BANGKOK: Fewer young people in Thailand are watching television and brands are consequently redirecting their advertising expenditure into digital channels, according to leading industry figures.

"Kids just don't watch TV anymore," Thor Santisiri, chairman of the nudeJEH agency, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "So now everyone wants to be in digital."

His views were echoed by Rochelle Chhaya, head of digital at OMG Thailand. "The youth are increasingly turning a blind eye to passive forms of advertising and communication," she said. "To engage them, advertisers have to not only go digital but be creative and innovative enough to grab their attention on social media," she added.

A couple of telling statistics reinforced this view. Nielsen has estimated that internet adspend rose 55% in the first five months of 2013, while Google Thailand claims the average Thai now spends 16 hours a week online, compared to just ten hours in front of a TV.

"Although TV is still top of adspend, [viewership] has been dropping over the past two years," noted Nopakun Sujaritchant, CEO of Initiative Thailand. His company, part of Interpublic, has led the charge into digital, grabbing exclusive rights to online advertising around a popular teenage soap opera shown only on YouTube.

"We're among the first to have done something like this in Thailand," he said, adding: "It won't be so easy next time."

Siam Commercial Bank has also emerged as an unlikely cheerleader for this shift. Following the success of a recent campaign aimed at Generation Y consumers, the bank has moved more of its budget into commissioning web films.

"This is a huge step for them," observed Clinton Manson, an executive creative director at JWT Bangkok. "It also had a ripple effect, opening the door to other [financial] advertisers."

Online video was also the chosen route for one of the winners of the Warc Prize for Asian Strategy, an innovative campaign from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation that encouraged smokers to quit.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff