As Jason Wong Tsz-yeung sets his foot in the room with a confident stride, you can literally feel his determination and energy. Jason was promoted to a department head with almost 30 staffers at his service, after working in the 4As advertising agency Omnicom Media Group for just five short years. He shuttled between meetings with various teams every day and that alone would take up most of his day. Certain issues may take time to resolve and he has to communicate with various departments and clients to understand the latest market trends. The title on his business card reads “Head of Performance” and it’s hard to not feel curious about what his department does.
Racing with time, striving for best
“We are a media agency. Or more precisely, our department specialises in achieving KPI (Key Performance Indicator) targets for clients. For instance, a client gives us a budget and our job is to maximise positive impact by advertising on digital media, and then translate that impact into sales value. In other words, we need to make clients feel that their money is well spent with satisfactory ROI (Return on Investment) -- yes, it does sound more like investment than advertising,” explained Jason.
With the advancement of modern technologies, Jason’s team would strive for the most impact with various cutting-edge algorithms, such as Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO), which personalises the advertisements a viewer sees by making reference to his viewing history, demographics and other data. Or, they may exchange client’s data with a second party, or acquire relevant data from a third party via Data Management Platform (DMP). After consolidating the data, they would analyse them and use them to define a specific audience segment for a brand. Then targeted advertisement tailor-made to this specific audience would be placed to achieve most advertising impact and benefits.
As opposed to traditional media, the feedback from online audience can be instantly reflected with real-time data, meaning the effects of online advertisement are almost immediate. “That’s why I have to deal with countless figures every day. I’m always racing with time, just like dealing in the stock market.” Jason once had a project in which his client needed to start selling a smartphone online right after a global product launch. “We must instantly find the right target audience. If we missed it, the monetary loss to our client could be astronomical.”
Online media is the mainstream in future
As seen from these episodes, Jason is not overwhelmed by immense pressure and challenges at work and that’s the reason why he chose to work in advertising. “I hate monotony. I love challenging jobs that involve creativity. Advertising is ever-changing and it entails knowledge in different sectors with different skill sets.”
Jason has been dealing with online media since he first joined the industry. He pointed out that digital media will be the mainstream in the future. “Many clients love leveraging the competitive advantage of online media, such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. As time goes by, various sectors are also evolving to keep abreast of the time. Clients like supermarkets used to focus on offline brick-and-mortar stores only. Now almost all major supermarket chains have developed e-commerce channels which are increasingly popular among shoppers.
Similarly, the form of online advertising has also been changing constantly. In the past, clients might buy banners from one particular digital media. But nowadays, most of them would deploy data analytics to find their target client segments. “For instance, we need to identify a group of women shoppers who visit a certain car website regularly and sell them feminine products.” That’s why Jason has to keep track of the latest fads and pick up information ceaselessly. He also shares his insights with his colleagues and follow up with those trends. “Then I’ll share the most updated information with my clients and custom-make the best analytical strategy for them, to strive for the best performance.”
Opportunities come to those who are prepared
Jason has developed an interest in advertising since his secondary school years. He wanted to build a career in advertising and he chose to enrol in the higher diploma programme in advertising and international brand management at VTC before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Communication Management at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Looking back to those days as a fresh graduate, Jason recalled his job hunt was not all smooth sailing. “Our programme was relatively new then. Although lecturers were kind enough to update us with job market information, without any connection or alumni to give us advices and to make referrals, we always have to knock on doors of advertising agencies to recommend ourselves for a job.”
To make an interview happen, Jason would send target employers meticulously designed cover letter. He was hired by the 4A’s company Universal McCann at last. When asked about his secret trick to being employed by the prestigious agency, he explained, “My grad project was related to an airline and I did extensive research on the company. Coincidentally, the airline happened to be Universal McCann’s client, so that I had much insights to share with the interviewer.” As the idiom goes, opportunities come to those who are prepared.
Clear career path, fast track to success
Nowadays, fellow VTC graduates who are interested in finding a job in the advertising sector can do so more conveniently, he said. “4A’s companies seldom post hiring ad. This is still the norm and you still have to ask for a job. But you can easily find the right contact in the right department online these days. Many candidates actually got in touch with me that way.” That being said, you’d still need to know a few tricks to set yourself apart from competitions.
“From time to time, I come back to my alma mater to share my experience with VTC students. I always tell them to think about their career path. Advertising is made up of many different operations. If you pick the right path for you, you’d be on a fast track to success. Before getting in advertising, understand your own interests first. Obtain relevant qualifications before you graduate to show that you’re passionate about advertising and has the sensibility for it. That would boost your chance of being employed by your preferred employer. Ask yourself, how can you stand out from the many graduates from the advertising programmes each year? Think about it from a marketing angle: how you position yourself in the market. If you can’t answer that question, that means you can’t give the interviewer a reason to hire you. Then why doesn’t him hire the one sitting next to you instead?”
The advertising sector has no preference on the major study of its employees. Anyone from any academic background is welcome. But only those with strong analytical mind, logical thinking and advertising sense will succeed. “For instance, I’d ask candidates for their opinions on the dwindling user base of Facebook. A shrinking user base doesn’t mean you should just stop using the media. You need advertising sense to analyse the background, behaviour and demographics of Facebook’s key user segments. You can then find valuable target customers for the right client.”
Throughout the interview, Jason keeps stressing the importance of passion in the business. “Competition is keen in advertising and the industry landscape changes by the minute. Tactics that work today could be totally obsolete by tomorrow. Thus, it is a demanding sector. The only thing that keeps me in advertising is my passion. When I see my client’s product going viral on the internet, and the data shows tremendous impact, it’s like an all-A’s report card. It’s the satisfaction that gives me the momentum to keep doing better.”