One billion is a lot of anything. A billion dollars: thank you very much. A billion stars in the sky: awesome. A billion grains of sand: a very large beach. So, now there are one billion internet users in Asia Pacific.
That’s the headline from the sixth edition of the Asia Digital Marketing Yearbook, published by the industry group I head called the Asia Digital Marketing Association (ADMA). You can download the Yearbook PDF free at www.asiadigitalmarketingyearbook.com
46% of the world’s online population is in Asia Pacific: 1.016 billion people, of whom 623 million access the web via mobile. Although this enormous and growing addressable market seems to hold boundless business potential for marketers, the reality is more complicated — and more interesting. The headline one billion user number is made up of hundreds of thousands of communities of users, spread across a wide variety of devices and platforms, languages and cultures, and who use the web in a profusion of different ways.
It’s time for marketers to get local and get personal. The implications and opportunities are far-reaching:
• Social media continues to gain in importance, but brands have to proceed with caution. Although 60% of social networkers say that social networks are a good place to learn about brands, 50% also say they don’t want to be bothered by brands.
• As in past years, people still put the most trust in recommendations from friends and family over all other media channels (with 52% of users in Asia Pacific trusting friends and family completely as compared with newspaper and magazine ads at 14%).
• Social commerce is on the rise, and marketers can deploy sophisticated, personalized approaches, depending on where they are in the sales funnel, to build brand awareness and understanding, create brand preference, make sales, and do CRM.
• Search remains vital to helping customers find your brand and for you to find your audience. With crowd-sourced curation of content, natural search rises in importance and complexity, and paid search is still effective for driving “last click” results. Search/navigation properties in the region have 84.7% reach
• Despite the rise of social media and user-generated content, paid, owned and earned media all continue to play important roles in achieving marketing goals.
• Although in this fragmented environment marketers must work harder to understand and find their target customers, analytics, behavioral targeting and big data are providing more and more powerful tools for marketers to reach and engage with internet users in personalized ways.
The billion people online in Asia Pacific are spread across more than 14 countries, with a wide range of languages, cultures and online habits. More than half of them (513 million) are in China, which has its own media properties and consumer dynamics. In fact, seven of the top eleven sites in the region are in China. Across the rest of Asia Pacific there is remarkable diversity; the way people use the web and interact with content and with one another differs significantly from Australia, to Korea, to Indonesia, to India.
With such a profusion of content, the primary ways to make sense of the overwhelming amount of data, opinions and options are to make it as easy as possible to connect with like-minded users (social media), and to find and be found (search).
Social media platforms have been a strong force to help bring together fragmented media. Content from every site and source is shared both widely and in targeted ways via microblogs.
Twitter globally has become a red thread running throughout the web, and in China, QQ, Pengyou and Sina Weibo have become major forces. More than 300 million users post 100 million comments and messages every day on Sina Weibo. Social networking sites have 72.2% reach across the region, and hundreds of millions of people connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, Cyworld (Korea), Mixi (Japan), Qzone, Ren Ren, Kaixin (China) and other localized equivalents.
And in search Google and Baidu and Bing and Yahoo are helping users and marketers to find the content and audiences they are seeking online.
The clear takeaway from the Yearbook statistics for Bite and our clients is that we need to make Search and Social a core part of our integrated marketing communications campaigns. As we help clients join communities and conversations, and create compelling content, Search and Social are powerful threads to pull together the fragmentation across many media channels, and to engage with relevant audiences wherever they are, whatever device they are on, and whatever language they speak.