Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Survey 2008

There has been a rather heated debate regarding an article on Marketing-Interactive titled “Reality check for mobile and social media“. I tried to get hold of a soft copy of the survey from Asia Digital Marketing Association’s website but failed. Thanks to Peter Steyn, from Aha! Research – the firm who conducted the survey, i have one now.

I am not going into details about the debate or interpretation of the findings from the survey. What i intend to do is to look at the raw data and try to interpret the data on my own just like what i did with Future Tense: The global CMO report from Economist Intelligence Unit.

Please note that this is, by no means, to show my disapproval of the author/reporter findings/conclusions because i am sure that i will agree with many of the findings from the survey myself. This is merely the way i like to look at report.

The companies

There are no companies…well just kidding!

One main point to take note about this survey is that it was done at an individual level, not corporation level hence multiple individuals from the same corporation may participate in this.
The sample definition was described as “Individuals with an interest in marketing activities in Asia Pacific”

51% of these companies have annual marketing and advertising spend in Asia Pac (excluding Japan) of US$ 1 mil or less.
26% of respondents don’t know their company annual marketing/advertising spend.

59% of these companies employ less than 250 people in Asia Pac (excluding Japan).
There are, however, 44% of these companies who have less than 100 employee.

The Respondents…

40% coming from the agency side and an equal percentage from advertisers side. The rest are from Media Owner side or others. So pretty much all parties involved have a say.
Most of the respondents, however, are from Singapore and Hong Kong. Virtually none are from markets like Australia, China, India, Korea or Taiwan.
They are mostly in Marketing, management or biz dev role (87%).

Because of the respondent profile, i have to say the findings from this survey will be more applicable to Southeast Asia and Hong Kong only. It can’t be treated as findings for Asia Pac region.
While i appreciate that many regional HQs are in Singapore and Hong Kong, the size of these companies, number of people employed in Asia Pac, annual marketing/advertising spend make it hard to generalize the findings beyond Southeast Asia and Hong Kong only.

The Findings…

Overall, the findings are pretty much in line with what i feel about the market condition at the moment.
(I base in Singapore and work more closely with clients/agencies based in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and China).

Percentage spend on Digital Marketing in general is increasing amidst the financial crisis. In fact, because of the current financial crisis, companies/agencies are forced to look at alternative ways to get more bang for their buck and hence the greater emphasis on digital marketing.

The greatest barrier to the increased spending on digital is again understanding of the medium/options and education. Digital Marketing is newer than traditional media and as a result the number of professionals working in Online industry is quite limited. This is hardly new to us though. Yet it’s something that has lasted way too long. Going into detailed explanation or solution to this problem is beyond the scope of this post but i may come back later to this topic.


I am totally taken by surprise when the survey reveals that Search Engine Optimization received more time, effort and budget in 2008 compared to Paid Search or Search Engine Advertising (the term used in the survey).
Also Banner Advertising only ranks number 10 in the list, way below email marketing, e-newsletters, SEO, PPC, Viral campaigns, etc… even Social Network advertising.

Professionally, i would seriously doubt that the budget for Search Engine Marketing has surpassed Banner Advertising/Other Online Branding effort in 2008 for big corporations in Asia Pac. Besides, Banner ads certainly should get more budget than Social Network advertising. Unless i missed out some vitally important point here but the adoption rate for Social Network advertising is still very low amongst agencies and even big corporations.
It even more confusing when respondents were asked about Corporate blogging. Nearly 70% does not currently maintain a corporate blog. If this is the case, how much effort their corporation could actually spend on social media, viral marketing in 2008?

When asked about “How important do you think each of the following digital marketing strategies or campaigns will be for marketers over the next 12 months“, good corporate website, Search Engine Optimization and behavioral targeting are amongst the top 3. Again, i seriously doubt this because of:

  • 40% of the respondents are supposed to be from agency side and there are just not many agencies out there in Singapore/HK have capability in Search Engine Optimization or SEO
  • 10% of the respondents are from Media owner side and i am doubtful that they would recommend SEO as one of the top strategies.
  • Email marketing ranks below both SEO and Paid Search! We all know that harnessing the current customer database/sales lead is one of the most effective way because the recipients ALREADY use the products/services so for Email marketing to rank number 7 on the list, it raises some serious questions
  • What exactly is the definition of Behavioural targeting in the survey context? Did all respondents share the same understanding/definition of Behavioural targeting?

I include below the screenshot for the ease of reference.

different digital media strategies in order of importance in 2009

Holistic Approach to Marketing

Lastly, it’s not surprised to learn that the majority of advertisers have several agencies and vendors for online and offline marketing. 36% have the same agency for both Online and Offline initiatives. However, adopting holistic approach to Online marketing alone or the synchronization of both Online/Offline initiatives (including tracking/measurement) is still a big challenge in the region for both advertisers and agencies.
This issue, nevertheless, is fairly complex and not easy to solve.

Most advertisers book/run Online campaigns on a CPC or CPM basis with media owners highly prefer CPM pricing model.

That’s pretty much what i have for the time being. I understand that the way i interpret the findings of this survey may be very different from some of you. So please feel free to share your thoughts/comments via emailing to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.