging website navigation that led consumers to discover the 6 pillars of Japanese Beauty philosophy and the persona of Shiseido’s brands.
  • Integrated gamification elements that highlighted each brand’s USP, product, and essence.

This direction, supported by our digital strategy, strengthened top of mind awareness for Shiseido and its sub-brands. Results-wise, we gained 25K+ unique page views and drove 18k traffic to Shiseido’s e-commerce partner, Watsons.

2. KSK: YOO8 serviced by Kempinski Interactive Campaign

Image via our campaign for KSK Land

KSK Land sought to promote their upcoming YOO8 branded residences under 8 Conlay.

Due to MCO (Malaysia’s national quarantine measures) constraints upon physical sales galleries, we offered an alternative method to engage with consumers: an interactive digital experience that showed customers “the art of living” with Kempinski at YOO8.

This digital alternative:

  • Took the consumer through YOO8’s hospitality in first-person perspective within a mini movie. As the main character, consumers could make choices to navigate the storyline.
  • Personalised the consumer experience. We offered viewers 6 possible endings to uncover, thus increasing playability and encouraging further discovery.
  • Hosted the mini-movie on a mobile-first microsite with interactive elements to improve user experience.

This campaign was the first of its kind among Malaysian property companies. The campaign raked in 2.8 million social media impressions and close to 28K site visitors.


Staying top of mind is crucial and a strategic interactive campaign could be the tipping point that captures the consumer’s attention amidst the noisy ad landscape.

Interactive marketing has near-endless possibilities and is proven to work. Its highly personalised messaging and impactful, engaging features are the antidote to ad fatigue today.

Want to include interactive marketing in your next campaign? Talk to us today!

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Jul 28

How relevant is Twitter to Beauty?

Beauty brands and eye-catching visuals are always seen together, but that doesn’t discount Twitter’s relevance. Is it counterintuitive to seek engagement on Twitter?

Twitter’s 2020 stats1 for beauty show:

  • 37.6 million Tweets referred to makeup
  • 8.1 million Tweets talked about hair
  • 6.4 million Tweets discussed skincare
  • 1.8 million Tweets involved nails

In short, users are already active on #BeautyTwitter. In fact, Sprinklr and Twitter partnered up to develop The beauty in Twitter2, a report where Sprinklr analysed a whopping 7 million global Tweets. A few patterns emerged:

  • #BeautyTwitter is for everyone. 94% of the beauty community consisted of everyday fans and nano to micro-influencers. The open nature of this space means anyone could reach influencers or brands.
  • #BeautyTwitter is real. The pandemic might not have seen reduced purchases, but user behaviour shifted. A 23% uptick in conversations on embracing one’s natural looks indicates users increasingly sought authenticity rather than perfection.
  • #BeautyTwitter is diverse and inclusive. Patterns showed influencers leaned towards brands that reflected them and their ideals.

These insights show that #BeautyInfluencers and everyday #BeautyFans prefer unpolished dialogue. Key takeaways to leverage Twitter’s casual approach to conversation include2:

  • Relatable content that sparks engagement
  • Staying culturally relevant with the brand’s fanbase
  • Using open-ended questions for feedback
  • Building on-going relationships with Creators involved in cultural movements

For brands looking to build traction, we’ve rounded up a (non-exhaustive) list of further tactics you could use to complement the above.

  • Educational-first content.3
    Twitter drove 50% of skincare start-up Topicals’ sales. Their success comes from going deep on discourse and engaging their consumers with educational, skin-related content.
  • Add to the conversation and don’t be afraid to engage one-on-one.2
    LA makeup brand Colourpop took the playful approach to Twitter, engaging one-on-one and personalising the individual user experience. Their audience-first approach made them the most engaged with brand on Twitter in October 2020.
  • Photos garner 5x more audience engagement on #BeautyTwitter.1
    Due to Twitter’s word-first platform, photos are few and far between. Take advantage of this and supplement great copy with eye-catching visuals.
  • Skip ultra-curated content.
    Though photos attract more engagement, the ideal visual doesn’t overpower consistent, relatable content. Don’t miss out on engaging with your audience for the sake of perfection.
  • Include strategic hashtags.4
    Use hashtags to supplement brand and product recognition, events, campaigns, and trending topics to boost potential virality.
  • Strong copy & brand voice.
    When your writing is in the spotlight, a brand voice that clearly differentiates you complements your engagement efforts.

Bonus: Try repurposing Tweets across social platforms. The injection of casual, witty content onto curated platforms sparks interest and humour. You attract attention and you get more content, win-win.

Twitter is more relevant than ever. By listening and catering to their #BeautyTwitter audiences, brands can establish a memorable presence and build lasting relationships with their consumers. It’s a social strategy worth testing whether as a newbie or a pro.

Looking to up your social media presence? Get in touch with us.


  • 1 Sprinklr: New Twitter Sprinklr Research Shows How Beauty Brands are Building Community
  • 2 Twitter Marketing: The Beauty in Twitter
  • 3 Modern Retail: Why Skin-care Startup Topicals Uses Twitter as a Growth Engine
  • 4 Zoomph: Why the Top Cosmetics Brands are still on Twitter

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Jul 12

The battle between targeted advertising & data privacy

Of late, the tech industry has been at odds over how much data can be collected to enable targeted advertising.

Apple had announced last year that it wanted to introduce the App Tracking Transparency feature in its latest iOS 14.5 update, which was eventually released this April. This feature allows users to decide how apps and websites collect their data.

“Your information is for sale and you have become a product,” said Apple in a promotional video. It made the point that companies have been collecting users’ data and selling it to third parties, who then target users with personalised advertisements or attempt to shape their behaviour.

Naturally, not all the other big tech companies agreed with Apple. Facebook, for one, argued that personalised advertising allows users to see content they care about. It also enables small businesses with small budgets to effectively connect with customers and grow. There are steps one can take to limit data sharing on its platform.

Interestingly, these tech giants are not the only ones that have announced their stance on data collection. In March, Google said it planned to ban third-party cookies on Google Chrome by 2022, a deadline delayed to 2023 recently. This means advertising companies that rely on cookies to track user behaviour across the web cannot do so any more.

In place of third-party cookies, Google has proposed the use of the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) technology. FLoC will track users’ browsing habits across the internet, put them into cohorts based on those habits, and then allow advertisers to target their ads to the cohorts instead of individual users.

While all these may seem irrelevant to many of us, we should be aware of how the changes will affect us.

It is unsettling to immediately see an ad on Facebook, for instance, about the skincare product you were just talking to your friend about. It can also be difficult to know who has received your data and what they are using it for.

Reuben Ch’ng, head of marketing at LEAD, a tech training institute, finds himself on the side of companies that want to protect user privacy. But he is not doing this without acknowledging their motivations.

“Apple is doing it to appear as a first-market mover, and it ties in well with its products. One of its strongest selling points is that it has privacy-enabled devices. Google has a monopoly, so it doesn’t really need third-party cookies. It already has a lot of first-party data. As for Facebook, it wants to track behaviours beyond its own platform,” says Ch’ng, who teaches digital marketing.

“The whole idea is that if I searched for laptop bags on Google, when I go to Facebook, I will see ads from 10 different advertisers selling laptop bags.”

To a certain extent, Facebook is right that targeted advertising may not be as effective if it does not have the relevant data, says Steven Yap, head of digital and operations at Kingdom Digital, a digital advertising agency.

Businesses with a good understanding of their target audience can craft more effective marketing messages. Consumers, on the other hand, will reap the benefit of seeing only relevant content.

“Personalised experiences have been proven to boost both customer loyalty and also distinguish oneself from competitors. Hence, brands cannot afford to not be personalised in today’s day and age,” says Yap.

But although big companies can leverage their first-party data, small businesses may not have the resources to build their own database. “Many still struggle with fragmentation of data, which will affect the effectiveness of their campaigns as they are unable to capture the right audience pool,” Yap notes.

Who said targeted advertising has to be done this way?

It is really all about how it is done. If companies communicate better with their users and get their consent for the collecting and sharing of data, it could be better all around, say the interviewees.

“Consumers should be given the choice of enabling or disabling the ad tracking on their own terms. However, the current situation makes it very difficult for them to make that choice, as the process is too complicated and sometimes lack transparency,” Yap points out.

He suggests that tech companies make the terms and conditions of data privacy statements easier to understand through educational videos, for instance.

Data collection can also be done without being too intrusive. “It can be based on affinity or interest. You have to first ask for permission from users. People are fine with sharing their data sometimes. What they are not fine with is being shocked by what they see advertised,” says Ch’ng.

Yap has a similar view. Instead of tracking users’ behaviours across apps and websites, tech companies can provide personalised ads based on historical lookalike audiences with similar interests or purchase behaviours.

“Look at Agoda or Airbnb and the way they have successfully leveraged customers’ past booking history to provide personalised offers,” he says.

On the other hand, targeted advertising as it is currently done may not be the only way to do it. Ch’ng, for one, does not think that is the best method of advertising.

“For instance, the reason you buy a pair of Nike shoes or an Apple computer is due to their branding, built over many years. You buy into the story of what they have to sell,” says Ch’ng.

Undeniably, trying to sell a brand to consumers still requires some form of targeted advertising so you are not selling running shoes to the wrong audience. But “instead of targeting ads all the time, businesses should build communities around their products. Like a running club for Nike”, Ch’ng says.

Meanwhile, Kingdom Digital relies on consumer insights from audience research platforms like the Global Web Index to understand consumer behaviour. “These are captured from online surveys based on anonymous consumer groups, which allow us to understand their behaviour without capturing personal data,” says Yap.

Another idea that has come up is to reward users who share their data. Yap is intrigued by this. The Gener8 browser, which allows users to limit companies in tracking their data and earn rewards when they share their data with Gener8, is an example.

Mritunjay Kumar, co-founder of ­marketing technology platform InsightzClub, is implementing this business model in Malaysia. His platform gives financial rewards to users who download the app and allow it to collect data. According to him, this data is anonymised, then analysed on an aggregate level, and the insight is sold to companies.

“We have a real-time dashboard in our app where users can see what data is being shared and how it’s being used. We are trying to bring efficiency to marketers so they have more information and can provide you with better services. For consumers, we’re empowering them to control their own data,” says Mritunjay (see “Insightz Club: Let users monetise their data”).

Of course, before using such services, users have to read the terms and conditions carefully to understand how these third-party platforms are using and sharing their data. They should ensure it is not intrusive or illegal, otherwise they are just giving away their data to another party.


Insightz Club: Let users monetise their data

Mritunjay Kumar, co-founder of marketing technology platform Insightz Club, launched the platform four years ago. He says it now has more than 22,000 users in Malaysia and works with over 40 brands, including Maxis Bhd, CIMB Bank Bhd and L’Oreal.

When users download the platform’s app, they are asked to allow access to individual apps for data collection. If the user allows access to YouTube, for instance, InsightzClub will collect data about how much content the user watched in the last month and how many ads they saw.

Mritunjay says Insightz Club does have some boundaries. For instance, it does not access the users’ contacts or read encrypted messages. At most, it will know how much time the user spends on a messaging app.

“We are a consumer insights company. We collect the data, do our own analysis and work with brands. We always analyse data at an aggregated level,” he says.

Depending on how much data the user shares, they could earn RM15 to RM20 a month, adds Mritunjay. “We make sure the data is not misused by having multi-layer data protection, validation and encryption.”


Deficiencies in privacy laws

Around the world, laws and regulations on data privacy have been passed to protect user privacy, with the European nations taking stricter actions against tech giants.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) presents a baseline set of standards for companies that handle the data of EU citizens. In Malaysia, similar protection is offered by the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2010.

Under both regulations, businesses are able to collect, record, store and process consumers’ personal data. Consent has to be provided by the consumers and the processing of personal data cannot be excessive, says Ian Liew, associate at Donovan and Ho.

Basically, users do have certain rights to limit the use of personal data for advertising purposes. The problem is how specifically the regulations address the latest technology developments involving data collection.

“The PDPA does not address targeted advertising directly, but it grants the right to users to object to the processing of their personal data for the purposes of direct marketing, which means the sending of advertising material directed at particular individuals,” says Liew.

The GDPR, meanwhile, addresses this directly. Users have a right to not be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, which is free from human influence, and profiling, which categorises people based on predictions of their behaviours and interests. Targeted advertising falls under profiling.

Consent is also not clearly defined by the PDPA, Liew observes. But the GDPR defines consent as “being freely given, specific, informed, unambiguous and given by a clear affirmative action”.

Comparing the two, it could be possible for Malaysian businesses to presume that consent is given by consumers unless they actively withdraw consent (opt out), says Liew. “This would not be legal under the GDPR, which requires consumers to take positive action to provide consent, either by signing a form or clicking ‘I consent’ or ‘I agree’.”

Apart from consent, data management is another issue that consumers must be aware of, says Norhisham Abd Bahrin, partner at Azmi & Associates.

“The trouble with targeted advertising is that it is fraught with intrusive data practices. Personalisation requires disclosure of personal data, including preferences, purchase habits, browsing history and demographics,” says Norhisham.

“More often than not, this data is then subject to further analysis, including via machine learning using algorithms, which is at the disposal of the advertisers. On top of that, this data is usually stored, managed and utilised outside of the knowledge and control of users.”

A clear breach occurs when consent is not effectively given by users. However, “it’s difficult to establish privacy breach when our PDPA doesn’t define any minimum standard for consent, doesn’t regulate online privacy and has no provision on e-marketing, cookies or newer tracking and surveillance technology, including geotagging. It is not even applicable to personal data processed outside Malaysia”, says Norhisham.

“So, until our laws on data privacy are brought up to date to deal with the complexities of online digital technology, it’s quite a challenge to define a breach from the regulatory perspective since advertisers can easily find loopholes in the current data protection and management regime for digital platforms.”

How the laws should be updated 

Provisions should be inserted in the PDPA to specifically address the obligations of businesses that conduct targeted advertising, Liew says. Consumers should also be aware of what they are signing up for and make informed decisions regarding their data. “At the minimum, the choices that consumers should get need to be consistent with the rights of consumers and data subjects. This would include the right to withdraw their consent to the processing of their personal data,” says Liew.

On the bright side, the Personal Data Protection Commissioner is considering issuing a data protection guideline that covers digital marketing. Norhisham believes Malaysia can learn from the GDPR.

“The EU’s logic in attempting to regulate targeted advertising more strictly in favour of less intrusive, contextualised forms of advertising that require less user data can certainly be appreciated in this part of the world. The legal framework to regulate these issues must also be practical enough for businesses to comply with,” he says.

Some areas that can be tightened include introducing data breach notification requirements with penalty enforcement for data users, observes Norhisham.

Additionally, the PDPA should be complemented with new privacy provisions on cookies and tracking technologies in simple and user-friendly language. Data transferability abroad and the extraterritorial reach of the PDPA should also be considered, he adds.

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Apr 13

Last-minute ideas that brands can execute this Raya

Hari Raya is one of the many occasions that gives brands a chance to create a big and lasting impact on its audience. Whether it’s through a short film or holding a contest, brands need to find a way to communicate their Raya message effectively. But what would make your brand’s campaign stand out and be remembered?

With Raya quickly coming up in a month’s time, whether your brand is lagging behind or baffled for fresh ideas, fret not, here are some last-minute ideas that your brand can execute this Raya.

Branded Instagram Augmented Reality (AR) filter

  • IG filters are used on the daily and their uses can range from altering one’s facial features to an entertaining interactive game.
  • At the start of 2020, AR engagements saw a 20% increase along with 90% conversion rates from users who utilised AR filters.1
  • Users spend 4x more time engaging with AR filters, which is an average of 75 seconds in comparison to video content.2
  • By creating an interactive IG AR filter as part of your brand’s Raya campaign, users are able to post their images/videos/results on their IG Story and this will amplify reach by enticing other users to partake in using the filter as well as check out your brand’s IG account.
  • Need some inspiration? Check out the IG AR filter that we created as part of our agency initiative for Chinese New Year, where users can discover their 2021 fortune.

Instagram Story personality quiz

  • IG stories are a quick way to engage with your target market. With a ton of prompts and stickers, it’s no doubt that users will partake in the activities as it is short and simple.
  • A study from Meltwater showed that 86.6% of Instagram users use stories, while almost 80% of brands noticed a large effect on their influencer content from Instagram stories.3
  • A simple way of getting the audience to engage in IG Stories this festive season is by creating a Raya-themed personality quiz. This encourages users to stay till the end of your Instagram Story queue to find out their “personality”. Topics can include, “Which kuih Raya are you?” or “What Hari Raya song you should play while balik kampung?”.

Live sessions with influencers/KOLs

  • Live sessions are a great way to interact with your audience as they are able to comment and give likes in real time. Contests, giveaways, and promotions are some of the activities held during live streams to encourage engagement.
  • According to Facebook, the number of livestream viewers had a significant increase of 50% from February to March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.4
  • To complement these live sessions, influencers can play a huge role in targeting a specific audience as these individuals are able to impact the decisions of their followers, making them an ideal choice as hosts.
  • A study done by Twitter and Annalect showed that 49% of users depend on advice from influencers while 40% of users said to have purchased products that influencers have used on Instagram and several other social media platforms.5
  • For some inspiration of a successful live campaign, take a look at this Facebook live campaign that we created for Haier last Raya.

User generated content – Complemented by the usage of specific hashtags

  • User generated content is a cost-efficient way to let the public spread the word about your campaign for you.
  • Like word-of-mouth marketing, users are able to post their own content that relates to your campaign, thus this creates buzz among the public.
  • A survey carried out by Stackla found that 79% of people claimed that UGC plays a huge role in influencing their purchases.6
  • In 2020, UGC created a sense of community among social media users, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, where people are stuck at home by themselves.7
  • Carrying forward into 2021, UGC centric campaigns will be an effective method of getting your target market to interact and connect with your brand.
  • Creating different hashtags, that closely relates to your brand’s purpose, to signify different groups is a way of getting users to post their own content. Search up “#TeamHijau” or “#TeamBiru” on Instagram for real-life interactive content ideas.

Source: Instagram

Personalised content/videos 

  • People crave personalised content because when it is catered to them specifically, they hold a connection to it because it shows that your company cares. This, in turn, increases customer loyalty to the brand.
  • SmarterHQ found that 72% of consumers prefer to only interact with messages that are personalised.8
  • In addition, 66% of consumers stated that they lose interest in purchasing when the brand does not personalise their content.8
  • While personalisation may seem like a daunting task with it requiring a sizeable cost and a lot of resources, it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at how we executed personalised thank you ‘cards’ for each of our Heroes and brands that we’ve worked with, where we produced 340 custom videos within a week by utilising our Digital Creative Automation delivery system.

Don’t know which direction your brand should head for this Raya? Drop us a message today.

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