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Malaysia sees digital adspend hike

News, 25 March 2016

SINGAPORE/LONDON: Ad expenditure on digital formats in Malaysia rose by 25% in 2015, with mobile accounting for almost a quarter of the total, according to new data from Warc.

Digital adspend is estimated to have reached MYR726m in 2015, placing internet as the third-largest ad channel in Malaysia.

Furthermore, estimates derived from Warc's survey of mobile marketing in Asia-Pacific, conducted on behalf of the Mobile Marketing Association, find that spend on mobile-specific formats topped MYR160m last year, up by almost 60% from 2014.

Malaysia's digital prospects are outlined in a recent Warc exclusive from Sandeep Mark Joseph, head of strategy and digital at Zenith Malaysia, who observes that native and online video formats are surging in the country.

"As GDP growth slows to sub-5%, and with marketing budgets under pressure, it is only natural that marketers will turn to the 'lower cost', more traceable medium of digital," he said.

"More specific targeting via interests and habits, location-based advertising, and e-commerce linkages are clearly trends to watch for 2016."

Malaysians are among the most connected consumers in the world. Research from Google, recently published by Warc, reveals that the average Malaysian mobile user now spends more than three hours a day online via their device, compared with the two they spend in front of the TV.

The research also notes that-two thirds of Malaysians use their smartphones to connect to the internet more often than they use their desktop or tablet.

The growth in Malaysian digital adspend contrasts with that for traditional media last year. According to research firm Nielsen, investment in the country's two largest advertising channels, television and newspapers, both recorded annual declines in 2015.

Newspaper adspend fell 10.7% year-on-year, while overall TV spend declined 9.6%, although this total included a 10.9% decrease for free-to-air TV, and a 6.5% rise for pay TV, with the latter comprising the larger share.

Growth was recorded for all other media channels in 2015, including magazines (up 6.5% year-on-year), radio (+3.7%) and cinema, which saw ad investment rise 43%. Nielsen noted that FMCG companies were the biggest spenders in 2015, including Unilever, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Colgate Palmolive.

However, Warc believes that total Malaysian advertising expenditure contracted 6.2% from 2014 levels last year. Marketers are thought to have been exercising caution when committing ad budgets following the introduction of a goods and sales tax last April. A weakening ringgit and lower commodity prices also acted as headwinds in 2015.

Nonetheless, prospects are forecast to be stronger this year, with traditional media expected to record increased investment and digital formats continuing to flourish.

Data sourced from Nielsen, Google; additional content by Warc staff