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Internet: Still A Big Role For PC Access

The latest Asia Pacific Digital Factbook, an annual review of the region’s interactive marketing landscape, shows how online competitive dynamics are starting to shift in Asia’s growth markets.

More internet users are visiting more sites, as emerging competitors take share from established category leaders and build sizable audiences of their own.

The Factbook, which compiles key trends and statistics from around the region, is published by the Digital + Direct Marketing Association Asia ([D+D]), a new industry group formed by the merger of the Asia Digital Marketing Association and the Hong Kong Direct Marketing Association earlier this year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Asia’s desktop audience tends to be flat in mature markets. However, it continues to get bigger in growth markets, where much of the attention seems to be focused on people going online with their mobile phones.

This suggests mobile data plans might still be too pricey for many in Asia, while publishers could do more to make their sites mobile friendly.

“There is still a big role for PCs, and always will be,” says Andy Radovic, regional digital director in Asia-Pacific for Maxus, a media agency within WPP.

“A lot of our research and data shows that while people are using mobile massively throughout their day, they are still using PCs for certain activities, at work for example, and late night at home.”

This underscores the need for multiscreen marketing campaigns that take into account time of day, as well as the importance of mobile-optimized content, Radovic adds.

“Until this content gets more responsive, PC usage will continue to have a strong role.”

Brakes On Mobile Video

The expansion of Asia’s PC audience is far more notable for video sites, reflecting growing pains for mobile video.

By contrast, social properties are seeing slower growth and losing share of PC users in many markets, reflecting a successful transition by leading sites as well as an underlying compatibility for mobile and social activity.

“Facebook in particular is very much a mobile-first player,” remarks Kevin Walsh, chief digital officer for Carat Asia-Pacific, part of the Dentsu Aegis marcoms network.

“Out of the 1.2 billion people who visit Facebook each month, 1 billion do so from a mobile device,” Walsh adds.

“Zuckerberg refers to Facebook as the Big Blue App. While I’m sure losing PC users will be something they are aware of, they won’t be overly concerned as long as mobile remains strong.”

Further growth in desktop use could come down to where people work, Walsh muses. One main part of a PC’s personal appeal – its storage capacity – is being eroded by easier access to content kept in remote servers (dubbed the cloud) instead.

Despite increasing diversity in Asia’s online landscape, category leaders still rule – usually Facebook in social and YouTube in entertainment outside China, where local incumbents are still seeing big boosts to PC audiences.

Elsewhere, Facebook and YouTube enjoy a wide gap over rivals in most markets, and could well be near the limits of reaching more people on PC.

While these restless giants continue to drive forward, others are pushing for a bigger slice of revenues too.

“LinkedIn and Twitter have suites of analytics that are just available to major partners,” observes [D+D] chairman David Ketchum.

“They are working hard to make the more sophisticated tools and reports available to a broader group of marketers,” adds Ketchum, who is also Asia-Pacific president of Bite, a specialist digital agency.

“Currently these platforms have good sales teams and thought-leadership presence. While YouTube and Facebook are probably a bit further ahead in terms of a self-service model, others are catching up fast.”

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