M&M Global spoke to multiple industry experts, including Chris Stephenson, regional head of strategy of PHD Asia Pacific. Chris spoke about the introduction of new VR systems post-Mobile World Congress this year, and how brands should be investing in the future of this technology, and it’s potential before it’s too late.

Chris says, “A lot of the businesses and brands that are driving this are at the heart of the APAC economy. All brands should absolutely be exploring how they can use this technology and how they can scale it.”

Beyond VR, Chris believes the most important media and marketing trend to watch over the coming years is artificial intelligence (AI). The development of advanced algorithmic software systems is a hot topic in Asia at the moment, following the defeat inflicted by Google’s AlphaGo programme over Korea’s world top-three player Lee Sedol at highly complex board game Go.

More so than even Deep Blue’s victory over chess champion Garry Kasparov 20 years ago, this is being billed as a significant moment in the development of AI.

“It wasn’t just that [AlphaGo] won,” says Chris Stephenson. “It’s the fact it won in a way that those familiar with the game described as an elegant and creative playing style. You could see the algorithm learning – not just getting better, but developing strategies.”

DeepMind, the company behind AlphaGo, is actually British, and was acquired by Google in 2014. However, Stephenson argues that AI will make a quicker impact in APAC, given the “rampant” adoption of new tech by consumers in the region.

Chris cites virtual personal assistants (VPAs) as one of the major AI opportunities for brands, and claims that within the next two years the industry will begin to use programmatic infrastructure to target consumers based not on market segmentation, but rather on intention.

“A lot of markets in APAC are very rampant adopters of new technology, particularly smartphones. Australians are disproportionate users of social; the Chinese are disproportionate users of online video. Other Asian markets such as Japan and Korea are incredibly disproportionate adopters of mobile,” Chris says.

“I fully expect APAC to be front and centre of that change [towards AI], given what we already know about consumer behaviour in the region,” he adds.

As stated at the beginning of this feature, it is nigh-on impossible to summarise the marketing and media landscape in APAC in 2,000 words, let alone in a solitary sentence.

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