Tuesday Mar 28

Issue index

The Ian Stewart Rapport

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Issue #01 - Interviews

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The Ian Stewart Rapport. Anything But Antisocial.

If you want to be fully hip to the next big thing in social marketing, Ian Stewart is the last word in Asia.

ithout a hint of exaggeration, he knows more about Asia’s youth than the youth itself – and he has generously offered to share that knowledge. We were overwhelmed – nay, emotional – when the former global MTV senior vice president agreed to write for a fledgling start-up like Agency.Asia Magazine.


Agency.Asia:  Looking just ahead to The Stewart Rapport. You’ll no doubt be intimately familiar with each and every logo on the list of what we’ll broadly call ‘social networking’ sites, just a few of which we’re showing here?

Ian Stewart: It’s absolutely crazy how many people are on these sites, how much time we spend on them, how much it’s changed our lives, and how it’s only going to get bigger. Over 500 million people are on social network sites today, with many youth active on three or more at once. Leisure time is changing, with many things being parked so people can poke.

Agency.Asia: Maybe that’s why it’s called ‘New Media’ - it seems that there is a new application appearing every few minutes – as evidenced by aggregators like www.go2web20.net You will be highlighting trends within Asian youth culture and how they will influence business around the world for each issue. Taking a look at this colorful mosaic of applications, aggregators and miscellaneous gizmos, where precisely do you intend to start?

 Ian Stewart: I saw some great data recently on what youngsters are do ‘more’ of these days, and what they’re doing ‘less’ of. It’s a good kick-start into everything from social networks to music to mobile to gaming, so I may as well dive into the deep end of the Pool with that next time.

I’ll then take a hard look at the changing music ecosystem (including the fall of the CD and the rise of concerts), then look at how gaming is shifting from console to PC (or Mac in my house), and then lift the lid on the truths and lies of monetizing the mobile phone. If I haven’t been kicked out by then, I have a few more topics up my t-shirt.

Agency.Asia: We do not kick our guests, Ian. After 18 years of trend spotting and immersing yourself in youth culture - and the business behind it - you’ve become one of the most sought out digital dialecticians on earth. Unsurprisingly, Asia holds a great deal of fascination. How did you get started and become the sage associated with its digital culture?

Ian Stewart: Funny, I have been into youth culture all my life. First as a young consumer, then as a student studying youth marketing, and finally throughout my career at Coca-Cola as a trend manager, Ogilvy as a planner, running my own youth agency Filter, and two stints at MTV.

Having only lived in Asia, across Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai and a few times in Singapore, I have been lucky enough to have been on the ground all around the region. As I turn grey, I now worry if an interest in youth culture is going to start to raise eyebrows.

Agency.Asia: Social media is another channel that must squeeze into the media mix for marketers and many companies would like to jump on the bandwagon. A recent study in the United States, however, showed that while over 70% of the major multinational companies plan to include Social Media in their marketing plans - only 49% believe that Social Media is actually effective. How does that compare to Asia?

Ian Stewart:  Asia is going for it when it comes to social media. Sites like Friendster have more members in Asia than they do in the US, and sites like Baidu and Cyworld are one of the biggest in the world. The sheer scale of many Asian SNS, like QQ in China, means that they need to be a very viable part of the marketing mix if you are going to connect with a demographic that increasingly doesn’t watch television.

MTV Asia runs campaigns on all the big social network sites, using video widgets that are ad supported. In many ways marketing on social media platforms in Asia is more advanced than in other parts of the world. And it’s only just begun mate. Check out some of MTV’s stats at www.slideshare.net/ianstewartmtv.

Agency.Asia: We’ll wade in here and say that 99% of companies wouldn’t know where to begin. What are the benchmarks for selecting a digital agency, as it strikes us that there are a lot of cowboys who over promise and under deliver?

Ian Stewart: Don’t really know about this. If you’re a client and you haven’t done your homework, then how can you choose the right media solution, let alone agency partner? Join Facebook and Friendster, start a blog, read other blogs, have a point of view for goodness sake.

Agency.Asia: We’ve heard many good reports about a commentary on social media and emerging trends, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies - by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li - have you got around to it? Which books have you found that best demystify the movement, Ian?

Ian Stewart:

1. Blogs
2. Blogs
3. Blogs
4. Blogs
5. The blog me and James Chadwick at Mindshare have yet to write

Agency.Asia: We will certainly get you and James down to the pub for a Tête à Tête at some stage when we recover from our launch. We ask each guest to nominate a marketing person or indeed a brand that they feel our readers would be interested to hear about in the next edition. Someone has already requested Google. Who would you like to nominate here?

Ian Stewart: Richard Tunbridge, a man who deserves two pats on the back. I’m giving him three.

Agency.Asia: Yes, Tunbridge is an old mate of ours. We’ll give him a bell. Ian, thanks very much and we are looking forward to the first installment of ... The Stewart Rapport.

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