Google aims for Asian growth

22 February 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: Google is attempting to enhance its presence in Asia, rolling out several new internet and mobile advertising tools as part of this process.

The online giant is setting up a sales office in Malaysia, alongside outlining plans to take on 500 local staff within a larger international recruitment drive.

Speaking in an interview with Penn Olson, Julian Persaud, managing director of Google Southeast Asia, argued APAC possesses various attractive characteristics.

These incorporate the fact it houses 56% of the world's population, over 40% of the total web audience and 27% of global GDP, and the latter two figures are quickly trending upwards.

"The recent opening of our Malaysia office is the first since Singapore in 2007," said Persaud.

"It shows our deepening investment and commitment to Asia and more specifically in Southeast Asia, which is one of the world's fastest-growing regions."

"Google is hiring in many offices throughout Asia, including over a hundred positions just for Southeast Asia [and] Singapore alone."

The US multinational hopes to fill engineering roles covering project areas such as Google Maps, YouTube, its Android mobile operating system, search and advertising.

"On the sales side, our new hires will be helping businesses make the most of the internet to grow their companies and attract more customers in this region," said Persaud.

Among the major challenges posed by Asia is the heterogeneous nature of the countries it contains, an issue that appears especially pronounced concerning digital infrastructure and uptake.

"Southeast Asia is a very diverse market where you have an advanced tech market like Singapore, maturing tech markets like Malaysia and Thailand, and fast-growing tech markets like Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam," Persaud continued.

However, nations can be sorted into broad groups, based on those that are relatively established in digital terms, and peers seeking to catch up.

"For advanced and maturing tech markets, we're focused on connecting users with advertisers and launching more advanced web services and collaboration platforms like Google Maps and Google Docs," Persaud said.

"For fast-growing tech markets, we're trying to expand access to the internet and present users there with even more reasons to live their lives online."

Google previously discovered that 83% of Asia's netizens, often young and boasting rising incomes, now conduct research using this medium while on the path to purchase.

In response, Google is developing a range of products, fuelling interest in the category as a whole.

"On the business side, we want to grow the region's digital economy," said Persaud. "To aid this, we are improving the ways in which we connect businesses with consumers searching for their products and services.

"We are introducing new ad formats that include ones specially tailored to mobile phones. We are also expanding into display advertising, and making sure that even the smallest business can easily have a web presence through which its products are promoted."

The organisation has similar ambitions for its Chrome browser, already reaching a global high regarding market share in the Philippines, at around 40%.

"We also believe Chrome OS, a web-based operating system modelled after Chrome that is primarily for netbooks, will also be adopted by those living their lives online in Asia," said Persaud.

"Like the Chrome browser, it is also built around the core tenets of speed, simplicity and security."

Data sourced from Penn Olson; additional content by Warc staff