As one of the globe’s fastest-growing regions when it comes to online consumer behaviour, markets within South-east Asia are also fast becoming the target of leading organisations across many different industries. With COVID-19 accelerating these trends over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a significant change in digital trends and how consumers across South-east Asia interact online.

In this article, we explore some of the digital trends impacting various markets in South-east Asia for 2021 and provide you practical tips on how you can leverage these trends to maximise your organisation’s digital performance and budgets.

A little about the countries within South-east Asia

6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - SEA population

Despite the varying sizes and median ages of different countries within South-east Asia, overall there is a relatively similar gender split between the different markets meaning that marketers and advertisers will need to ensure their campaigns are appropriately personalised to each different audience segment. This can be achieved in the Google Marketing Platform in a number of different ways including use of first-party cookies for remarketing lists in combination with free Google audiences that are also available in the media stack.

There has been growth of 9.6% in internet users across the entire South-east Asia region over the last year

6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - Internet use

Digital Trends in South-East Asia for 2021

As part of the research conducted by We Are Social & Hootsuite within the Digital 2021 report, there were a number of key behaviours and digital trends identified globally that markets within South-east Asia both ranked high for and had significant percentages of the 16-64 age bracket engaged in.

Indonesia

  • Streaming TV content over the internet (59.6%)
  • Playing video games  (94.5%)
  • Concerns about misuse of personal data (37.1%)
  • Use of ad blockers (56.8%)
  • Significant use of social media platforms (3hrs 14 mins on average daily)
  • Use of video calling services on mobile (56.5%)
  • Use of QR codes (42.0%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (87.1%), particularly on mobile (79.1%) (global leader)
  • Research products online before making a purchase (73.9%)
6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - Indonesia

Thailand

6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - Thailand

  • Streaming TV content over the internet (60.8%)
  • Playing video games (96.6%) (global leader)
  • Concerns about misuse of personal data (26.2%)
  • Use of ad blockers (40.0%)
  • Significant use of social media platforms (2hrs 48mins on average daily)
  • Use of video calling services on mobile (50.0%)
  • Use of QR codes (60.4%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (83.6%), particularly on mobile (74.2%)
  • Research products online before making a purchase (58.5%)

Singapore

  • Streaming TV content over the internet (60.1%)
  • Playing video games (81.8%)
  • Concerns about misinformation and ‘fake news’ (65.2%)
  • Concerns about misuse of personal data (40.1%)
  • Use of ad blockers (41.3%)
  • Significant use of social media platforms (2hrs 17mins on average daily)
  • Use of video calling services on mobile (49.8%)
  • Use of QR codes (79.0%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (79.7%), particularly on mobile (56.9%)
  • Research products online before making a purchase (59.8%)
6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - Singapore

Vietnam

6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - Vietnam

  • Streaming TV content over the internet (59.0%)
  • Playing video games (92.1%)
  • Concerns about misuse of personal data (31.8%)
  • Use of ad blockers (34.7%)
  • Significant use of social media platforms (2hrs 21mins on average daily)
  • Use of video calling services on mobile (56.2%)
  • Use of QR codes (45.6%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (82.9%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (78.7%), particularly on mobile (61.4%)
  • Research products online before making a purchase (56.5%)

Malaysia

  • Streaming TV content over the internet (61.1%)
  • Playing video games (88.9%)
  • Concerns about misinformation and ‘fake news’ (62.8%)
  • Concerns about misuse of personal data (36.1%)
  • Use of ad blockers (49.0%)
  • Significant use of social media platforms (3hrs 1min on average daily)
  • Use of video calling services on mobile (50.3%)
  • Use of QR codes (76.9%), particularly on mobile (68.4%)
  • Research products online before making a purchase (68.2%)
6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - Malaysia

Philippines

6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - Philippines

  • Streaming TV content over the internet (77.1%)
  • Playing video games (95.8%)
  • Concerns about misinformation and ‘fake news’ (57.2%)
  • Concerns about misuse of personal data (38.2%)
  • Use of ad blockers (45.3%)
  • Significant use of social media platforms (4hrs 15mins on average daily) (global leader)
  • Use of video calling services on mobile (69.8%) (global leader)
  • Use of QR codes (46.8%)
  • Adoption of eCommerce buying (80.2%), particularly on mobile (69.6%)
  • Research products online before making a purchase (74.1%) (global leader)

6 tips for leveraging digital marketing trends across South-East Asia for 2021

1. Target more streaming service-based inventory for your digital advertising

FiveStones recent article on the explosion of streaming services in APAC identified that use of streaming services has significantly grown in the wider region but specifically within South-east Asia. In fact, “compared to regular YouTube users, YouTube Enthusiasts (or those that spend more than 10 hours a week on YouTube)  in SEA are 87% more likely to subscribe to video-on-demand (VOD) services and 75% more likely to subscribe to music streaming services” (Think With Google).

Even more so, this trend has been seen in the Chinese market reaching 16.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, highlighting a specific opportunity for the South-east Asia travel industry (once border restrictions ease) which heavily targets China.

The Google Marketing Platform’s DV360 allows advertisers to consolidate their buying of streaming service inventory (including YouTube and CTV) with all of their other digital media buying which is important given “integrated campaigns are 31% more effective than non-integrated campaigns.”

Read more about the explosion of streaming services in APAC >Learn more about DV360 with FiveStones >

“47% of brands are looking to increase OTT spend in Southeast Asia between 10% to 20% through May 2021”

2. Leverage search campaigns to reach consumers when they are researching for products

There is plenty of research that backs up the use of paid search particularly when prospects are researching products including “88% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week” and “76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.”

Importantly, when you think about where paid search fits within the customer journey, the prospect will be in the consideration or intent stage, showing a certain level of intent in what they search for, this is why organisations should look at targeting different paid search ads based on the intent shown within the keyword that is searched. 

With the stats showing that consumers likely visit a business within a day of searching nearby, a possible strategy could be to offer discount vouchers for buying online to entice immediate action or if your online & offline data are connected, retarget these types of prospects for a given period after the search until a purchase (either online or in-store) is made, also highlighting the importance of connecting your online & offline data.

“76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase”

3. Provide a clear value exchange with users for their data

According to the latest research from Google & the Boston Consulting Group, leading organisations are shifting their focus towards building strong and impactful first-party data with the impending demise of the third-party cookie.

As we explored in our recent webinars, 47% of consumers would sacrifice privacy to get a better deal (according to Pew Research Centre) which means that if you provide the right type and amount of value, consumers are more than happy to provide access and permission to use their data. As the research goes into detail about, first-party data best practice means personalisation at all points in the shopping journey and relevant ads which leads to a positive impact on business metrics for the brand.

4. Invest in your website, app and online store to provide an easy, seamless experience for consumers

With such a major shift in buying online within the South-east Asia region, you need to ensure that you are appropriately investing in your website, app, online store and overall digital experience. A recent article from Think With Google has shown that in South-east Asia, 55% of consumers prefer to engage on brand.com websites along with 72% preferring to engage with brands through apps. While the answer will be different by industry and organisation, it is important to understand your target audience to give yourself the best chance to be successful with questions like, where and how do my target audience spend their time or how would they like to be engaged by our brand and/or products. 

6 tips for leveraging digital trends across South-East Asia for 2021 - COVID trends

In fact, some organisations and industries have actually found there is no longer a need for ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, this will not be the case in all industries but once you know how to connect with your target audience, your organisation can allocate budgets accordingly.

When looking to invest in their website or online store, many leading organisations are focusing on areas such as Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) to make the online experience and buying process as easy as possible for the consumer to reduce buying friction while online. Importantly, FiveStones provides project support and licenses for some of the leading CRO platforms in the industry, Google Optimize (free), Optimize 360 and AB Tasty, get in touch with the FiveStones team now to discuss your CRO needs.

5. When implementing display campaigns ensure you’re ads are appearing next to trusted content sources

With such high concerns about misinformation and ‘fake news’ in many of the South-east Asia markets, it is crucial marketers and advertisers across SEA take this into account when implementing their campaigns. Research from DoubleVerify and Harris Poll (2019) has reinforced this with “87% feel(ing) that brands bear responsibility for ensuring their ads run beside content that is safe” and “61% say both the brand and the publication/outlet where the ad is placed are equally responsible for ensuring content is safe.” In fact, the same research also highlighted that 65% of consumers (globally not just in SEA) would be likely to stop using the brand or product if they viewed the brand’s digital ad next to false or inflammatory content.

While Display & Video 360 (DV360) and the Google Marketing Platform have effective features in place to protect and control where and when your digital ads appear on the web, connecting with additional third-party verification platforms such as DoubleVerify or Integral Ad Science can provide additional functionality and security to ensure that your ad budgets and brand are protected, appearing next to trusted content sources across the web.

6. Use QR codes as part of your offline marketing activities to bring your prospects online

With the widespread use of QR codes across the South-east Asia region, QR codes are an effective method for bringing your prospects online. Specifically, it provides an option to create more granular tracking on typically less measurable channels such as Out-of-Home (OOH) and can be as simple as adding a UTM tagged link to the QR code you are promoting which can be tracked through Google Analytics.

Conclusion

With a number of global digital trends, including content streaming, use of personal data, eCommerce adoption among others, having a particularly strong impact in South-east Asia, these trends are expected to continue into the future. Therefore, leading organisations can leverage the 6 tips discussed in this article to take advantage of these trends, better leverage their digital activities and achieve better performance from their budgets within the region.

For support on any of the trends discussed above or more information about how you can use the Google Marketing Platform to leverage these trends in your advertising mix, contact the experts at FiveStones today.