Five questions for Puca's Jimmy Poon

And other people news in Greater China

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BEIJING--The Dublin-based mobile marketing specialist Puca has appointed Jimmy Poon in Beijing as managing director for China. He succeeds Stephane Vidaillet, who returned to France after nearly seven years in the mainland but remains with Puca as a director. Previously, Mr. Poon was Hong Kong-based managing director, Greater China at Tribal DDB.

With more than 460 million mobile phone users, advertisers increasingly are turning to that medium to grow their business in China, said Mr. Poon. "Mobile is three powerful tools all rolled into one, an advertising channel, a direct response enabler and a billing platform."

Mr. Poon recently spoke with AdAgeChina Editor Normandy Madden about challenges and opportunities facing marketers in China as the industry heads towards third-generation (3G) technology, which will bring even greater opportunities for non-voice applications.

AdAgeChina: China Mobile has started putting software on new handsets that make it possible to introduce mobile coupons, 2D bar codes that can be scanned by phones and other types of 2D marketing. Are your clients ready to tap into this technology, and are Chinese retailers ready to work with it?

Jimmy Poon: At the moment, the real hurdle for 2D bar codes, like any new technology, is its installation base being still too small. Clients are interested in learning more about what it can do, but few are ready to use it in scale. By pre-installing 2D bar code readers in new handsets, China Mobile is taking mobile "response-ability" to the next level. When you think about it carefully, a mobile 2D bar code is actually created for the print medium, allowing newspaper and magazine readers to more readily respond. I see that many marketers still view mobile as a stand-alone medium and fail to see how mobile technology can turn a traditional non-interactive medium interactive. 2D bar codes will do a great job in illuminating this so powerful, and yet often neglected, aspect of mobile marketing.

AdAgeChina: The Chinese government has also become active in creating rules to govern the use of mobile phones for advertising. Does that make your job easier or more difficult?

Mr. Poon: In the mid to long run, it will make our job easier. Continuously abused usage of mobile marketing will certainly turn people off, and without any control, the effectiveness of mobile marketing can only diminish. In the short run, it might appear that we now have a more difficult job, with more things to consider and new rules to follow. We need to look beyond the surface for this one.

AdAgeChina: The government is likely to start issuing 3G licenses in China this year. Can you name some specific ways 3G will improve the ability of marketers to communicate with consumers?

Mr. Poon: Content format is on top of the list in terms of how 3G can improve the ability of marketers to communicate, which means traditionally richer formats such as video can then be part of the future content mix. I also believe the enhancement of bandwidth will blur the line between advertising and content, and it is a very interesting point for marketers to consider. I have some thoughts in this area, and can perhaps share more on this at a later time.

AdAgeChina: Will the mobile phone overtake the PC in China as the primary means of internet access, whether for web-surfing or blogging? How long do you think it will take?

Mr. Poon: I believe it will, and especially with the convergence of PCs and mobile phones. For me, instead of focusing on when this overtake will happen, I am more interested in HOW it will evolve internet content and communication processes. Marketers who can intuitively simplify complicated messaging to its gist will thrive in this new era when mobile overtakes PC as the primary accessing channel to the internet.

AdAgeChina: What's the biggest factor holding back the growth of mobile marketing in China?

Mr. Poon: There are two factors. Spamming is the biggest ,and the second factor is marketers' segregation of mobile in their mind as a standalone medium, their failure to recognize how it can join forces with traditional media to make them work in more accountable and effective fashion.


Other appointment news in Greater China

[shanghai] Victoria Stull has relocated to Shanghai as VP, integrated cyber media, a division of Market China Inc. that operates GOQO, an internet game platform, Belle Magazine and mybelle.com. Previously, she was president of Market China Inc. in Los Angeles, Ca.

[shanghai] Euro RSCG, Shanghai has promoted Simone Zhang to strategic planning director and Yim Keen to strategist. Previously, Ms. Zhang was group account director. Mr. Yim joined the agency in October 2006 as senior account director. Before that, he was group strategic planner at Ogilvy & Mather, Hong Kong.

[hong kong] The Walt Disney Company's Buena Vista International Television arm has restructured its sales division in Asia/Pacific. Amit Malhotra was promoted to regional director, sales for Asia, India and Singapore and Mark Chan's role expanded to director, sales, Greater China. Both executives will relocate to Hong Kong. Previously, Mr. Malhotra was director, sales, India in Mumbai, while Mr. Chan was sales director for China in Beijing. Buena Vista also promoted Hong Kong-based Ramez Sheikh, sales manager for Indonesia and emerging markets including Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Brunei. He is now also responsible for Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
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