HANOI: More Vietnamese businesses are now using social media to advertise online than are using search engines, a new study claims.

A report from the Vietnam Ecommerce Association (VECOM) said that 47% of domestic businesses advertised on social media in 2016, compared to 41% which had used search advertising.

Not only are more business using social, they are finding it more effective: 46% cent of businesses reported having successfully reached their intended target audience via social, compared to the 44% doing so via search, Vietnam News reported.

Individual retailers, too, are increasingly turning to social. According to Trần Trọng Tuyến, VECOM General Secretary, around seven in ten in this group run advertisements on their Facebook page instead of relying on tools such as Google Adwords – and their revenue grew an estimated 10% in 2016.

After social and search, email (36%) and online newspapers (34%) were also widely used by local businesses. Rather fewer used printed newspapers (20%) while television lagged at between 10% and 13%.

Vietnam is one of the more connected countries in the region – with more than 47m internet users and more than 29m smartphone users – "so online marketing through social networks is an inevitable trend, led by global technological developments", said Đặng Tiền Phương, Ford Vietnam's Head of Marketing.

For smaller local businesses, their own websites remain an important online sales platform, with 38% of domestic firms relying on these, but social networks are not far behind, with 34% of businesses preferring them.

Vietnamese businesses are expected to spend some US$1.5bn on advertising in 2017, with online marketing channels taking a 16% share.

Data sourced from Vietnam News; additional content by WARC staff