With the fastest growing online audience in Southeast Asia, digital is booming in the Philippines- but the real growth is yet to come. Around 70% of Filipinos still don’t have access to the internet- that’s roughly 70 million people who can’t still be reached digitally.
It’s no coincidence that Internet.org, the project led by Mark Zuckerberg is using Philippines as one of the starting countries. This non-profit project is trying to bring the Internet to large D+E populations who don’t have it yet.
For marketers, Philippines consumers present a different challenge to many of their Asian neighbours, such as Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia.
The Philippine audience is becoming ever-more digitally savvy, with some of the worlds highest social media engagement rates. Yet with smartphone penetration at 15% in 2013, Filipino users tend to be less active on their devices than in the region’s more developed countries. A major factor explaining this might be the fact that 96% of the mobile phone lines are pre pay. What’s more, despite major upgrades to the country’s digital infrastructure, around 70% of the country still has no access to the web.
Chart Source: Nielsen September 2013
Marketers need to think about the potential of feature phones and SMS. The mobile offers a great way for marketers to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world and you don’t have to rely on the latest, most sophisticated smartphones to engage your audience. Why not think about the options that can be offered by shortcodes text back response, SMS, Interactive Voice Response and automated outbound dialling?
The challenge for marketers is to understand the local nuances that drive the eleventh largest economy in the world. A recent study from Nielsen found that ads that make the greatest impact with Philippine audiences used real-life situations, while ads that were value and family oriented, and humorous also fared well. Meanwhile, young people with increasing levels of disposable income are a key target market for many digital technologies and services.
One key barrier is that most brands still consider digital marketing as separate from traditional marketing. As such, most companies are failing to add online and social media channels in communicating their messages, missing a big opportunity to deliver holistic, impactful campaigns to a diverse Philippine audience.
By Andres Torbado
Digital Strategy Director
Digital Strategy Consulting