All You Need to Know About Advertising in Singapore

advertising and advertisement strategies in singapore

Over the past few years, Asia has experienced a spectacular amount of growth in its economy. In fact, since the 1960s, this continent has been able to grow its wealth faster than any other region around the world. And this is largely due to its labour and capital– specifically in the eastern countries. However, there is none more attention-grabbing than Singapore. Its political stability, industrial competitiveness and transparency has helped to pave the way for its neighbouring countries’ economic prosperity.

 

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In fact, Singapore is currently the headquarters of over 3000 multinational companies. Its financial and service sectors are considered to be world class and its physical infrastructure is known to be highly efficient. This country has achieved a per capita gross domestic product level that is comparable to that of developed western nations which is why it has managed to consistently rank among the most attractive countries in which to conduct international business.

Trends

The evolution of Singapore’s economy has come with a change in the latest marketing trends. For instance, personalisation is becoming the main focus. Not only are companies interested in getting to know more about their general target audience, but they want to get to them on an individual level. Singapore companies feel the need to make sure that touch points are as specific as possible so that they are able to streamline the purchasing process as well as make it more responsive.

Companies are starting to heavily incorporate AI into their processes. This is especially the case when it comes to using chat-bots to interact with the customers and appeal more to their individual needs. Many hope that this will help to greatly improve the customer experience. Also, this type of AI will foster an environment of deep learning which will provide data crumbs from around the web and give businesses a better understanding of consumer behaviour.

Not only are companies looking to market to their customers in real-time, but they are also interested in marketing to them at the right time. Marketers are now using data in order to isolate when its the best time to reach out to the customer. In this way, they can form a more intimate and effective connection with their target audience.

Speaking of data, another popular trend is measuring and analytics. While certain social media channels, such as Facebook, have admitted that their data does not tell the entire story, companies are starting to recognise the value in measuring their performance with purpose. And for many, the KSI is customer retention, profit, satisfaction, and revenue. In fact, many executives are expected to be more than overseers, but also data scientists and marketing technologists. From devices and sensors to TVs and fitness brands, they will be expected to monitor the useful data that can be leveraged from them.

Also, content is still king, but many are starting to prefer it in the form of video. And this is because it helps to appeal to more senses. Visual marketing can go a long way.

 

Types of Advertising in Singapore

While there are many different trends in Singapore, they can be applied to multiple forms of advertising. And luckily, there are many to choose from. Let’s take a look at a few.

Digital Advertising

Perhaps one of the most popular forms of advertising is digital advertising. This is the leveraging of digital channels such as Google search, email, social media, and websites in order to connect with prospective customers. More specifically, businesses use methods like search engine optimisation to attract free traffic to their websites, content marketing to generate brand awareness and leads, inbound marketing to convert customers, and pay-per-click (many using PPC agencies) to drive paid traffic to their website. All of this and more is the fastest and easiest way to connect with millions of prospects online.

Print Advertising

Print advertisement is any advertisement that is printed on paper. It is typically split into three subcategories. One is periodical advertising in which ads are printed in magazines, newspapers or anything other publication that is released at regular intervals. The second subcategory is flyers, leaflets, brochures, and handouts in which ads are treated as separate entities. The last subcategory is direct mail advertising in which ad is mailed directly to consumers.

Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor Advertising is a form of advertising that done outdoors. The most popular include bus benches, billboards, exteriors and interiors of buses, business vehicles, taxis and signage that has been posted on the exterior of brick-and-mortar locations. These ads are usually placed in high traffic locations.

Guerrilla Advertising

Guerrilla advertising is a form of advertisement that plays on the element of surprise. The campaign is usually very unconventional and is created with the purpose of catching people’s attention unexpectedly in the middle of their daily routines. In fact, outdoor advertising is often used as a vehicle for guerrilla advertising.

Cable TV Advertising

Cable TV advertising reaches millions of viewers sitting in the comfort of their living rooms. This form of advertising typically involves the use of television and a setup box/decoder device. And until recently before the advent of Internet streaming, this has been seen as the most dominant and effective way to reach potential customers. This form of advertising can reach millions of people at once.

Mobile Advertising

This is another way to obtain the attention of a captive audience especially if you can find a list owner with well profiled subscribers. If is possible to message millions of subscribers within hours or days with your promotional message on their mobile devices in Singapore. An example of this is SingTel Media which has (at last count in 2019) 4,100,000 subscribers for its mobile advertising service.

Advertising standards, rules, regulations, laws

Though Singapore business owners and marketers have their choice of which forms of advertising they will use to promote their business, this does not mean that they have free reign on how they can use them. In fact, there are certain guidelines set in place when it comes to advertising. And these rules and regulations are considered to be best practices.

For instance, companies must make sponsored messages distinguishable from editorial content and personal opinions. And this requires their disclosing all of their commercial relationships. This is especially the case if they are endorsing certain sponsors, products, services or product names. All disclosures must be placed in prominent places so that consumers can clearly see them. Advertisers must also be transparent about the fees that they charge as well as the purchasing process.

When advertising on social media platforms, advertisers are to avoid falsely inflating their popularity. This includes purchasing tools and services that would increase their likes and comments. It’s also advised that businesses refrain from encouraging people to like, share, or use their social plugins in order to make their posts seem more popular.

Advertisers are expected to avoid promoting ads which contain pornographic, racist, sexist and violent comments. This is especially the case when it comes to advertising to children. Not only that, but marketers are forbidden to distribute the personal information of children without consent from their guardians.

Professional Governing Body

While these rules and regulations may not be seen as official laws, they are considered to be widely known best practices. In fact, there is an organisation that is responsible for ensuring that these guidelines are followed. It’s known as the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore, or ASAS.

The ASAS was established in 1973. They are responsible for promoting ethical advertising in Singapore. When advertisers have concerns or are in doubt about the acceptability of their advertisements, this organisation offers advice and guidance for advertisers prior to publication. They can help to ensure that advertisements are in full compliance with all regulations.

The ASAS also handles complaints. Their most common complaint is in regards to information that is misleading and depicts a different or even false message about the product or service. If an advertisement is deemed to have broken the rules or gone against the guidelines, ASAS may withhold advertising time or space from the business. They may withdraw their trading privileges. In some cases, ASAS may even publish the details of this investigation and name the offending company.

Which Are the More Effective Advertising Media: Newspaper? Magazines? Mailers? eDMs? TV? Radio? Outdoor? Digital?

According to a study published by Econsultancy, businesses are failing to match their adspend to where consumers are actually spending their time. They are instead basing their budgets on the historical performance of each form of advertising. In fact, when researchers examined the total adspend across digital and traditional channels, it shows that TV ads continue to dominate most company’s budget allocations–with 50-60% of executives stating that they plan to keep their TV advertising commitments the same for the upcoming year. However, many traditional media channels are experiencing a decline in investment.

So if the most effective form of advertising is one on which consumers spend most of their time, then which one is the most effective? It’s digital. Studies show that over 3.2 million Singaporeans use their mobile devices in order to access social media platforms. And almost 96% of Singapore’s internet users have at least one social media account on which they spend an average of 2.5 hours every day. Also, APAC Consumer Barometer has found that over half of the country’s internet users watch videos online every day. 42% of Singaporeans depend on the Internet when researching products and comparing different options before making a purchase decision.

It’s clear that Singapore is a digital society which is why both small and large companies are starting to shift their focus towards digital marketing. The effects of digital advertising are even further displayed in companies’ business practices. Singapore Business Review found that businesses in Singapore are starting to aggressively employ digital marketing strategies such as SEO, Facebook ads, and paid search, in order to reach a wider audience.

This is not to say that traditional advertising is completely ineffective. Trust in the more traditional advertising is still considered to be very strong. According to a Neilsen report, television, newspaper, and magazine advertisements are still among the most trusted forms of advertising for consumers who reside in Southeast Asia. 65% Singaporeans said they were trustful of television ads which is well above the global average of around 62%. And despite there being a decline in trust in newspaper and magazine advertising, 62% of Singaporeans said they trusted magazine advertising and 66% said they trusted newspaper advertising.

So which should you opt for? The answer depends on the goals of the business and its target audience. For instance, if the business is interested in an advertising format that is cost effective and appeals to millennials, then it should invest a sizeable portion of its budget into digital marketing. This is especially the case if its a small business. However, if the company’s prime objective is to drive instant brand awareness and it has an unlimited budget, then they may consider investing more of their budget into traditional marketing. Though its obvious that all can work together and that a digital marketing presence is crucial to today’s brands.  

Most Prominent Advertising Agencies in Singapore

The amount of growth that has taken place in Singapore over the last decade has lead many companies to focus more of their attention developing their digital marketing strategies. While you could hire an in-house team to take over this project, you could also work with a team that is already up and running. For example, digital marketing agencies can ensure that your campaigns run as smoothly as possible. Below are a few of the most prominent.

Happy Marketer

Happy Marketer was founded in 2009. This company specialises in SEO, social media marketing, inbound marketing, conversion optimisation, analytics and much more. It has certifications as well as partnership arrangements with several big players such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and InMobi.

WE! Interactive

WE! Interactive was founded in 2009. This company specialises in digital, social, and print. Their clients include companies such as Mountain Dew, Pepsi, and Singapore Airlines.

Foolproof

Foolproof was founded in 2002. This company specialises in Design Research, UX Strategy, Interaction Design, and Experience design. They have worked with Hyundai, Suzuki, and Elanco.

Vintedge Technologies Pte Ltd

Vintedge Technologies Pte Ltd was founded in 2001. This company specialises in Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, and more. They have worked with companies such as Cannon, Pizza Hut, and Honeywell.

Dentsu Media Singapore

Dentsu Singapore was founded in 1994. This company specialises in Creative Development, Sales Promotion, Strategic Planning and more. It has worked with companies like Cannon and has been consistently ranked in the top 10 advertising agencies in the country.

MediaOne for Digital Marketing  

MediaOne, established in 2008, is the #1 digital marketing agency in Singapore. This company has worked with over 1000 SME & MNC clients, and currently has well over 500 active clients. They are recognised by both local and international certifications as well as awards bodies such as TOPSEOs, ISO 9001 and PSME500. They specialise in SEO, search engine marketing, social media marketing and much more. It has worked with companies like Singtel, Changi Airport Singapore, and Fuji Xerox.

What sets MediaOne apart from the rest is that it’s one of the few digital marketing agencies that is built on a foundation of white hat SEO. Though these particular methods are considered to be time-consuming and resource-intensive, MediaOne genuinely wants what’s best for our client and maintains its commitment to white hat SEO strategies. In fact, they say that it’s hardwired into their DNA.

In keeping with the white hat SEO methods, the company prides itself on its transparency–only using marketing tactics that have been tried, tested and shown repeatedly effective. And clients are treated to some of the best 24/7 real-time client reporting in the industry. Easily track your SEO progress at any time. Whether you’re interested in the overall progress of your campaigns and would like to get a little constructive feedback, the client is in control.

MediaOne specialises focus much of its time on targeting human audiences and search engine algorithms. And they do all of this non-aggressively and according to Google’s strict guidelines and search engine algorithm updates. They are about providing the safest choice for companies who need robust rankings and getting your lasting results without your being banned from the search engines.

Entrepreneurs who are interested in getting an edge on the competition and growing their business must constantly work towards obtaining the top spot in the search engine results. MediaOne helps their clients get there. Not do they get organic visibility but they also get higher conversion rates, up to 500%!

Even after a decade of experience, MediaOne continues to be the trailblazer in the digital marketing industry. This company’s dedication to quality is what makes them a leading digital marketing agency in Singapore. And they are more than worth trying out!

Other Top Advertising Agencies in Singapore

Choosing the right advertising agency to work with is overwhelming. You have to vet dozens of agencies and choose only one.

Luckily for you, we did all the groundwork and compiled a top 20 listicle of the best advertising agencies in Singapore.

Here goes the list.                  

Actmedia

Actmedia’s first foray into advertising was in 1996. At the time, their main clientele were retail businesses looking for advertisement services. It’s one of the few advertising agencies in Singapore whose proficiency straddles both online and offline marketing strategies.

Six More Days

Six more days offers branding, marketing, and lead conversion services. However, its core strength lies with design. The company has had the opportunity of working with some of the most prestigious companies in Singapore and other parts of the world, including Shiseido Professional B2B, Takashimaya, and Kose’ Unmask.

2Stallions

2Stallion is known for building professional websites that generate results. In their portfolio are more than 150 websites that they built for a range of clients, including CNN, NTUC, and UBS. In 2012, they managed to win the SMEs Asia Award as the best Digital marketing agency in Singapore.

ENCE

ENCE is an acronym for “Experience New Customer Engagement.” It’s a customer-driven marketing and advertising agency comprising of four daughter sub-companies Decadence Design, Affluence PR, Valence Digital Marketing, and Decadence Design.

Amber Creative

Amber creative offers practical online marketing services, such as Google Marketing, Website Development, Facebook Marketing, and so forth. It’s among the few online marketing agencies that have partnered with Google to offer marketing services to more businesses in Singapore.

Notion Age

Notion Age is a marketing powerhouse, with a speciality in SEO, Web Design, Email Marketing, and Online Marketing. The agency has had the opportunity of managing the advertisement needs of some well-known companies in the country, including Kiss92, Resort World Sentosa, and One Fighting Championship, among others.

Visibiliti

Visibiliti lives by their name. It’s an agency dedicated to helping brands gain more online visibility for both their brand and products. In their roster of clients are big names such as Hitachi and Kumon.

Impossible Marketing

Impossible Marketing in an integrated advertising and digital marketing agency in Singapore. It also provides free workshops and digital marketing services that you can sign up for today.

ATE Ideas

ATE was established in 2006 and has grown to be a leading consulting and advertising firm in Singapore. The company offers a mixed bag of digital marketing and advertisement solutions to a global clientele. It goes without mentioning that they have facilitated the marketing needs of so many global brands, including Louis Vuitton and American Express.

The VML Qais

The VML Qais is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing agency in Singapore. The agency was started in 2003 and has grown to be one of the most recognised online advertising firms in the country. The company offers a wide range of digital marketing services and has bagged some of the most prestigious awards in the country, including Effie Singapore and Digital Media Awards.

VMSD

VMSD was started 20 years ago, and is widely acclaimed for being prolific in delivering marketing campaigns that hit the mark. Their expertise is in providing noticeable retail experience improvements, sales territory design, and humorous advertising campaigns.

Possible Advertising Agency (PAA)

PAA is an internationally known, high-profile digital marketing agency that has had the opportunity of working with some of the world’s giant brands, including Coca-Cola and Microsoft. The company’s main focus is to create multidimensional advertising strategies that generate more clients and create buzz around your brand.

The Crescent Technologies

Many of the digital marketing agencies on the list have their priorities set on advertising strategies that deliver noticeable results. However, The Crescent Technologies Agencies takes an entirely different approach by largely focusing on research and surveying. It’s through research data and marketing information that they’re able to conceive effective marketing strategies that inch you closer to your marketing goals with little or no strain on their part.

AdWeb 360

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AdWeb is a customer-oriented advertising agency that strives to work closely with your target customers in creating a genuine marketing campaign that sets your business on the right path to success. The company doesn’t just employ people. It takes them through thorough training that ensures they’re able to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction.

Aiden Creative Agency

Aiden Creative is a well-established online marketing agency that also tries to integrate outdated advertising techniques such as SMM and email marketing into their marketing campaigns.

And it works.

The company has also had the privilege of working with different globally-recognised brands, including Toshiba, Triumph, and EBC.

The Current State of Advertising in Singapore

The media industry is growing at 3.5%, at least, annually — and if the trend continues, then the annual turnover is expected to rise to about $7 billion by 2022.

The online advertising market, on the other hand, is growing even faster, at 8.4% annually. That means the market turnover would have hit $450 million come 2022. 48% of this market share is controlled by the online marketing agencies capitalising on mobile advertising.

Digital Advertising

Marketers’ interest in online advertising has been growing at a nippy speed for the past few years. In 2017, companies spent more than $300 million on online advertising, growing by about 14% the following year – and exponentially so in 2019.

The number of active internet users has also been growing at an alarming rate – and now, more than 780 people out of 1000 use the internet regularly.

Newspaper and Magazines

Online advertising might be growing fast, but newspapers and magazines are still as fashionable as they’ve ever been. They’re still exhibiting growth, but at a slower rate compared to online advertising.

Still, magazines stand as a reliable source of information or content delivery in the country. You, therefore, can’t afford to ignore it.

Radio and TV Ads

Traditional advertising isn’t dying, as many people love to assume. Of course, they’re deteriorating, but don’t expect them to fade out of existence.

At the time of writing this, the cost of placing a 30-seconds advert on radio averages $330.

Their market share is almost growing, albeit slowly. For instance, the growth rate of TV ads was estimated to be 0.5% in 2019.

Digital Streaming

The highest growth rate was experienced in digital streaming, with its turnover growing by a staggering 85% between 2013 and 2017.

In 2017, the digital streaming market share was estimated to rest at $20 million.

The same case with VOD platforms, also growing at turbo-charged speed.

Video streaming is becoming a popular trend, particularly among e-sports lovers and online gamers.

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Online Advertising

Online marketing is growing at hypersonic speed in Singapore. Stats are very telling. Besides painting the current state of online marketing, they’re also showing the direction of trends.

And from the recent turn of events and the impressive rate at which online marketing is growing, it’s safe to say online marketing is rife with advertising opportunities.

Online Advertising

In a recent study conducted by PWC, online advertising accounts for 14% of all advertising money in Singapore.

The Share of Online Advertising

Well, that’s nothing compared to Japan and China (25.9% and 53.6%, respectively). It’s to be, however, noted that this number was significantly lower in the two countries a few years back.

And if this trend is anything to go by, then we expect online advertising to account for an even bigger share of advertising money soon.

Social Post

Only 22% of social media users in Singapore admit to ignoring social posts from brands. While that’s not the lowest number in the world, it’s a clear indication that advertisers should be more cautious while crafting their social media posts.

They should learn to create engaging designs and adopt storytelling in the posts they make. The point is to create posts that establish an emotional connection with their target audience.

Advertisers that are big on using a mix of online advertising strategies in Singapore were found to be generally better and more competitive. 

Online Usage Stats

Digital Influence Lab found that more than 42% of Singaporeans use the internet to find out more about a product, while 26% actually do their shopping online.

Sadly, the number of people who use the internet for research or do their shopping online is on a sharp decline.

That means advertisers should focus more on connecting with their target audience. They should start running more engaging campaigns, whether it’s SMM, SEO, or PPC if they’re looking to attract more customers in 2020.

Offline Advertising Vs. Online Advertising

How do you justify the allocation of funds to marketing? What criteria should you use?

And just because big companies are investing millions of dollars in advertising, that’s not to say you should blindly take a cue from them.

There are so many low-cost (or better, free) advertisement opportunities that you can take advantage of today and gain a competitive edge.

Cost-Effective Online Advertising Strategies

Create a Website

Having a website in the modern world of business is a necessity. In other words, you’re creating an online extension of your business, as well as a 24/7 store.

And since the internet is everywhere, that means your customers are free to check you out from anywhere – using their laptops, tablets, and cell phones.

Also, just having a website makes your business look more legitimate and professional.

Create a Free Facebook Page

Facebook doesn’t charge you to create a page. So, do the necessary by creating one. The next thing you want to do is learn to post and interact with viewers. Post questions and upload images on what you’re offering. Remember to also comment on other people’s posts, while replying to the comments made on your posts.

Lastly, you want to give your business a personality and develop a unique brand identity.

Run Targeted PPC Ads

Targeted use of PPC ads can take your business to the next level. Alternative models include Cost Per Action and Cost Per Impression. If you’re more interested in raising awareness around your brand, then CPM is the way to go.

Paid advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. Just try it out with a small budget, and you’d be surprised by how far that gets your business.

Post Your Business on Free Directories

Free business directories are a good way to get your business noticed locally on major search engines. It can be a good source of traffic and real business if done correctly.

You can start with the local community, trade affiliations, and membership sites. List your website with any open directory site you stumble across.

Remember also to open a “Google My Business page” and verify your business. Be consistent with how you post your contact details on these websites and get to improve your local ranking score.

Set up an Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing allows you to stay in constant touch with your prospects and existing customers. Send regular newsletters to your readers with helpful information that create close ties with them.

Cost-Effective Offline Advertising Strategies

Create Business Cards and hand them Out to the People you Interact with

Start with the simple stuff.

Start with a business card. A business card isn’t limited to giving contact details. It can reveal more information about you or your business.

You can even fold the card and make it carry information about your products or services.

They’re an inexpensive, almost free way of advertising your business to the people you meet while conducting your business operations.

List Your Business on Yellow Pages

Yellow pages may not be a thing now, but a decent number of potential customers still use it. You no longer have to worry about the size of your yellow page ad. All you have to do is make sure you’re listed with them, and that’s pretty much it.

Vehicle Advertising

Vehicle advertising is like a moving billboard.

Have someone design professional vinyl decals and magnetic signs. Come up with a catchy tagline and make sure the entire vehicle is wrapped in the design.

More importantly, make sure your vehicle is in good shape and rust-free. Your brand image depends on it. 

Invest in Promotional Printed Products

When customers visit your store to buy something, they should leave with a reminder.

Invest in printed giveaway items such as pens, keyholders, shirts, cups, and so on.

Giving your customers a free token gift is a good way to express gratitude to your visitors and customers, and thank them for their loyalty.

Create Press Releases

Press releases are like free publicity.

Your customers should read about your business, whether directly or indirectly.

Attend conferences and make a press release about it. Or be sure to win an award and have someone write something about it and mention your business.

People should know about your accomplishments and place in the industry, and press releases are a good way to go about it.

Look for Radio Spots

You can pay for a radio spot with trade if you have something that the radio could benefit from.

A good approach would be to give them a gift hamper that they can gift their listeners and in exchange, mention your business name.

Running radio ads isn’t expensive either. Some radio stations take as little as $100 to run a 30-second radio ad.

Make good Use of Advertising Agencies

Advertising agencies aren’t that costly. Some even offer advertisement coupons that you can take advantage of and enjoy quality advertisement at a low cost.

Do some little bit of research to find these agencies. Find out about their mailing list, the quantity they send out, and their quality of printed ads.

Some of these agencies will even get you a radio mention.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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January 01, 2020

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