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Digital Trends in Asia: 3 'Mashups' on the 2011 ADMA Yearbook

  |  July 20, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Ad spending, top 10 sites, and ecommerce trends.

The Asia Digital Marketing Association (ADMA) published its fifth annual Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Yearbook for 2011 last month. Packed with figures for 14 countries in Asia Pacific regarding Internet usage, ad spend, ecommerce, mobile, and social media usage, it's worth it for anyone in digital marketing to skim through to get an Internet geography lesson. But it's particularly useful for those like myself who cover Asia Pacific as a whole, given that keeping up with what's going on in 14 countries can be pretty challenging.

While all of the figures might be available somewhere else on the web, having them all in one place lets me do some interesting stats mashups that may put things in a different perspective on the state of digital marketing in Asia. Here are three examples:

Mashup 1: Asian Internet penetration and ad spend - "Who's paying for all this free content?"

According to the yearbook, Asia now has 825 million Internet users (still only 21 percent of the region's population) and ad spend is US$16.8 billion in 2010 – up 19 percent from 2009's $14.1 billion. While Japan accounts for just about half that total ($8.3 billion), China grew 43 percent in 2010 to nearly $6 billion, and is on pace to surpass Japan by 2014. Total Internet ad spend in Asia will be US$26 billion by 2013, which coincidentally is exactly what the U.S. Internet ad spend figure was in 2010 according to the IAB.

Mashing up the yearbook figures a bit more, average ad spend per Internet user in the U.S. is US$109 in 2010 vs. $23 per Internet user in Asia. Japan and Australia are a respectable US$84 and $105 per person annually – on par with the U.S. – and would appear to be enough to cover the free content that we all enjoy. China was at US$11, still low, but up 31 percent from 2009. Surprisingly, in Hong Kong and Singapore Internet ad spend is still just $38 per user in Hong Kong and $15 in Singapore, but the growth rate in 2010 was sky high at 28 percent and 245 percent per user respectively. Korea was perhaps most surprising, where Internet ad spend per user actually declined from US$33 per person to $31, down 7 percent year on year and well below that of Japan, Australia and the U.S. It would seem Koreans are getting a bit of a free content ride and going the wrong way as well.

In general, the conclusion would appear that ad spend per user in countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and eventually China should be gravitating toward Australia, Japan, and the U.S. The question is by when?

Mashup 2: Comparing Top 10 Sites in Hong Kong and Singapore - Amazing Growth Story!

Comparing figures from the last two years, Hong Kong and Singapore's top 10 sites experienced extraordinary growth, especially given the nearly flat growth of Internet penetration. Looking first at Hong Kong, given that Internet usage only grew 3.6 percent (from 4.7 million to 4.8 million people), the top 10 sites in 2010 all grew at double-digit rates according to comScore (see chart), especially those sites with a social media element. In Hong Kong, Facebook grew 57 percent as did Discuss Hong Kong. Sina also grew over 50 percent, displacing TVB in the top 10, mainly due to the dramatic increase in the use of Sina Weibo in Hong Kong. Oriental Daily displaced PCCW in the top 10, perhaps due to their extensive World Cup coverage in 2010. And it's no surprise that Apple (the Steve Jobs variety, not the Jimmy Lai Apple... ) has supplanted PCCW as a top 10 site in Hong Kong given the one million iPhones sold and high iPad penetration. In fact, 76 percent of Hong Kong Internet users visit a social networking site monthly. What's decidedly missing in this discussion in 2010 is Groupon, which has transformed e-commerce in Hong Kong. Something to watch for in 2011.

In Singapore, it's a similar story. While penetration has grown just 2 percent from 3.6 million online to 3.7 million, the top 10 sites have grown dramatically according to comScore's stats. See the table, below.

Again, some amazing gains from social media sites like Facebook, and the iPad / iPhone revolution have propelled Apple into the top 10 in Singapore as well. It's interesting that while Google has gained 17 percent in Singapore and 28 percent in Hong Kong, this is far behind the social media related sites and Apple, it is still way ahead of the 2 percent Internet growth. Clearly the web in Hong Kong and Singapore is consolidating.

Data in the just published yearbook is a bit dated already, in that we're halfway through 2011. But I'm sure the trend line of hyper growth for the social media sites will continue, and what is interesting is the halo effect on other top 10 sites as well - where Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have respectable growth rates in Hong Kong and Singapore. It's no surprise that Friendster, Ask, PCCW, and TVB are dropping out. While Friendster (and MySpace) were pioneers in social media, they just didn't keep up with the times and changed their models when required.

Mashup 3: Comparing what countries are buying online, or "Who knew that shoes were so popular to buy online in Asia?"

For each country, the ADMA Yearbook has a section on ecommerce and I've put together a summary chart of all the countries in terms of the top things that are bought online. Interestingly, shoes are right up there on top (who knew?) at 26.4 percent of Asians, mainly due to 37.1 percent of Chinese buying shoes online. That's a lot of shoes! Interestingly, Japanese like to buy books online (25.2%), but do not like to buy gifts online, even though they are a famously gift-giving culture. Only 8.2 percent of Japanese respondents stated they would buy a gift for someone online, well below the 20.8 percent Asian average and the lowest in Asia. Perhaps they think an online gift is a bit tacky. What's also interesting is that in Asia, Singaporeans, and Malaysians like to buy travel the most online, with very close results of 20.3 percent and 20.2 percent of Singaporeans and Malaysians respectively that buy travel online – well ahead of any other Asian country.

Some food for thought for ecommerce players whether selling travel, books, clothes, or gifts, it's important to know what the netizens in each country are comfortable in buying because it varies widely for a number of reasons.

That's all the mashups I can fit in this column, so I encourage you to download a free copy of the ADMA Yearbook and have a look and see what mashups and conclusions you can draw for yourself.

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Michael Zung

Michael Zung currently heads up Bite Communications digital practices in Asia Pacific, serving clients like Skype, Coach, Marriott, and Toys R Us for both their digital marketing and communications needs. Previous to Bite, Mike served as senior vice president in HSBC's Asia Pacific personal banking services, where he launched and headed up HSBC Direct in Taiwan and was responsible for the growth of HSBC Direct in Korea and Taiwan, the first "branchless bank" in both countries. Prior to HSBC, he founded OneXeno, a regional digital marketing consultancy based in Hong Kong that was subsequently acquired by Bite Communications. Mike first came to Asia 10 years ago, working for DoubleClick, where he served in various positions including managing director for North Asia and was also the first editor of AccessAsia, a guide for Asian specialists and current research. He holds an MBA from New York University and an MA from University of Washington.

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