3 Things to Know: The Southeast Asian App Market | AppsFlyer
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3 Things You Need to Know About the Southeast Asian App Market

Alon Chicorel Mar 01, 2018

When people think of Southeast Asia, they think white sandy beaches, spicy food, and eternal sunshine. While they are mostly true except for rainy season that lasts months at a time, it is an extremely exciting region not only for vacationers but also marketers and developers. The region boasts mobile users who spend the most time on their phone globally. If we already have all their eyeballs, the logical next question is, how do we generate revenue?

Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Philippines are all projected to experience double digit growth in digital ad expenditures through to 2020, while mobile ad spend is expected to more than double in the same period.

mobile ad spend in southeast asia

Before you start booking your next work vacation and drawing up your marketing plans for the region, we have identified some pointers that could help you better ride this incredible wave.

1) Try to refrain from looking at Southeast Asia as one big market

Over the years, foreign marketers have moved passed looking at Asia as a collective market, but still fall into the same trap when looking at Southeast Asia. Many marketers look at Southeast Asia and think the similar strategies apply for all countries across the region, but truth is that apart from its geographical proximity, the countries cannot be more different.

  • Religious and cultural differences: Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, the Philippines has more Catholics than the US, while Thailand and Vietnam are predominantly Buddhist. Understanding the main festivities and shopping behaviors go a long way to mapping your media plan for the country. You will realize that almost nothing overlaps, and peak season for one country very likely coincides with low season in another.
  • Mobile spending behavior: On paper, the GDP per capita of Singapore is over 20 time that of Vietnam, but Vietnam leads the pack in the region, and ranks No.7 globally in share of buying users, and No.7 in ARPU Per User, way ahead of any other countries in the region. (check out The State of Gaming App Marketing for more.)
  • Business opportunities: Southeast Asia boasts countries with core strengths in different verticals, talent and support from the private and public sector. Vietnam is a gamer’s nation, home to the region’s largest game studios and community of indie game developers. Indonesia, due to its large scale is home to the region’s largest eCommerce companies, and continues to grow at neck breaking pace. Singapore has long utilized its strong historical background as the financial hub of the region and proximity to neighboring countries to attract global executive talents.

2) Mix up your media sources

Southeast Asia’s media sources are as diverse as its countries. While there are quite a few global players that have traditionally performed well, many marketers find it most effective to mix and match their media sources across different countries and verticals to suit their media strategy. Global and regional networks usually have the most advanced targeting, platforms, and support. Marketers in the region find these larger networks best for always on campaigns.

Local networks have varying degrees of volume but can be very effective in certain markets in targeting clients for installs through cashback apps, messenger apps, or utility apps to name a few. Thirdly, many marketers have also found success in direct publishers. In many cases direct publishers can be very cost effective when tied in with offline campaigns with a wide reaching audience.  

3) Keep an open mind and experiment

Lastly, be adventurous and play around with different ad formats, tools and strategies. Most of the markets in Southeast Asia are too young to have any tested and proven methods. Here are some things that would help you to scale and experiment efficiently:

  • Mobile app and alerts: If you plan to be in Jakarta or Bangkok, you will be spending most of your time in traffic. For those optimization and monitoring on the go, make sure your tools and dashboards can be easily accessed from a mobile device
  • Segmentation: Many affiliates and smaller networks in the region do not have advanced segmenting and targeting capabilities. That’s why it’s important to take things into your own hands and segment your users with other segmentation tools (i.e. from your attribution provider, DMP etc.).
  • Deep Linking: Running campaigns on a billboard, an interactive screen in a mall, or wrapped around the skytrain, and not sure if the user is on iOS, or Android, or if they already have your app or not? A single smart link with deep linking and deferred deep linking capabilities optimizes the user journey for every one of these scenarios, ensuring your users get a contextually relevant experience connecting the promotion to your app.