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Monolith: marketing agency returns home to digitally ready clients

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Kenn-Francis-R.-Costales
Kenn Francis R. Costales

By Arra B. Francia, Reporter

When Filipino-owned digital marketing agency Monolith Growth Ventures Pte. Ltd. started operations a year ago, the numerous hurdles in closing a deal in the Philippines pushed its business away to the foreign market. With clients from the United States and Australia, the privately held firm is now looking to get a slice of the Filipino market in a bid to attract more companies into the digital space.

Kenn-Francis-R.-Costales
Kenn Francis R. Costales

Monolith founder Kenn Francis R. Costales, said he is in talks with large companies to take charge of digital marketing campaigns, such as the purchase of ad placements online.

“In the Philippines we’re targeting large companies talaga (really), because I know that they’ll say yes eventually. It’s just a matter of convincing them,” the 27-year-old entrepreneur said in an interview last week.

“For fourth quarter this year until first quarter next year Philippines ang focus ko talaga (is really my focus). I want to close mga (about) three to five big clients,” said Mr. Costales, who held various positions in brand management and business development for consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble in Singapore for four years before setting up his own business.

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The Singapore-based firm previously signed only foreign clients as Mr. Costales noted that the Philippines is not yet ready for digital marketing, given the length of time it takes to explain the benefits of the service to local clients compared to that of foreign companies.

“So when I was starting out, I decided na unahin muna ang foreign market kasi ready na sila and naghahanap na sila ng digital marketing agency,” Mr. Costales said.

(So when I was starting out, I decided to prioritize foreign markets because they were ready and looking for a digital marketing agency.)

Sa Philippines kasi sobrang tagal — mga five months to eight months in closing a deal,” he added.

(In the Philippines, it takes so long — about eight months in closing a deal.)

That length of time compares with just three to five weeks when dealing with foreign clients, he said.

Mr. Costales cited differences in digital marketing strategies abroad and in the country, where the latter usually focuses on activities that would raise awareness and increase engagement rather than look at return on investment (ROI).

“Number one challenge is always about what is the value of digital marketing,” he said, adding that this prompts questions on whether an ROI exists, which leads to an ROE-based marketing.

“[My advantage now is] I have experience with much more developed clients in the US and Australia so I know what I’m doing. I am now launching this in the Philippines. Ready na (It’s ready). We know what works now. Transfer na lang natin (Let’s just transfer them),” Mr. Costales said.

The company managed to realize P6 million in revenues during its first year of operations. In the future, Mr. Costales is hopeful that the company will post as much as P50 million in annual revenues.

Its clients include Australian fitness e-commerce brand The WOD Life AU, which it helped generate $1 million in additional revenue after eight months of Facebook ad placements. This indicated to a 10-to-1 return on ad spend. In the United States, Monolith helped dance studio Arthur Murray USA pick up thrice the number of monthly qualified leads, allowing it to further expand to the Midwest.

To stamp its presence in the country, Mr. Costales said the company is preparing to put up an office in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig before the year ends. This will house seven employees who had initially been working remotely. The executive is also targeting to hire at least two employees every month to support Monolith’s expansion.

Mr. Costales said companies should now start building up their digital presence, as it would be a vital component to their growth.

“I would say it’s definitely vital to their growth, especially when it’s cheap now,” he said.

He said this is because buying ads is done through auction. If there are many bidders in one side, the ads are expensive.

Sa US, each click mga $15 siya. Sa Philippines it’s in centavos pa. My advice actually is to start and test now habang mura pa instead of waiting for later. Kung magiging mainstream na siya, saka siya mamahal,” he said.

(In the US, each click is about $15. In the Philippines it’s in centavos. My advice actually is to start and test now while it is inexpensive instead of waiting for later. When it becomes mainstream, it will become expensive.)

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