VidCon Asia sat down with Allen Lee, Co-Founder of the influencer network Collab Asia to learn how creators are thriving across the region, and what some of Asia’s popular video platforms are up to.

Allen Lee is the COO and Co-Founder of the creative studio and influencer network Collab Asia. The company started life in Los Angeles, and soon expanded into the Asian market. Lee’s role now involves working with and representing creators from across the APAC region, helping them manage and monetise their content and communities on social media. 

“We represent creators and individuals, but we also represent larger companies like record labels and Japanese animation companies,” Lee explains. 

“Our company is multi-platform and platform agnostic, so we focus on a variety of video formats. We work with Youtube as a core observation platform because they’re huge and established. We also work on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and of course, China’s platforms including Douyin, Tencent and Weibo.”

While working closely with creators within the APAC market, Collab Asia also play an important role in connecting creators from different parts of the world to the key Asian markets.

“In the beginning we were focused on growth in each market. Now we’re at a stage in our growth cycle where we’re encouraging cross-selling and collaborations.

“In Japan, we are helping an animation company distribute their content to all of South East Asia, while in Korea, we’re working with K-Pop musicians on collaborations with dance companies and artists in Indonesia,” Lee says.

A key market Collab Asia has been focusing on is China. Lee is helping creators enter the market, while also helping Chinese creators access the rest of the world. 

“The Chinese market is pretty unique,” Lee believes. 

“YouTube doesn’t have a monopoly on video platforms there like it does in the rest of the world. There isn’t one dominant player, but that is good for our company, because we can service creators across multiple platforms. 

“In China, Tencent and its TikTok counterpart, Douyin, are popular platforms because they use less professionally created content and instead focus on user-generated content.”

A campaign that Lee recently worked on in China was with Japanese creator Raphael, who staked his claim to social media fame with videos showcasing social experiments and pranks on the streets of Tokyo. With a huge fan base in Japan, his content soon became highly popular in China. 

“We saw a tonne of demand for Raphael’s content in China. We got him into the market by  creating a large social media presence across all of the Chinese platforms. Not to give away the numbers, but by entering China, Raphael is now making a significant amount of additional money,” Lee enthuses.

Beat up for Charity! Raphael puts his body on the line | Raphael Japan

However, Lee also acknowledges that it can be a challenge for people looking to access the Chinese market. 

“There’s a huge language barrier, not to mention the different kinds of business areas and approaches there as well. So Raphael’s move into China is a huge success story for us.”

Lee’s approach to successfully growing CollabAsia in the region is by taking things back to basics. This he says, involves starting with the fundamentals of digital marketing, particularly when it comes to working with influencers and utilising video platforms. 

“There are many things that are not being targeted in Asia yet. These include factors like having brands advertise on YouTube, and collaborating with content creators. From our experience, Asia is at a stage that the U.S. was at around three or four years ago.”

Lee emphasises that video marketing is quickly developing in Asia, with a range of new trends and changes emerging.

“One trend is the increase in broadband penetration. It is still half that compared with other major developed markets. In countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, for example, it is not about taking innovative approaches, it’s about scaling broadband penetration. This then allows the basics of influencer and video marketing to occur.

“The second trend is that cost per thousand impressions (CPM) rate in Asia is increasing at double the rate of established regions like Western Europe and the US. These are fundamental things that don’t rely on innovation. Instead it is a matter of growing with the market,” Lee says.

The future certainly looks bright, and accordingly, there is a lot about video marketing that is exciting Lee currently. One area in particular is the maturing nature of the creator ecosystem. 

“I see video as totally market tested. I am seeing middle class young people -- people who don’t want to do average jobs -- become successful creators. They want to express themselves individually, and have a voice. It is really exciting to be a part of this in Asia. 

“Then you have the pace of China’s development with video. Since they have somewhat decoupled themselves from US platforms, they are just expanding in a crazy way. The social media trends are evolving in ways that are beyond what we have seen anywhere else.”

Allen and the Collab Asia team will be speaking at VidCon Asia Summit on 3-4 December 2019 in Singapore. Join them for their sessions on Building A Robust Creator Partnership Program and Building Communities in Gaming Across Asia, as well as networking and cocktails on Day 1! Book your ticket today.