SINGAPORE: Digital advertising expenditure is set to take almost one quarter of all media spending in South East Asia within the next four years according to a new forecast.

Figures from researcher eMarketer, in collaboration with IAB Singapore, indicate that digital ad spending across the region – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan – increased by 25% in 2016 to hit $1.72bn.

That equated to a 16.3% share of all media ad expenditure, but this share is expected to grow steadily over the next few years as marketers increasingly look to target consumers via mobile, video and social.

Continued double digit growth over the next three years will see digital spending climb to more than $2bn in 2017 and to $2.7bn by 2019.

By 2020, total digital expenditure is projected to be nearing $3bn: at $2.94bn it will make up 24.1% of all ad spending.

"The growth trajectory is representative of government dedication to connectivity locally and globally," eMarketer noted.

But the advance of digital will not be uniform across the region: Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan lead the charge.

In Taiwan, for example, more than two-fifths (40.4%) of total ad spend in 2017 will already be digital – the highest proportion of all the countries considered. The comparable figures for Singapore and Hong Kong are 23.8% and 20% respectively.

Spending in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam is predicted to come in at less than 20% of overall media investment in 2017.

"Internet and smartphone penetration rates are still relatively low in developing parts of Southeast Asia – leading to a relatively lower digital share of total media spending," noted Shelleen Shum, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

"As internet and mobile connectivity in South East Asia develops in the coming years, this presents a unique opportunity for advertisers to tap into a new market of fast urbanizing middle class consumers."

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff