MANILA: Filipino consumers have become so dependent on their mobile phones they suffer separation anxiety – "sepanx" – when they're without them for any length of time.

A recent study by Omnicom Media Group, reported in the Manila Bulletin, found that nine out of ten felt uneasy if they didn't have their phones to hand, fearing they might miss out on something; eight out of ten relied on the device for updates on the world around them.

And four in ten were unable to go for more than an hour without checking their phones. In fact, OMG said that one quarter of all smartphone users checked their notifications – likes, shares, favourites, comments – every 30 minutes. 

The study, part of a wider regional survey, also reported that seven in ten Filipino smartphone owners turned to their phones to relieve boredom – using a variety of music, games, video, books and apps for entertainment.

This "sepanx" has an upside for marketers who can tap into the frequency with which these consumers are consulting their phones and also exploit the preferences the study identified.

So, for example, nine out of ten mobile-owning Filipinos wanted to be shown ads personalised to their interests, a figure higher than the regional average of 77%. And 82% were attracted to promos while 70% favoured ads that presented incentives.

The report further said that 84% of Filipinos would do further research on a brand after seeing its mobile ad; a smaller proportion (30%) would also take to social media to give their opinions on their experiences with a brand.

Mobile advertising platform Opera Mediaworks has highlighted the Philippines as one of six APAC countries that are "power markets" for mobile advertising (the others being India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam).

Vikas Gulati, managing director/Asia, explained to Exchange Wire the various factors driving such markets, including increased smartphone penetration – they are set to pass feature phones in the Philippines this year – and the growth of the mobile internet.

He also pointed to the emergence of mobile-first companies and the development of local content ecosystems.

"Today, we have high-quality local or regional news, entertainment, gaming, and video content for consumers," he said. "Naturally, advertising dollars will follow consumers' interest and behaviour."

Data sourced from Manila Bulletin, Exchange Wire; additional content by Warc staff