Marketing technology, or MarTech for short, is a range of software and tools created to achieve marketing goals or objectives. As marketing becomes even more crucial, most companies have engaged with MarTech startups, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burdened by reduced budgets and higher targets, along with changing consumer behaviour, many marketers sail into the unknown as their existing strategies falter in the face of global lockdowns. This uncertainty has helped push MarTech and digital transformation to work hand-in-hand, to create revenue in a post-pandemic world. Thanks to pandemic-related remote working and home-based activities dominating every consumer’s life, the most effective way to connect with them is through the internet, leading to a growth in MarTech in Southeast Asia.
As a result, having a reliable way to measure ROI and business impact has never been more critical. According to Harvard Business Review, 80% of marketers are dissatisfied with the tools they have to measure ROI, while only 36% are happy with how they measure business impact. This indicates a need on the market for compelling startups that can help marketers effectively measure and project ROI post-pandemic.
We closely examine five key MarTech startups in Southeast Asia across different markets.
Singapore’s promising MarTech scene: A closer look at two key players
Thanks to its robust tech startup ecosystem, diverse culture, ease of doing business, and bustling business environment, it comes as no surprise that Singapore outranked Shanghai and Hong Kong to be the sixth most competitive marketing hub in the world.
In March this year, Affable.ai raised $2 million USD from Prime Venture Partners, Decacorn Capital, and SGInnovate. As a result, it unveiled plans to expand into international markets such as the US and secure high-profile clients alongside prominent names like Huawei, Wipro and Dentsu on their client roster. This Singapore-based MarTech startup is also planning to expand its proprietary algorithms around its data structure for accurate influencer-brand mapping and measuring campaign ROIs.
With the ability to track more than 3 million influencers across multiple social media platforms, Affable.ai allows marketers to run high-impact influencer marketing campaigns and measure post-campaign analytics to determine the campaign’s overall effectiveness. Its AI-driven, self-service SaaS platforms can detect fake followers, discover interests and classify social media users based on brands, fan pages and more.
Last year, Singaporean MarTech startup, Insider, raised $32 million USD in Series C funding. This boost to the coffers takes Insider’s total funding to $47 million USD, which the company plans to use to boost sales and marketing efforts, hire more engineers to its R&D team, and add new features to the platform. CEO and co-founder Hande Cilingir also planned to launch in the US while expanding its influence in Europe and Asia.
Used by more than 800 companies worldwide, including Santander, Samsung, and Singapore Airlines, Insider developed a one-stop platform that creates unified consumer profiles by connecting online and offline customer data. It also helps marketers create high-performing segments by engaging customer behaviour predictions with AI and delivering individualised experiences to consumers. With such massive funding alongside a comprehensive product, Insider is ready to shake up the MarTech sector in Southeast Asia.
Thailand-based Zanroo is one of the fastest-growing MarTech companies in Southeast Asia
In 2017, Zanroo was hailed as one of the fastest-growing MarTech companies in Southeast Asia. Since its formation in 2013, it has reached several impressive goals, such as becoming the first Thai company to raise $7.4 million from its Series A round and the first Southeast Asian MarTech company to receive an ISO 27001 certification. Partnered with Asia Plus Securities and Shift Ventures, Zanroo planned to spend the funding on R&D, team expansion, and marketing.
From 2020, however, Zanroo has shifted its focus to utilising online, offline, and real-time data to overcome, enhance and strengthen human engagement. It assists in managing big data sets, building solutions for data management and integrating data from different sources to provide complete analysis on human and AI behaviour.
ADA Asia raises money for non-government organisations through glocalisation
Malaysia-based ADA Asia is a big fan of glocalisation—the intent of leveraging local stories and channels to package less-than-familiar information in the form of local messages.
They helped a global refugee agency to raise 37% more donations than average and spur a 68% uplift in ROI within six weeks during Ramadan. Using the data they collected, they handpicked local influencers with community ties and designed the campaign using content, objective deployment and understanding of local cultures.
As a subsidiary of Axiata Group, ADA Asia operates across nine countries in Southeast Asia to create compelling, persuasive and effective campaigns by using seamless integration of data. In June 2021, ADA merged with Awake Asia, which opened up the Vietnamese market for ADA.
MarTech in Southeast Asia is a promising sector, especially since Singapore is one of the world’s top marketing hubs. With plenty of potential for growth, innovation and talent while keeping costs relatively cheap, Asian-based MarTech startups can find themselves winning in this space. As MarTech and digital transformation change the face of business in the region, this is one sector that is sure to continue to grow.