The potential for digital marketing in Asia is huge, with the Asia Pacific Digital Factbook noting that in excess of 40% of the world’s internet users are located in the region. This potential is, slowly but surely, being realized. Digital ad spending already accounts for 25% of total media ad spending, and this is set to increase rapidly. It’s estimated that companies across APAC will more than double spending by 2018, up from $46.59bn in 2014 to $96.40bn.
There are a number of factors driving this expansion, not least of which is the changing attitudes of young people compared to the previous generation. India’s youth, for one, are focusing more on themselves than their parents did, and seeking the instant gratification and information afforded them by technology and greater connectivity. College students now make up 34% of the social media population in the country, and as they gain more disposable income they will become a key group to target. Urbanization is also playing a role in India. A study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India shows that 25m people in rural India now use social media - double last year’s total - while 118m of people in the urban population use it.
In China, 85% of consumers now choose a digital channel as the first step for product research, while 86% have browsed in a bricks-and-mortar shop before buying online. This is being enabled by a massive growth in the use of mobile. Mobile is becoming increasingly important across marketing, as campaigns look to apply across all devices rather than exclusively focusing on desktops. This is having a particular impact in Asia Pacific, where the affordability of smartphones is seeing them introduced to areas where they would previously not have been an option. Markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and China have over 70% smartphone penetration. A study from Flurry Analytic further revealed that Asia’s mobile app usage increased by 77% last year, and mobile internet ad spending is to rise to 20.2% of all digital ad spending by 2019 as marketers see the benefits.
For western marketers looking to move into the region, there are a number of opportunities. The lateness at which marketers are entering the field means that most are inexperienced in areas such as social measurement. Many only use basic glamor metrics like followers, as opposed to focusing on the impact of social on key business objectives. The APAC Digital Directions report of 648 respondents in Australia, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and India, found that 62% of respondents said they measure click-through rates and campaign ROI, while 65% said that they measured response rates. To realize the benefits of digital marketing, refining metrics and gauging where a campaign is gaining traction is one of the most integral aspects.
As countries like India and China grow into true economic powerhouses and the avenues to leverage digital marketing increase, the opportunity for expansion is huge. However, they will not see the ROI they could be if they fail on easy things like metrics, and as digital markets get to know the region better, it will be interesting.