By Sharina Ahmad
ADEASY Sdn Bhd, an online marketplace for offline advertising, plans to expand its reach beyond Malaysia by penetrating the Singapore and Thailand markets by the third quarter of 2020.
Its CEO Melissa Sim says the reason for entering these two markets is the huge interest from its potential media partners there. She adds that demand for offline advertising such as billboards is still there regardless of changing times.
“We have a strong network of contacts in Singapore and Thailand as the appetite for offline advertising is still high,” she tells FocusM.
The company also intends to venture into other markets in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam and the Philippines in the next couple of years.
“We will make thorough feasibility studies and if they show positive outcomes, we might consider leveraging our platform there. We believe that the offline advertising landscape will always be relevant as it evolves with time and technology,” she said.
Sim, who has 12 years of experience in the ad and media industries, says the offline ad sector began from the good old times of putting up posters, to evolve into billboards, and now digital billboards.
“And contrary to common misconception, there is no one or the other between offline and online advertising.
“It’s about understanding the functions of each, and deciding which would work best to achieve the objectives of the company. A good marketer would know how to strike a balance between the two, to be present in as many touch points as possible while working within the company’s marketing budget,” she says.
Sim notes that the demand for offline advertising will be on par with online. This is because when the market becomes more sophisticated, businesses will know the value of both online and offline advertising, and will be seamlessly integrating them in their campaigns for optimal results.
As an online marketplace for offline advertising, AdEasy is a one-stop-platform for advertisers to browse online and book offline advertising spaces such as radio, cinema, billboard, magazine, newspaper, television and car.
To always be a step ahead in balancing user needs, industry practices and technological trends are compulsory to stay relevant, says chief operating officer Therine Goh.
“We maintain good conversations with our users and media partners and are always keeping abreast with the latest tech news to ensure that we keep evolving our platform to better serve our stakeholders,” she says.
User experience plays an important role in building a successful customer base, she points out.
“Our users mainly get to know about us by word-of-mouth and online search. Our team is trained to care deeply about our users’ success from the first interaction, be it online through our platform or offline when we interact with them on a personal level.
“We think through each step, from enquiries and bookings to post-campaign and issues and try to minimise the friction as much as we can,” says Goh, who had earlier moved from a multinational corporation (MNC) to a local company.
AdEasy was founded based on Goh’s personal pain points when buying ad space on traditional media.
Based on data AdEasy gathered last year, the demand for traditional media, especially radio, out-of-home (OOH) and cinema ads is still high. In fact, AdEasy’s 2018 revenue was made up mainly of radio 56%, OOH 21% and cinema 15%.
This seems to reflect a 2018 Malaysia advertising expenditure (adex) report by GroupM Worldwide Inc, one of the world’s largest media investment companies.
The report shows that of the RM4.48 bil spent on ads, 72% was on traditional media.
Strategies and tactics
As a one-stop solution for businesses of all sizes and budget ranges, the process of buying ads through AdEasy is easy and accessible to book the desired traditional ad space.
The online marketplace features over 90 media profiles across all offline media types and over 800 ad spaces.
Customers need to key in their budget, target audience, location and types of media that they are interested in, and the website will then recommend the most relevant spaces based on those criteria.
According to Sim, the company has deployed a mix of online and offline tactics to market its business and the result has been successful.
“For online, we use search engine optimisation (SEO) and search campaigns. However, for offline, we use public relations (PR) and offline advertising such as billboards.
“We can’t say which is more successful than the other as we have different objectives for each. For lead generation, SEO works well for us as we get most of our users organically. For overall brand awareness, PR and billboards did deliver the results as we have more and more people being aware of the brand, and engaging with us,” says Sim.
Recently, the company raised over RM850,000 from private investors, bringing the total investment amount to over RM1.8 mil.
The previous funding rounds included a successful crowdfunding campaign through Pitch Platforms Sdn Bhd, which runs the pitchIN equity crowdfunding platform, and a seed funding round from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd.
The investment will be used to expand its technology on campaign planning and analytics, as well as to improve the user experience.
“There is still a gap when it comes to campaign measurement and analytics for offline advertising. We acknowledge this, and we’re investing a portion of our funds to address it.
“We’re currently in the R&D stage, working on a feasible solution by harnessing technologies such as big data. We’re also investing in improving our user experience (UX) and making our platform more intelligent. We hope to make it not only easy but also effective for businesses to buy offline media, and to be able to track the effectiveness of their offline campaigns,” says Sim. - Jan 13, 2020
How AdEasy’s offline advertising journey began
AdEasy Sdn Bhd began its journey at the end of 2013 when CEO Melissa Sim and chief operating officer Therine Goh found how manual and tedious offline advertising still was.
They were aware that there was no easy way to compare and book offline advertising space directly from media owners. The process to get information and rates, as well as space availability, could take weeks.
At that time, digital advertising had plenty of automated, tech-driven solutions. They decided it was time for offline advertising to have a digital solution as well. That was when AdEasy was conceptualised.
“Both of us come from enterprising families, so we’re exposed to entrepreneurship at a young age. We learnt that grit, resilience and being adaptable are important. What drives us to keep pushing forward each and every day is our purpose for AdEasy – being able to solve a real (validated) problem in the offline advertising industry.
“We aim to build a one-stop solution that is effective and transparent for businesses of all sizes and budgets to easily find and book the right offline ad space with just a few clicks,” says Sim.
Like other online marketplaces, AdEasy charges a commission for every booking made on its platform to the media partners.