Tag Archives: trends

Vietnam: Digital Trends & Consumer Landscape Overview

With a population of more than 96 million (set to hit 100m by 2022), a median age of 30 years, and internet penetration standing at 50 million, or just over 54% of local population, Vietnam is a young and dynamic market representing a huge commercial opportunity for brands, marketers and investors.

Since 2013, the last time we took a detailed look at Vietnam’s digital landscape, so much has changed. Most notable has been the rise of mobile as a channel, driven by lower handset costs and faster 4G connections. The mobile internet experience now dominates in Vietnam, with consumers naming mobile as the second most important source of news after TV, the most important “big ticket” purchase and their second favourite daily activity after spending time with family and before hanging with friends.

Digital technologies and online connectivity promise to be a key driving force in the growth and transformation of the Vietnamese economy over the coming decades, with the IT industry is expected to contribute up to 10% of the country’s GDP by 2020. Ho Chi Minh City is being touted as the Silicon Valley of Asia with blockchain, fin-tech, health-tech and digital accelerators playing a key role in the emerging start-up, hipster coffee shop and co-working space culture.

Below we’ve collected some takeaway resources covering the key digital facts and figures for Vietnam.

Mobile Ecosystem Report Vietnam 2017/18

Vietnam mobile ecosystem and digital sizing report from Group M and the MMA.

Digital in Vietnam 2018

Key data covering the Vietnam digital landscape.

Digital Marketing Agency & Marketer Landscape in Vietnam

Vietnam digital marketing overview from an advertiser and agency perspective.

Vietnam Digital Landscape 2017

Detailed overview of digital stats and consumer internet data in the Vietnam market.

Vietnam Digital Trends 2017

Trends to watch out for across the Vietnamese consumer internet.

Vietnam ICO & Blockchain Market

Overview of the emerging blockchain and ICO scene in Vietnam.

Vietnam Today – The Digital Economy

In depth report looking at the future digital transformation of Vietnam.

PWC Vietnam Spotlight

Deep dive into Vietnam as an investment opportunity and information technology driven market.

Vietnam Esports Market Report 2018

Insight into the growth of Esports in Vietnam..

In terms of other resources, check out Vietcetera for wider coverage of Vietnam, Tech In Asia for tech news, or Geektime and ICTNews for tech news… if you speak Vietnamese. Finally, you can find out all the practical information you need to know about the start-up scene in Vietnam at this Google Doc.

Advertisements

Blockchain, Cats and the idea of “Infinite Extensibility”

Last December, a new game became an overnight mega-trend in the blockchain world. CryptoKitties allowed users to buy, own, and trade unique collectible cartoon cats on the blockchain. Around the time of launch, CryptoKitties was so successful that it slowed the Ethereum network.

This is a big deal, as the Ethereum blockchain is, without a doubt, the most active smart contract platform in existence. Of the top 100 tokens by market cap, 94% are built on top of Ethereum. Of the top 800 tokens, 87% are built on Ethereum. Most of these tokens are ERC20 tokens, which made possible the majority of the $5.5 billion raised through ICOs in 2017 and the $6.5 billion raised in token sales during just the first quarter of this year.

The driving principle behind the creation of CryptoKitties was to demonstrate the potential of Ethereum and the blockchain ecosystem for trading and securing digital assets. In the white paper, the founders discuss the narrow focus of most blockchain projects on payments. Ultimately, they hoped CryptoKitties would help people expand their vision of what a blockchain could do.

A few weeks back Digital in Asia met with Benny Giang, the founder of CryptoKitties, to talk Ethereum, cats and art on the blockchain.

Digital in Asia: So Benny, where did the inspiration for CryptoKitties come from? How did it start?

Benny: We love cats, and we know it’s a fact that the internet and cats is just married, right? Basically any new internet technology always starts with cats.

We also thought that blockchain seemed pretty interesting, but we wanted to make it more accessible. We saw so many ICOs happening, and we loved the variety. Some were solving really big interesting problems, like world hunger level. But there were some that were just … I don’t even know what they were doing. It’s just getting DJ Khaled to hype up their ICOs! It felt like what was missing was the education and accessibility piece. So we had the idea of putting cats on the blockchain to drive our education and accessibility agenda.

This turned our attention to a couple of existing crypto collectibles like CryptoPunks and Spells of Genesis. These were the first to use the ERC20 token standard from Ethereum, and then create a collectible on the blockchain. But the limitation with the existing collectibles was that they were only an image. We wanted to take it to the next level. So we started exploring the game play, and we arrived on this interesting idea of allowing people to breed their kitties on the blockchain.

We then spent a month on genetic simulations, trying to figure out how deep we could go and how we could evolve the idea. We established a 256 bit genome. That results in about 4 billion variations of kitties. In terms of human genetics, that’s nothing, it’s very controllable. But in game play, 4 billion potential kitties is quite a lot of variations. It was more of an experiment, playing around, and that was the initial genesis of CryptoKitties.

Digital in Asia: Where did you get started with blockchain? Because it seems as if you were already very familiar with the technology. CryptoKitties was more about doing something in blockchain, as opposed to doing CryptoKitties.

Benny: It started in the spring of 2017. I began reading more, specifically on Ethereum. Most of our team, except a couple of members, were already involved in blockchain, the Bitcoin side. They mined Bitcoin, they bought them, they sold them from way back.

From a more typical internet technology perspective, a lot of the product teams and my background was around building B2B Enterprise SaaS Software. I was interested in the concept of the world computer, and creating a decentralised app store to build real utility. That’s really fascinating, and the whole decentralised aspect really caught my attention.

But I love the quote: “Any disruptive technology starts off as a toy”. And in there I saw the opportunity to bring the educational piece forward, in a way that people could learn, but also have fun.

Digital in Asia: Crypto can be complicated. How long did you think it would take people to get their heads around digital wallets, Gas price and all the other complexities of blockchain, and Ethereum specifically.

Benny: In the first week about 80,000 people signed up. These are new users we had never interacted with, and probably don’t even know what a digital wallet is. So that was already a huge factor. 80,000 new people were so attracted to this game that they were willing to jump through all these hoops.

My biggest goals always involve optimizing the experience for the end user. That’s all I care about, that’s all our team cares about. But in blockchain, and Cryptokitties, we’re still pretty far away from having it where you click on the button and everything just works.

Are people scared of Gas and all these things? I would say they are. Sometimes Gas price goes up and they don’t understand why, but that’s kind of our role, and part of why we created the game. Right now we’re building a whole new onboarding process that will help educate: “Hey this is what Gas is, this is why we need it, this is why it keeps fluctuating.” So people will understand.

Digital in Asia: Why did you decide to build on the Ethereum blockchain? There are alternative blockchains out there like Neo, and as we’ve seen with Gas price increases, and congestion, it’s not always an easy environment.

Benny: It was a timing thing and also more of a mission alignment thing. We met some of the Ethereum team last year and saw that these people really do have the builder mentality, they’re very product focused and development focused. Looking at other blockchains there is potential scalability, but in terms of full production readiness, with thousands of dApps already built on top of it, and battle tested, I would say there is only one at this point.

There are some blockchains being talked about in terms of being Ethereum killers, and that may be true, but let’s see when they get full production ready. Practically, if we were to consider these other chains then we wouldn’t have launched CryptoKitties when we did, as we would’ve waited six more months. It was more of we need to do it now, and we need to ship the product because the timing was right, it was when ICOs were popping like crazy. But as you know we didn’t do an ICO. We actually did the reverse ICO where we built the product, and we sold people kitties!

Digital in Asia: Where is CryptoKitties going? What are your future plans?

Benny: We’re going to work towards deepening the user experience. That means more game play features and expanding to new ways of thinking about the platform. It’s very interesting the three areas we play in. One is crypto, the other one is gaming and the final area is art. We were invited to the Rare Art Festival New York, and we asked a bunch of people to basically talk about this new contemporary art form which is digital collectibles. And some people laughed, definitely.

Screenshot-2018-04-10-at-11.24.05

What’s interesting to me is these Kitties will live for thousands of years. What we have done is basically made history. No matter if we are alive, or the company is alive, these kitties will live. We have this concept of infinite extensibility which is related to the kitties as art form.

Digital in Asia: This is an interesting area. What do you mean by infinite extensibility?

Benny: You buy a painting, let’s say it’s the Mona Lisa. It’s pretty old. You just keep it, and you just look at it, right? And as it ages with time, it just deteriorates. But with the digital collectibles as an art form, as time passes, more functionalities can be added. Right now all you can do is buy and sell and breed. But what if you could walk it, what if this kitty could be a real kitty in your mind. So it’s like an art piece that you can continually interact with as time progresses.

Digital in Asia: It’s apparent you’re not actually a blockchain business, you’re a gaming or collectibles business. Blockchain is just the technology you’re building your business on, in the same way that the internet is the technology that Uber or Amazon build their business on. But we don’t – for the most part – talk about that any more. Every business built on the blockchain right now is called a blockchain business, and this is just about the early stage nature of the space really. What other projects do you feel are good enough to transcend blockchain, and become real businesses?

Benny: The whole blockchain gaming and collectibles category is going to be huge this year. In regards to ICOs, there are a few products I find interesting. They’re more related to AI blockchain, and the convergence of the two. But I don’t actively get involved with many ICOs because the space is almost too hot right now. I would rather hang around the people who are developers or product people, who focus on the end view. There is so much work to do on protocols, all these different things. If we want more businesses to transcend blockchain, we need better and more secure blockchain platforms.

Digital in Asia: Okay. On that, are there any ways in which Ethereum limits you?

Benny: Limitations? We really support the Ethereum ecosystem. We have a team of six that are focused on long term scaling of Ethereum, talking to other chains, working with side chains, trying to find the right solutions. Introducing Casper, or at least the MVP of Casper, will be a big milestone for Ethereum this year. If they pull it off without doing a super hard fork, and the community comes to a consensus, they’re going to be way ahead of other people. Because again, they really have the masses, they just need to move the masses to the next level.

Digital in Asia: Do you think there is a danger that they won’t successfully deliver, or build consensus around, sharding or proof-of-stake? We don’t want Ethereum Classic 2.

Benny: No, No, No. Nobody wants that. Ethereum is below 600 dollars right now, which is low compared to a few months back. When CryptoKitties started it was at 400 dollars. So it’s back to a level of normality for us. It’s good for everybody to calm down, and come together around common goals, because we need to think long term. We all know the market was bound for a correction, and while that’s sad because I own Ethereum, it’s good as it lowers costs to build and operate on the blockchain.

Digital in Asia: What plans do you have around mobile? Any sort of AR functionality? People think it would be cool to see your kitties.

Benny: We have launched a mobile version of CryptoKitties in Asia. There are Chinese focused collectibles, and we’re looking at Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. China feels a bit difficult to get into, but we’ll see.

Considering new features like AR as a blockchain gaming company who really believes in the philosophy of decentralisation is tricky. If you walk your cat, should that be on a blockchain? When you have a kitty for a thousand years, we think that entire history – including any AR excursions – should be logged. But that’s not easy, and we can’t handle all of the transactions yet. But we are brainstorming a bunch of these new gaming features because that will help keep the experience interesting.

Digital in Asia: Thanks for your time Benny. This has been an interesting conversation. Any final words of advice?

Benny: Blockchain is only just getting started. Thanks again.

Asia’s Top 1000 Brands – Movers and Shakers

Campaign Asia has just released it’s annual Top 1000 brands survey, covering the biggest brands with Asian consumers, the brands that have risen and fallen furthest in the top 100 in the last year, plus the top 10 smartphone and social-media brands in Asia.

Biggest Movers in the Top 100

Biggest mover in the top 100 was Uniqlo, with other fashion retail brands, including Lazada, H&M and Zara, also having strong years.

0_500_750_0_100_campaign-asia_content_20180606084401-08_Up&Down

Top Social Media Brands

Congratulations to Facebook, still the clear leader in social media, and subsidiary brand Instagram also having a strong year, moving into the top 100.

0_500_750_0_100_campaign-asia_content_20180606084401-01_SocialMedia

Top Smartphone Brands

Apple is Asia’s top smartphone brand, with Samsung in second spot. Strong year for Huawei and Oppo, with big launches and large marketing budgets driving growth in brand perception.

0_500_750_0_100_campaign-asia_content_20180606085646-02_Smartphone

Asia’s top 5 car, airline, luxury, cosmetic, online retail, banking, beer, soft drinks, fast food and ice cream brands can be found in the slideshow below, and more info at Campaign Asia.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

SEA Digital Ad Spend to grow 13% in 2018

Digital ad spend in South East Asia is set to grow 13% in 2018, accounting for 21% of total regional media budget. That’s up from just 13% of regional ad budgets in 2015.

chart (4)

Growth will then slow to 5% YOY by 2020 as the market matures and digital hits a 25% share of total ad budgets in South East Asia.

chart (3)

Grab the spend data for yourself on the Digital in Asia public Google Sheets below:

2018 is “The Year of App” for World Cup marketing

From 14 June to 15 July, almost half of the world’s population – spanning all demographics, age groups, genders, political persuasions and income brackets – will divert its attention to the 32 hopefuls fighting it out for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

In the periphery, marketers will also engage in a battle of their own, with brands scrambling to ride the hype and global reach of the tournament to push effective campaigns.

While the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was marked by Social Media, the upcoming tournament in Russia is set to be the World Cup of Mobile. Internet penetration has grown from 42% to 55% since the last tournament, and mobile now makes up 73% of total internet consumption.

Tentpole sporting events are particularly suited to mobile app targeting, as sports fans are typically never far from their mobile devices, and a large portion of content related to the tournament will be consumed on a mobile device.

Live streaming has grown massively over recent years, to the extent that the 2018 Winter Olympics was live streamed by twice the people compared to 2014. In addition, 30% of fans stream sporting events on their mobile devices because it allows them to watch games and events “on their own terms”. Second screening in live sports is also huge – 80% of viewers use their mobile devices to search for player stats and to replay videos of key plays.

Beyond live streaming, several other app categories see uplifts during major sporting events:

A new App Annie reports covers everything brands and agencies need to know about mobile marketing during World Cup 2018.

The App Marketer’s Guide to the World Cup [White Paper]

Sales increase for 51% of online retailers in SEA and Taiwan over past year

Fashion is the biggest ecommerce category, while payment methods and delivery issues are the biggest concerns for online retailers and marketers in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, according to a new report from Econsultancy and Shopee exploring challenges and opportunities in ecommerce across the region.

The results revealed that 51% of online retailers and 41% of marketers saw their online sales rise, but for 28% of online retailers and 29% of marketers, online sales remained the same relative to the past year.

Fashion and accessories was the most popular category on online marketplaces, with 23% of online retailers and 16% of marketers active in it. Health and beauty was the second most popular category, with 17% of online retailers and 15% of marketers offering choices in it.

The survey also revealed that marketers in Vietnam (11%) were the most active in the computers, camera and mobile phones category, edging out Singapore (10%) and Taiwan (10%).

While around a third of online retailers (32%) and marketers (33%) indicated that they did not sell internationally and had no plans to, the ecommerce market in the region is poised to grow with 54% of online retailers and 39% of marketers planning to offer their wares and services to other countries.

Full report available for download here.

Myanmar Digital Trends 2018

Myanmar is going through a digital transformation. AdsMy, a local marketing tech platform, have produced a trends deck covering digital marketing and consumer behaviour for Myanmar in 2018. Programmatic, mobile, video, native and digital advertising are all highlighted as growth areas.

Myanmar is extremely hot with VC investment right now, built on the amazing speed of consumer growth in mobile and app usage.

Mobile App Predictions for 2018

[Photo] Jaede Tan, Regional Director, App Annie
Jaede Tan, Regional Director of App Annie
2018 marks the 10 year anniversary for both the Apple App Store and Android market. In the short time since the first wave of apps were published in 2008, they have impacted the lives of people all over the world on an unprecedented level. There are now apps for almost anything and everything – hugely successful apps that incorporate AR and VR, apps dedicated to events, and even an app just for popping bubble wrap.
Who could ever have imagined that apps would evolve from the simple Snake game on the Nokia phone (yes that was an app), to driving a $6.3 trillion industry in 2021?
Looking back over 2017, the app economy has hit some significant milestones:
  • By the end of October 2017, the iOS App Store and Google Play had more than 2 million and more than 3.5 million apps available, respectively.
  • New apps continue to be introduced at a strong pace. During the month ending October 31, 2017, roughly 50,000 new apps launched on the iOS App Store and over 150,000 were added to Google Play.
  • Across mature markets, users have up to 90 or 100 apps installed on their devices, 30 of which they use on a monthly basis. On average, people are spending two hours per day — which equates to one month out of every year — in apps.
  • More than 40 countries will generate over $100 million in consumer spend in 2017 for iOS App Store and Google Play combined.
  • Apps play a key role in almost every industry today, including retail, banking, travel, QSR, CPG and media & entertainment .

It is apparent that the evolution of mobile apps have transformed the everyday lives of people, and users continuously expect their favourite apps to be improved. There are several aspects of an app which users expect to be improved, but convenience is a core theme that underlies many of our predictions as we look to 2018.

1. Worldwide Gross Consumer App Store Spend Blows Past the $100 Billion Mark

The continued evolution of markets across the globe has led app monetization to continuously grow at an outstanding rate. Apart from games, which traditionally account for the majority of overall spend, we foresee spending in e-commerce apps such as Alibaba and Amazon to drive worldwide consumer spend – which is expected to grow about 30% year on year to exceed $110 billion in 2018. In APAC, consumer spend on apps hit $17.1 billion in H1 2017 alone.

2. App Store Curation Drives Higher Overall IAP Revenue and Expands Opportunity for Independent Publishers

In June 2017, both Apple and Google announced updates to the iOS App Store and Google Play aimed to alleviate this issue through app curation and editorial content. We predict that these updates will have a significant impact on apps in 2018, in particular apps that help people occupy their leisure time. These types of apps, which tend to be entertainment-centric, are most likely to connect with consumers when they are casually browsing through the app stores. Conversely, “needs-based” apps such as UberEats or DBS PayLah! are far more likely to be downloaded based on word of mouth recommendations or focused searches when a user encounters a particular need.

3. Broader Adoption of AR Apps

Pokémon GO and Snapchat sparked huge interest in augmented reality (AR) among the masses, and we foresee that AR will take another significant step forward towards realizing its massive potential in 2018.

Facebook, Google and Apple have taken the lead at their developer conferences in 2017, and together with the Chinese powerhouses Alibaba , Baidu and Tencent , have set the foundation for AR-related initiatives. These initiatives will accelerate the space by making it easier and faster for publishers to develop AR apps, while also stoking consumer interest. For example, in Japan, starting in May 2017, there has been a significant increase in iPhone app downloads for the top ranking apps by “Augmented Reality” app store search in Japan, and other APAC countries.

apps ar japan

4. Fragmentation of the Video Streaming Space Accelerates

It is now not an uncommon sight to see people catching up on their favourite Netflix series or Hollywood movies while on the move. 2017 has been another extraordinary year for video streaming services and total time spent in Video and Entertainment apps tripled to almost 40 billion hours in APAC alone.

video streaming apps

Between H1 2015 and H1 2017, time spent in the Video Players and Entertainment categories on Android phones in APAC has tripled to reach close to 40 billion hours – almost half of the worldwide total.

Year to date through October 31, 2017, these apps have driven significant growth of worldwide consumer spend for the Entertainment category on both iOS and Google Play. However, as some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and app economy — including Netflix , Apple , Google , Facebook , Snap and Disney — have announced huge plans to expand their footprints in variety of ways, we expect that 2018 to mark the beginning of an inflection point for this space, in terms of fragmentation. In fact, our research shows that Android users in South Korea who use video streaming apps are significantly more likely than average to be accessing other video and related entertainment services.

Overall, this space will continue to see steady growth in terms of revenue and engagement, but in the years that follow, consumers may start to rationalize how they spend their time and money among a dizzying array of choices, resulting in some players succumbing to profit pressures as they get crowded out of this competitive space.

5. Mobile Pushes Towards the Center of the Retail Customer Journey

Analysts and experts have pronounced the retail apocalypse in recent times, and we see apps as a way to reinvigorate consumers’ retail experience. Brick-and-mortar retailers have already embraced apps and shoppers are now very engaged; results are telling from the Great Singapore Sale 2017 , which saw an increase in sales thanks to the GoSpree app. In Indonesia, which has a population of 261 million and a burgeoning middle class, users spend an average of just over 90 minutes per month in Shopping apps, placing it at #2 after South Korea. On 11 November 2017, dubbed Single’s Day, Alibaba generated a record breaking $25.3 billion in sales, with mobile users accounting for 90% of sales. These numbers are only the beginning of what is a rapidly evolving retail experience for consumers.

Come 2018, apps will continue to cause consumers to change their shopping habits which will in turn redefine the relationship between and even the very nature of existing retail channels (e.g., mobile app, web, brick-and-mortar). China, for instance, is one huge influencer in this area. We are seeing people in western markets increasingly use physical stores as a place to pick up items purchased on mobile. In addition, cash registers’ longstanding role in the checkout and payment process will become reduced, or in some cases replaced, by mobile. For many consumers, mobile will be a core part of the shopping experience regardless of channel.

6. Restaurant Aggregators Drive Mobile Conversion as Delivery-as-a-Service Further Penetrates Premium Markets

As we predicted last year, there was some consolidation in the food delivery space. Looking ahead to next year, we expect that aggregators such as Korea’s Yogiyo will continue to expand the addressable market for this space by opening up under penetrated markets as well as converting users who do not currently use mobile apps from intermediaries to order meals. Meanwhile, delivery as a service (DaaS) providers (e.g., UberEATS , Deliveroo) will gain market share in premium markets where customers are more likely to pay more for higher-end restaurants that don’t have their own delivery fleets. Furthermore, we expect more quick-service restaurants (QSR) to respond to the increased competition from food delivery by partnering with DaaS apps, similar to McDonald’s growing partnership with UberEATS . As with video streaming, this space will face consolidation in later years as it needs to rationalize the fragmentation felt by customers and the profit pressures felt by service providers competing in a crowded space.

7. Finance-Related Apps Poised for Most Significant Transformation in 2018

In 2017 in Asia-Pacific specifically, the growth of downloads in the Finance category outpaced all app categories (non-games) combined, with China leading the way. Person-to-person (P2P) payment apps, like WeChat, AliPay, GoPay, Grab Pay and PayTM have been some of the shining stars in the fintech app revolution. They have transformed how consumers, particularly millennials, exchange money, by displacing the use of cash and checks. In the next year, we expect these services to capitalize on their popularity and broaden their range of services in an effort to expand their revenue potential, fend off increased competition from traditional banks and deepen user engagement. With retailers adopting such apps as an option for customers, we expect P2P payment apps to see increased transaction volume. These initiatives have been well received by users, as they will provide even greater levels of convenience. In addition, this space will see increased activity from successful players in other categories, like messaging and social networking, who are constantly looking for additional ways to serve, monetize and engage their large user bases.

These are just a handful of areas where we expect the app economy to evolve over the near future. Despite how far this space has advanced over its first decade, it is just scratching the surface of its full potential. Users increasingly expect apps to completely transform the very nature of how they accomplish goals and tasks, as well as create brand new experiences not possible on other platforms. We are excited to see how app developers change the world by delivering on these needs over the app economy’s second decade.

iKorea: Why Korea is Saying No to Programmatic

iKorea is a column by Soyoon Bach, a Digital Marketing professional in Seoul, covering developments in the Korean digital ecosystem.

Programmatic media buying is a powerful infant. While the technology itself is fairly new, it’s making strides globally. According to eMarketer, the programmatic market in the United States is projected to reach an estimated amount of 26.78 billion USD by the end of this year.

While North America is still by far the biggest programmatic market to date, Asia is quickly catching up and experiencing fast growth rates. Japan, Singapore, and Australia are leading the way as more mature programmatic markets in APAC. Korea is a big digital ad spender – the sixth largest in the world. However, programmatic buying is struggling to get its footing in the nation.

The estimated programmatic spend in Korea as of 2016 was around 141 million USD, which is far behind the billions spent in North America. Also, the definition of “programmatic transactions” is still murky; therefore, it’s unclear how much of that 141 million is truly programmatic. So why is this the case? How could one of the leaders of digital ad spending in Asia have resisted the strong programmatic current taking over the industry?

To understand this phenomenon, it’s important to take a look back through the history of Korea’s digital landscape. Since Yahoo! entered the domestic market in 1997, the digital ecosystem has largely been shaped and influenced by web portals, whereas web portals became fatally disrupted with the introduction of Google in North America. 1999 saw the birth of two web portals that still remain local titans – Daum and Naver. Dozens of other web portals competed for market share but Naver solidified its place at the top in 2003 and has maintained the position ever since. Daum come as a not-so-close second (the Bing to its Google if you may).

Naver is a formidable giant. The key difference between Google and Naver is that Google is a launching-off point. You start on Google and use it as a tool to help you get to where you need to go. Naver is different. It’s its own fully functioning ecosystem, equipped with search functions, blogs, cafes (communities), maps, ask sections, news, shopping, webtoons, music, real estate, finance, etc. You could access a mind-boggling amount of content without ever having to truly leave the platform. The experience is enclosed in comparison to Google’s openness.

Displaying Photo note

This is probably the biggest reason why programmatic is stunted in Korea. One of the reasons why programmatic is such a hit is because it makes it so much easier to sell and buy ad inventory. There were an estimated 1.82 billion active websites in the US in April 2017. Imagine advertisers having to shift through that many websites to decide which publisher’s inventory they want to purchase. It also makes it that much harder for publishers to manually sell their inventory. But when you put it into an automated system, such as programmatic media buying, it relieves the pressures of manually selling and buying.

However, Naver never has this problem. Many Koreans go to Naver to start web surfing and usually will stay within the platform for most, if not all, of their internet journey. Thus, advertisers will always go to Naver to buy inventory because they know that it’s guaranteed to be shown to a wide audience. Unlike Google, that has famously refused any form of disruptive ads on its search engine (e.g. banners and pop-ups), Naver allows ads to be shown on a variety of placements all throughout their portal. And it’s always in high demand.

Advertisers have to go through booking processes for most of the inventory, possibly facing hefty penalties for booking cancellations. They also have to adhere to strict rules set by Naver, be satisfied with simplistic reports that don’t reveal much, deal with the strict forbiddance of third-party tracking, etc. For Naver Timeboard, which guarantees your ads will be shown in the spot right under the main search engine for one hour, advertisers can pay up to 30,000 USD. FOR ONE HOUR.

Displaying Photo note

Advertisers grumble and moan but continually go back to Naver because that’s where their customers are. They can’t help but use it the way that most advertisers can’t avoid using Google for their search campaigns. You’re giving up too many impressions when you do. And because there’s such a high demand for their advertising space, sometimes requiring advertisers to book months in advance, they have absolutely no incentive to put their inventory out in a competitive marketplace. Daum has also followed in Naver’s footsteps.

So without Naver and Daum inventory, the marketplace for programmatic media buying just shrunk drastically, to a point where most advertisers don’t see the appeal of even bothering. Even with the appeal of more granular targeting options, more competitive pricing, and the ability to derive great insights about customer behavior, the lack of inventory is a huge barrier to entry.

However, Korea can’t stay this way forever. Global trends push for more transparency, more data, more precision and efficiency. High-tech Korean users are gravitating towards Google products and Korean branches of global agencies continue to feel pressure from abroad to start implementing programmatic practices. Programmatic technology platforms are arriving domestically in bulk. DCM, MediaMath, Adjust, Turn, Criteo, DataXu, and Rocket Fuel are just a couple of the players that are aiming to get in the market early.

It’s only a matter of time before the wall collapses and programmatic infiltrates the domestic market with full force. This leads to interesting questions that cannot yet be answered. How will powerhouses Naver and Daum react to this threat to their dominance? How will this change the Korean digital landscape and its heavy reliance on web portals to direct their internet activity? What strategies will Google utilize to take advantage of this situation? How will this push for transparency and an open web have ripple effects across other industries that have benefited from this enclosed ecosystem?

I think we’ll find out sooner than we think.

 

8 Mobile Trends for 2018

With Mobile quickly becoming the go to channel for brands, there is a quiet revolution happening in the world of marketing.  Mobile is growing up, and getting serious as it moves front and centre. Here are our top Mobile advertising trends in APAC for the year ahead.

1. Rise of the apps

App use is growing 22% year on year, driven by increased smartphone adoption. Consumers already spend more than 50% of their total digital media time in app. This promises to grow again in 2018.

2. Gaming is the new TV

With 27% of time on mobile devices spent gaming, mobile games are slowly replacing TV as the backdrop to everyday life. One of the biggest opportunities for brands in 2018 is leveraging mobile gaming as a high reach, context neutral environment, just like TV or UGC / Social Media.

3. Mobile video keeps on rolling

Mobile video advertising spend has grown by 63% in over 2017. And with 4 times as many consumers preferring video over static advertising, brands will continue to top up in 2018.

4. Mobile native creativity

As consumers spend a majority of their media time on mobile, expect mobile native interactive and vertical video formats and functionality to move front and centre. Marketers will make more use of mobile capabilities to engage consumers in 2018.

5. Consumer choice and permission based advertising

With the rise of subscription media like Netflix, and increased adoption of ad blockers, consumers have more choice over their exposure to ads. Rewarded ads on mobile get 68% approval ratings from consumers, compared to only 20% who approve of pre-roll.

6. Mobile only consumers

With 65% of consumers in emerging markets already mobile only, and those in developed economies very much mobile first, the next generation may never experience the internet the way we do. Avid voice searchers, and heavy app users who avoid the desktop, they will see the world in a whole new way.

7. Mobile brand safety tracking and viewability grows up

Mobile devices are personal, so it’s even more crucial that advertising is delivered in a way that works for both advertisers and customers. Brand safety and viewability measurement will drive increased scrutiny of media investment, and a cleaner advertising experience for consumers.

8. Programmatic growth

Advertising spend is shifting fast to programmatic, and even faster from desktop to mobile. With mobile video set to account for 28% of ALL ad spend by 2019 it’s time to get on the mobile programmatic train.