Last year was an impressive year for all things digital in Asia-Pacific, with all key areas showing considerable growth, says Simon Kemp, regional manager for social media agency, We Are Social.
To help marketers get their heads around the impressive numbers – and to understand what they mean for brands – We Are Social has teamed up with the IAB in Singapore to produce an in-depth study of the world’s most populous region, including deep-dive analyses for 30 of its key markets.
You can read all 236 pages of the full report – and get a free download – by clicking here, but let’s start by looking at some of the more striking findings.
Well over one-third of APAC’s population now uses the internet, and more than one-quarter have used social media in the past 30 days.
Mobile continues its dramatic rise too, with the number of cellular connections in the region growing by more than 11% since January 2014.
As revealed in We Are Social’s recent global report, it’s mobile social that claims the best story, with the number of people using mobile social media across the region jumping a stunning 32% in the past year.
Data published since the global report in January show that the number of global internet users grew by 28 million in the past two months alone, although it’s important to stress that this is more likely due to more accurate and timely reporting than it is to do with growth in actual users.
People are doing more on the internet too, with video in particular seeing an impressive share of online activity.
The reported number of active social media accounts on the largest social network in each country shot up by more than 47 million since January too, with all of that growth attributable to Facebook (Tencent will report the latest numbers for China’s QZone, QQ and WeChat later this month).
These increases in Facebook use may be driven by the return of lapsed users as much as by new account sign-ups, but Facebook will still be pleased with growth of close to 10 additional active accounts every second since our global report.
There have been some impressive jumps in the number of active users reported for some other top social platforms too, with WhatsApp (+100 million), Baidu Tieba (+100 million) and Viber (+27 million) all reporting significantly higher global numbers since January.
However, based on a number of reports on Google+ in recent weeks – including Google’s own announcement that it plans to make some significant changes to the service – the report has revised the number of active users down by 43 million.
People are doing more with their social media time too, with the number of video views on Facebook and the number of messages shared on WhatsApp both showing some impressive growth in recent months.
GSMA Intelligence also reports impressive growth in the number of unique mobile phone users, with the global tally up by 30 million in the past two months.
Current global trends suggest that roughly half a million people gain access to a mobile handset every day.
The stand-out growth comes from mobile social media usage though, with growth of 68 million active user accounts in the past two months – that’s more than 1.1 million active accounts every day, or 13 every second.
Despite all these impressive numbers, digital, social and mobile still have plenty of room for growth in APAC, and the report predicts an acceleration in growth throughout 2015 as mobile connectivity brings internet access to hundreds of millions more people around the region.
Because of this, the vast majority of APAC’s ‘new wave’ of internet users will be mobile-first, and the report predicts that at least half of the next 500 million internet users will be mobile-only.
That means marketers will need to rethink much of their current approach to communications, especially in digital media. Mobile internet usage occurs more frequently, but in smaller ‘servings’ than fixed internet access, and marketers will need to adapt brand communications for this little-and-often behaviour.
Critically, audiences are fully in control of their mobile content experiences, so advertising’s key task must evolve from trying to find audiences – mobile data should make targeting very straightforward – to trying to find ways to keep audiences interested and engaged.