BANGKOK: Major brands have welcomed the announcement by YouTube that is it launching a dedicated site for Thailand with its full suite of ad products on offer.

The video platform has, reportedly, already signed advertising deals with Ford, Samsung and Unilever, among others. Managing director Pathamawan Sathaporn declared 2014 "the year of opportunity and challenge for Thai marketers to enhance reach and engagement with audiences and consumers in multi-screen platforms", reported Campaign Asia-Pacific.

The move comes as Thais spend more time online – an average of 16 hours a week and less watching television – an average of ten hours a week according to Google Thailand. Ariya Banomyong, head of Google Thailand, was positive about the new ad formats that were coming on stream, especially in-display and Trueview, the latter being "a really powerful tool for driving genuine engagement with consumers".

His view was echoed by Wichai Pornpratang, vp/information technology and mobile communications at Samsung. "If consumers are engaged with your brand it's the difference between a customer – people who buy your product – and a community of people who want to hear what you have to say and want to tell others about it," he observed.

Pornpratang regarded the video site as "a key way to engage with today's Thai consumer – the connected generation – who are always on and see YouTube as part of their everyday life and lifestyle".

Already the brand's official YouTube channel in Thailand had registered 23m views, he said. And he noted that over one third of YouTube watch time in Thailand took place on a mobile device.

Tom Pickett, vp/content YouTube, reported that the site was being increasingly embraced by the local artistic community, with musicians, entertainers and film-makers all contributing material on the platform.

"As more of Asia comes online and on mobile," he said, "we think ad-supported models like YouTube will be critical for these fans … [as] median incomes put subscription services or a la carte models out of reach for most".

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