First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Therine Goh: We’re doing well. Thank you for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded AdEasy.
Therine Goh: I’m the COO and co-founder of AdEasy. I have over 16 years of marketing and brand experience. Prior to founding AdEasy, I’ve worked at large corporations such as Resorts World Berhad and General Mills.
Our journey began at the end of 2013. My co-founder Melissa (CEO of AdEasy) and I were discussing how manual and tedious offline advertising still was. There was no easy way to compare and book offline advertising space directly from media owners. Just to get information and rates, as well as check availability, could take weeks. At that time, digital advertising had plenty of automated, tech-driven solutions. We decided it was time for offline advertising to have a digital solution as well. That was when AdEasy was conceptualized. We spent a few years doing R&D and finally launched AdEasy in 2017.
How does AdEasy innovate?
Therine Goh: We’ve been user-centric since day one, and our goal is to build solutions that solve real problems and give real value to our users. We innovate with this in mind. We look at trends, spend time to assess what would be of actual value to our users now and moving forward, and do the groundwork before actual development begins.
We are reactive to the landscape changes, and of course, our users’ needs. And we’ve learnt that being quick to innovate is not enough. What matters is also how well we understand the purpose of why we’re doing it and how it’s executed. Meaning, don’t just innovate for the sake of innovating. It has to make not only business sense for us but also provide actual value to our users. Even though we should act fast in the tech industry, we will invest more time doing prep work, such as evaluating and researching before rolling out anything.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Therine Goh: At the start of the MCO (Movement Control Order), we were very impacted, as most businesses cut their budgets, and advertising was one of them. Our users delayed or stopped their ad campaigns. We decided to use the time to deep dive internally and assess what we could do to provide actual value to our users and media partners during this pandemic. We touched base with many users and media partners to understand their issues and did the groundwork in preparation for their needs and demands for when things pick up. We designed special packages and collaborated with more media partners to offer a wider range of advertising options to our users. We also conceptualized a few new products that we hope will be a game-changer in the industry.
During the MCO (Movement Control Order), we also launched a pro-bono initiative called #AdEasyJagaSME to help support local businesses. We created a one-stop webpage for SMEs to list and sell for free to help provide visibility and drive immediate revenue for them. We promoted the initiative via social media, and secured FOC ad spaces from our media partners such as Astro Radio, Look Here, Visual Retale, Focus Malaysia, Rodeo GO, JagaApp, and Sky Blue Media to generate awareness so that the public would know of this webpage, visit it, and hopefully buy from the SMEs.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Therine Goh: Yes, we did have to make some hard decisions. I guess what I learnt was how supportive the local startup community and our advisors are. Everyone stepped in to share tips, experiences, helpful business and industry information with each other and organize webinars and calls. The lesson to me was to be open in accepting and giving information, and that we’re all going through the same challenges, so sharing and reaching out are important, as opposed to thinking you can get through this alone.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Therine Goh: I usually do a digital detox, meaning switching off my laptop, and leaving my phone in another room, and focus on being present with my family. I also read and watch TV. Before the pandemic, I’d go out and meet friends. It helps to step away from the source of stress and not think about it. The gravity of it tends to reduce after a while, and it helps me see things from another perspective.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Therine Goh: There are no other platforms that operate the way we do. Most only focus on one media type and they do not aim to provide end-to-end automated self-serve solutions like us; hence we can’t name any direct competitors.
To always be a step ahead in balancing user needs, industry practices, and technological trends. We maintain conversations with our users, media partners, and are always keeping abreast with the latest tech news to ensure we keep evolving our platform to serve our stakeholders better.
Your final thoughts?
Therine Goh: There’s always a silver lining in every situation. During these trying times, try to stay positive and always look at the glass half full. This applies to both work and personal life.