Digital habits changing in Asia

15 August 2011

SINGAPORE: Digital habits are evolving rapidly in Asia Pacific as a mix of local and international social networks and search firms engage local consumers, Burson-Marsteller has found.

The company estimated there are 1.9m internet users in the region, a 58% penetration rate. It also found that each country in APAC had seen percentage growth on this metric top 100% between 2000 and 2010, peaking at over 12,000% in Vietnam.

But there remain considerable variations concerning the web's overall reach within each nation.

At the top of the rankings is South Korea, where 81.2% of the population is active online. This can be compared with totals of 35.6% in China, 16.5% in Indonesia and 8.2% in India, although as these nations all boast large populations, they are likely to drive the expansion of Asia's online user base going forward.

RenRen is China's top social network with 131m users, CyWorld dominates in South Korea on 18m, Zing leads in Vietnam on 15m, Mixi tops the Japanese charts with 14.5m and Wretch is number one in Taiwan, on 9m.

Facebook leads all the other featured markets in this category, having attracted 38.8m members in Indonesia, 29.4m in India, 25.3m in the Philippines and over 10m in Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.

Indeed, Facebook has the highest penetration of any website in many countries, posting 91.5% in the Philippines, a figure hitting 82.2% in Singapore, around 75% in Thailand and Malaysia, nearly 70% in Australia and Indonesia, and 5.18% in India.

Search engines led in many other markets on the same metric, with Baidu registering 88.9% in China, Naver on 84% in South Korea and Yahoo logging 92.2% in Taiwan, 84.5% in Hong Kong and 81.3% in Japan.

In all, social media channels typically generated more page views than the traditional media alternatives, showing the level of engagement with this new generation of online communications tools.

The unique contours of China's market, where regulation has a profound impact on the web, was shown by the fact its top five sites by reach - Youku, Sina, Taobao, QQ and Baidu - are all locally-based, the only Asian market where this was the case.

Bob Pickard, president/ceo of Burson-Marsteller Asia Pacific, said: "Our region's diversity is staggering, with 2,000 spoken languages, a myriad of ethnicities, faces, nationalities and geographic landscapes.

"Perhaps no other continent on this planet is quite as dynamic, and Asia Pacific's digital landscape mirrors the momentum towards social media."

Data sourced from Burson-Marstellar/Penn Olson; additional content by Warc staff