In recent years, the volume of traditional advertising has been matched by digital advertising. In fact, in 2023, Southeast Asia saw digital advertising rise to 51% and is purported to rise to substantially higher figures in the preceding years. Much of digital advertising takes place programmatically, but regardless of the medium, the Southeast Asian GEO (SEA) has grown to a degree where its impact can no longer be ignored.
As we will show throughout this short article, affiliate marketers have only to tap into this GEO to see a gradual rise in their ROI.
As a quick overview, this market covers the following countries: Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Overview of Southeast Asian market 🌏
There are good reasons why advertisers should pay attention to this region, and it can be summed up quickly. The population is 11 million shy of 700 million (8.58% of the planet's population); of this vast number, about 50% are surfing the web. That’s a happy hunting ground if ever there was such a thing!
The top markets for this particular GEO include eCommerce, of which drinks, fashion, furniture, toys and DIY, beauty, food, media, and electronics are all predominant in terms of the traffic they get. Electronics is, the largest of all, as of now. The second largest is the beauty, health, and household care industries (that’s all one big thing!)
📊 Lastly, at TrafficStars we provide a large volume of daily impressions in this region. Care to guess the number? 500 million.
The top 3 performing SEA countries are Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, and they are up there with the fastest-growing markets. With a population of 277.1 million, the predominant language is Indonesian, and the advertising market size is as high as $2.25 billion.
With over 70% of Indonesians under 30 immersed in digital content, brands strategically allocate substantial budgets to craft visually appealing and culturally relevant ads, tapping into this vibrant youth market.
Out of the overall traffic, almost 70% of it originates from mobile traffic, with mobile video ads being the most effective ad format. When it comes to the products, these are the most widely purchased: Shoes, accessories, Clothes, and Handbags.
🔤 At TrafficStars, we also have an Auto-translation tool that includes Indonesian and Vietnamese languages. This is useful for translating your creatives to fit the bill in other regions. But it’s worth checking the final translation with a professional to optimize it and ensure accuracy.
Local payment methods: These are versatile in Indonesia, but generally, the population prefers methods with free shipping.
💡 The digital advertising market budget in Indonesia is twice that of Thailand.
In the Philippines, the predominant languages are English and Filipino, the latter being a derivation of Tagalog. Thus, advertisers can use either of these languages in their ad creatives. Bear in mind, that these are the two most commonly used languages and that there are many others. If you wish to target a particular subset of the region, look into it and use the correct language for a greater chance of conversion.
Gambling in the Philippines has become a national phenomenon and an enticing destination for gamers from around the world. The gambling industry there is developing at such a rapid pace that the Philippine market is competing with Macau and Singapore to become the focal point of Asia's gaming scene.
iGaming, Nutra, financial offers, and sweepstakes are dominant verticals in this region.
Local Payment Methods: Cash is the most preferred payment method, but online card payments are also widely used.
💡 The Philippines has the longest Christmas season in the world, making it ideal for your Christmas-themed offers.
The potential for digital advertising has grown exponentially in Thailand in recent years. 2021 saw 1 million additional users start shopping online through Amazon, Central, Shopee, and other online retail establishments. Mobile devices are more dominant than desktop and tablet mediums (as usual), and over 52% of online transactions are done through mobile devices.
Navigating Thai culture in advertising demands a nuanced approach. Advertisers should respect traditions and symbols, incorporating them thoughtfully to avoid cultural missteps. For instance, utilizing this gesture 🙏 in a respectful context can convey cultural understanding. Colors play a significant role, and an advertiser could, for example, use yellow 🟡, associated with the monarchy, with care and reverence. Genuinely highlighting family values, as seen in campaigns like Tesco Lotus , fosters positive connections. Additionally, steering clear of taboos, such as avoiding any content critical of the monarchy, ensures cultural sensitivity. Ultimately, successful integration involves a deep understanding of cultural nuances, fostering authenticity and connection with the Thai audience.
Local Payment Methods: Popular local payments in Thailand include E-wallets, which are fueled by cashback and loyalty programs. Among the leading mobile wallet brands are True Money, Rabbit Line Pay, and AirPay.
💡 The bustling Thai market is owed largely to the pandemic, which resulted in businesses turning to digital means. In its infancy, this market is sure to grow.
The mother tongue of Malaysia is Malay or Bahasa Malaysia, but English is increasingly taught as a second language. The digital market for advertising is also on the rise, with an overall spending of over 700 million. The currency they use is Malaysian ringgit (MYR).
During 2020 and 2021, this region increased its advertising spending by 40% and is expected to reach 80% by 2025. 75% of the residents buy their services and products online, and as is the case with most regions listed here, the mobile medium trumps all.
A great deal of the Malaysian population speaks English and lives mostly in large cities, the richest of which are Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sabah, and Sarawak.
Local Payment Methods: Cash payments are the highest reported payment method, but bank transfers come in at a close second.
E-Wallet Boom: Indonesia's digital advertising landscape has been influenced by the widespread adoption of e-wallets like GoPay and OVO. These platforms not only dominate the payment scene but also serve as hotspots for targeted digital marketing.
💡 73% of digital advertising revenue is expected to be made via programmatic advertising by 2028.
With a population of almost 100 million, Vietnam is a great hunting ground for advertisers. With a booming economy and a user base not yet saturated by ads, traditional approaches remain effective, emphasizing the importance of localized ad creatives. Advertisers should integrate traditions and symbols respectfully, like incorporating the iconic "ao dai" or the conical hat. Thoughtful use of colors, such as red for luck, enhances cultural appeal. Campaigns like "Vinamilk" showcase the effectiveness of emphasizing family values. Advertisers must steer clear of political sensitivities. As Internet users increase, the market is experiencing significant growth, with a projected 10% year-on-year increase in programmatic advertising spending.
Notably, advertising spending has surged by 33% in the past year, with food, electronics, beauty products, and financial offers dominating the landscape. Leveraging popular communication apps like Whatsapp, Wechat, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and Line is crucial, as they play a vital role in connecting with the Vietnamese audience. These platforms serve as effective tools for building trust and engagement, especially during periods of social distancing. For affiliate marketers eyeing the Vietnamese market, understanding these trends and tailoring strategies accordingly is key to success in this burgeoning digital landscape.
Local Payment Methods:
Vietnam has seen a surge in online transactions in recent years and now, several popular payment methods dominate the digital landscape. E-wallets such as MoMo and ZaloPay are widely embraced for their convenience and security. Additionally, credit and debit cards, particularly Visa and Mastercard, are commonly used for online purchases. The Cash-on-Delivery (COD) method remains prevalent, allowing customers to pay in cash upon receiving their orders, catering to those who prefer traditional payment options.
💡 The main mode of transportation in Vietnam is the motorbike. This could be a good tip for your advertising endeavors!
Until recent years, it was thought that Cambodia was not worth investing creatives into. But like others listed here, it has seen a rapid increase in internet users. It had 11.3 million users at the beginning of 2023, and that’s with an internet penetration of 67%.
While English is widely spoken there, you will catch more impressions by using the native language of Khmer.
As for the best verticals, these include Nutra, eCommerce, mobile utilities, and webcam.
Local Payment Methods: Letters of credit are the most preferred payment method.
💡 The largest market in Cambodia with a volume of $37.5 million USD is Search Advertising.
Singapore is a high-income region. It is made up for the fact that it has the third-highest average salary in the world ($4k per month). In short, many residents have higher disposable incomes and thus, may be more ready-set to purchase your client’s products and services.
Most Singaporeans shop with a mobile device, but remember also that the number of Singaporeans that make them with laptops, desktops, and tablets is substantial too.
Local Payment Methods: Card payments are the most commonly used payment method in Singapore, with over 7 million of them in circulation in the region.
💡 Singapore boasts a global top-tier smartphone penetration rate, with over 90% of its population owning a smartphone.
Webcam is a non-mainstream vertical that can be highly profitable, due to the large potential for impressions. In the link, you will see how our advertisers have made terrific ROIs, through various ad formats. Apply these mechanics to your creatives in the SEA region, following the intricacies of each region, and you can do well.
Dating is another of our top-performing verticals, which is also universal in its popularity. In Southeast Asia, particularly in Muslim-majority nations like Indonesia and Malaysia, the dating scene is shaped by a more conservative approach, guided by adherence to Islamic principles. The cultural norms prioritize modesty and respect, influencing the way individuals navigate relationships. Despite these conservative dynamics, the Online Dating market in the region is experiencing significant growth, with projections indicating a substantial revenue boost, reaching an estimated USD 58 Million by 2024. This surge highlights a fascinating juxtaposition between traditional values and the modern, tech-driven avenues people are increasingly exploring to connect with potential partners.
Across Southeast Asia, online gambling is witnessing a significant surge in popularity, notably in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia where there is a strong demand for this form of entertainment. The Philippines boasts the most dynamic gaming market in the region, poised to surpass Singapore in gross gaming revenue as early as this year. Meanwhile, Thailand maintains strict prohibitions against gambling activities. Moreover, the Online Gambling market is anticipated to witness a substantial increase in its user base, with projections indicating a surge to 6.5 million users by the year 2028.
The market for Nutra and health supplements is on the rise in Southeast Asia, particularly for cash-on-delivery (COD) products, and advertisers can see great returns there. Singapore is witnessing a surge in demand for nutraceuticals, driven by its growing cosmopolitan culture. In Malaysia, urban lifestyle changes are contributing to the vertical's growth. Indonesians favor supplements made with local ingredients, with fortified beverages emerging as the top choice in this market. Thailand, traditionally Buddhist, is undergoing transformation with the Westernization of lifestyles, leading to a high popularity of weight management supplement products.
In SEA, eCommerce is one of the most prominent verticals. Ad spending is purported to rise as high as $300 billion within the next two years, which is triple what it was in 2020. This means it could begin outperforming the UK and USA. In Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, and Vietnam, it is widely engaged.
Top Ad Formats
Out of all the available ad formats, mobile popunder and native advertising are best suited for affiliate marketers and those who want to launch effective ads quickly. The video format is an ideal option for product owners, as it greatly impacts indirect sales and the growth of organic traffic.
In order of most effective, here is the list of ad formats suitable for the South East Asian GEO.
In review, the SEA GEO sees a lot of internet activity and consequently has a broad potential for advertisers to reach their target market.
Also, there is a high percentage of mobile traffic, which has been steadily growing for a while. In tandem with the sheer number of the population that owns smartphones, this is a great opportunity for direct advertisers and affiliate marketers to make profits with a high ROI.
As marketers, we must ensure that we bear in mind the mechanics of each region to build the best creatives. For example, in Malaysia pigs and dogs are associated with non-Malaysians, wearing yellow is a criminal offense, and they don’t like the numbers 4 and 13. Consequently, you should avoid including these things in your creatives.
Certain regions have these rules, and it’s important to check up on them before you begin building your adverts. Equally, certain verticals are more impactful than others and it’s just as vital to study this too.
But if you do the requisite research, understand the market, and put your all into identifying with your target demographic, then you stand the highest chance of landing conversions and gaining a higher ROI.
📊 We provide over 500 million daily impressions in this GEO.