Google eyes expansion in Southeast Asia; Yahoo-Nielsen, Synovate report Internet usage stats for Philippines and Malaysia.
As news about Yahoo's move to fire CEO Carol Bartz made headlines, the global search alliance between Yahoo and Microsoft continues to make its way to Asia.
The transition of Yahoo's organic search results to Microsoft Bing is scheduled to be complete in the India market by mid-September, according to a company spokesperson.
In Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand went through the Yahoo-Microsoft transition in December 2010.
As the Yahoo algorithm transition proceeds across Asia, how will it impact Chinese-speaking cities such as Hong Kong and Taiwan where Yahoo search dominates?
Antony Yiu, regional director for North Asia and MD for Hong Kong at iProspect said he doesn't expect to see a lot of changes for advertisers during the transition.
However, he foresees minor hiccups in the transition process of organic search for website owners since the weightings on various ranking factors on Yahoo and Bing have some differences.
But Yiu noted both search engines treat the number of quality links from third-party websites to be one of the most important factors in ranking.
For paid search, Yiu is confident that Bing has experience handling transitions across a number of markets and anticipates Microsoft will have solid plans to ensure advertisers will not be negatively impacted during the transition.
He pointed out that Bing SEM system is actually more similar to Google than Yahoo.
"Therefore, if an advertiser has been running campaigns in both Google and Yahoo, they will actually find the change to Bing a welcoming move, especially there are a lot more optimization options that Bing provides," Yiu added.
Meanwhile, Yahoo released its Net Index Study for Southeast Asia to provide consumer insights for advertisers targeting the emerging markets.
Filipinos Search a lot for Entertainment
According to the study in partnership with Nielsen, search plays a significant role in the overall engagement on the Internet at 80 percent as Filipinos go online for leisure and entertainment activities from listening to international music (68 percent), local music (65 percent), viewing photos and videos (59 percent) to playing games (55 percent).
Social networking (82 percent) is also popular among Filipino youths and a dominant Internet activity comparable to search in the country.
With a lot of online activity focused on entertainment and social networking, it is no surprise that the 10 to 29 year old demographic remains the core audience segment that drives Internet adoption in the Philippines.
Malaysians Lead Southeast Asia Counterparts in Social Networking
Social networking (90 percent) is the dominant platform where Malaysians connect and communicate and it has increased by 29 percent since 2010, based on results in conjunction with research firm Synovate.
Accessing search engines comes a close second at 89 percent as an activity that fuels Internet usage in the country, followed by email and visiting online portals.
Malaysians are becoming increasingly comfortable transacting online with 40 percent purchasing goods through the Internet using their credit cards. The report noted that the three sectors with the most e-commerce potential include offering airline tickets on deal aggregator sites, followed by clothes and mobile phones.
Google to Hire 500 in Asia Region
North Asia may be one region where Google doesn't always dominate due to other players like Baidu and Naver. But in Southeast Asia, the search giant continues to assert its presence.
Google opened a new office in Bangkok, Thailand a fortnight ago, the second operation in the region this year after it set up shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in January.
The Internet firm plans to hire about 100 people in Southeast Asia alone and 400 more in the region this year.
In Singapore, Google's regional office, established in 2007, employs around 250 staff.
According to media reports, Google has plans to open an office in Indonesia as early as this October or before 2012, targeting small and medium-sized businesses.
In July, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was in Indonesia to meet with the vice president to discuss the company's interest in expanding in the country. He told The Jakarta Globe that the increasing Internet and mobile penetration in Southeast Asia's largest economy, along with the use of its search engine, made Indonesia interesting to Google.
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Adaline Lau, ClickZ Asia editor, oversees day-to-day editorial operations covering digital marketing from search to social media, mobile to analytics in the region. Before ClickZ, she was senior reporter at Marketing Magazine and has worked as a journalist for The Singapore Marketer and Asia Pacific Broadcasting. Connect with her @adalinelau or Google+.
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