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Digital marketing in Asia in 2024

If you are an international digital marketer with experience targeting the Asian market, then you will know that you cannot treat the vast continent of “Asia” as one singular entity.

As well as the obvious differences in language between countries, there are also significant variations between countries’ digital landscapes that you need to take into account when creating your digital marketing strategies.

Each strategy must be tailored to each individual market, to ensure you are reaching each audience on the right platforms where they are present online.

That is why I have created the Webcertain search and social report 2024: Asia, an in-depth report that goes country by country, providing an overview of the most important points all Asian digital marketers should know in 2024.

This blog post will go through some of those key points. Let’s dive into it!

1. Internet penetration in Asia in 2024

Internet penetration rates differ widely across Asia. Whilst there are some countries with almost full internet penetration, there are others where the market is still developing and where it is still important to include offline methods as part of your marketing strategy.

The countries with the highest internet penetration rates in the report are:

  • Taiwan: 97.2% internet penetration rate
  • Japan: 96.2% internet penetration rate
  • South Korea: 96.1% internet penetration rate

Meanwhile, the countries with the lowest internet penetration rates in the report are:

  • India: 58.4% internet penetration rate
  • China: 70.9% internet penetration rate
  • Indonesia: 76.5% internet penetration rate

Before creating a marketing strategy for a new market, make sure you check the internet penetration rate. This will give you a better idea of how important (or not) offline mediums will be as part of your overall marketing efforts.

2. Search engines in Asia in 2024

In most countries in Asia, the search engine landscape is overwhelmingly dominated by Google, meaning that as a general rule of thumb, Google should be the focus of your SEO and PPC efforts in this region.

However, there are some major markets where this rule does not apply, as they have developed their own unique search engine ecosystems. If you are targeting any of the following countries, then you will need to tailor your search engine marketing strategies significantly.

Firstly, there is China, which has a totally different search engine landscape from anywhere else in the world. The most popular search engine is Baidu, which has 60.1% of the market share. It is followed by Bing in second place with 16.6% and Haosou in third with 8.4%. Baidu should therefore be the focus of your SEO and PPC efforts. Baidu’s dominance is a result of its superior local knowledge, compliance with local laws and censorship, and a better understanding of the nuances of the Chinese language.

Secondly, there is South Korea. According to StatCounter, Google has 56.2% of the market share, the South Korean search engine Naver comes in second place with a sizeable 37.4%, and Bing comes in third place with 3.1%. However, these figures vary significantly depending on the data source, with many other sources, particularly those from South Korea, actually putting Naver as the leading search engine. Whatever the true break down, one thing is clear: if you are targeting South Korea, it is wise to include both Google and Naver in your SEO and PPC efforts.

Thirdly, there is Japan. Whilst Google is the most popular search engine, it does not totally dominate the market the way it does in many other countries, with just 77.9% of the market share. Second-place Yahoo Japan commands a respectable 12.9% of the market, with Bing making up another 8%. You should include both Google and Yahoo Japan in your search marketing efforts in Japan.

An honourable mention also goes to Vietnam, where the homegrown search engine Cốc Cốc comes in second place, behind Google, with 1.8% of the search engine market share. Cốc Cốc is a Vietnamese search engine and browser that says its mission is “to make Vietnamese people happier by helping them get the most of the digital world”.

3. Social platforms in Asia in 2024

And last but certainly not least, let’s look at the social media and messaging landscape in Asia.

Whilst in many countries in Asia, we see familiar platforms that we may be used to in the West – such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, WhatsApp and X – we also see a range of homegrown platforms that are important when targeting certain countries in Asia.

  • Baidu Tieba is popular in China. It is a content-oriented discussion forum. It can be a great place for you to boost your brand awareness and showcase your thought leadership by creating high-quality, engaging content for people to read and discuss.
  • Douyin is also popular in China. It is the Chinese version of TikTok. Compared to TikTok, Douyin has more advanced features. If you are targeting millennials or Gen Z in China and want to explore video marketing, you should definitely consider setting up a Douyin account for your brand.
  • KakaoStory is popular in South Korea. It is a social network where users can share photos and videos, as well as edit them using filters. Users can add friends and follow channels in order to see their updates in a newsfeed.
  • KakaoTalk is also popular in South Korea. On KakaoTalk, users can: send and receive messages, photos and videos; take part in group chats; use emojis; and make voice and video calls. But KakaoTalk is more than just a simple messenger app. It has a number of features such as Kakao Gift, Kakao Shopping, Kakao News – and most importantly for businesses, KakaoTalk Channel. KakaoTalk Channel is a business tool created by KakaoTalk. It is used by both small and large companies as a tool to communicate and promote their services or products in South Korea. If used effectively, KakaoTalk Channel can act as a PR and sales channel for your brand in the South Korean market.
  • Line is popular in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. Line started life as an app very similar to WhatsApp – i.e. an instant communication app. It then expanded its ecosystem to include Line Pay (its mobile payments system), Line Manga (for reading manga on your mobile phone), Line Music (for music streaming), Line News (for reading the news), and many more services. Line allows businesses to open an official account to advertise on the platform.
  • QQ is popular in China. It is an instant messaging and social platform that is particularly popular amongst young people. On QQ, it is possible for users to message friends, create groups, go shopping, play games, and more. There are various advertising and marketing options that make it an appealing option for brands targeting a younger Chinese audience.
  • WeChat is popular in China and Hong Kong. WeChat is sometimes referred to as a “super app” due to its huge range of functions. Within WeChat, it is possible to message friends, share photos, order takeaways, book tickets, book hotel rooms, shop online, order professional services, leave business reviews, donate to charities, pay utility bills – and that barely scratches the surface. Whatever your business, there will likely be a place for you on WeChat.
  • Xiaohongshu (also known as Little Red Book) is also popular in China. It is a social shopping platform, meaning it is a combination of a social network and an e-commerce platform, where users can share social posts as well as shop for products. Xiaohongshu is like a combination of Pinterest, Instagram and a short video platform.
  • Zalo is popular in Vietnam. Zalo is a messaging platform that allows users to communicate via text, voice and video, as well as search for friends and brands. Businesses can open an official account, which allows you to publish content and provide customer support via message, voice call and chatbot. There are also various advertising and e-commerce features available.

Commentary from our in-house experts

Elly Kang, a Performance Marketing Manager at Webcertain says: “It is important to recognise that in some major Asian countries, Google is not the leading search platform. However, focusing solely on language or platform differences might cause you to miss crucial points. Each country requires a unique digital marketing approach that goes beyond just platform differences. Understand how users in each country engage with these platforms and incorporate these insights into your strategy. Adapting to these user behaviours is essential for effective search ads.”

Pedro Flores, an SEO Specialist at Webcertain says: “Obviously, each search engine has its own particularities, and understanding all of them is essential to be competitive in these markets. However, despite these more-than-evident differences, the key to success in all these markets is always the same: understand your audience, know their needs, and provide them with the content that best fits those needs.”

Samantha Brazel, a Production Manager at Webcertain says: “Whilst navigating the nuances of digital marketing in Asia, remember that brand loyalty hinges on engaging your audience with your brand and content tailored for each market. Resonating with the local culture and values, and tailoring your approach to fit the specific preferences and behaviours of each audience can foster deeper connections and trust. Invest in localising your brand for long-term customer relationships and market success.”

Want to learn more?

If you want more Asian digital marketing insights, check out the Webcertain search and social report 2024: Asia. The report covers 13 Asian countries, making it an ideal read for digital marketers wanting an easy-to-digest overview of the Asian market. Download your copy for free from Webcertain’s Self-learning platform today!

Data sources

All the stats quoted in this blog post are taken from the Webcertain search and social report 2024: Asia, which used the latest data taken at the time of writing from the United Nations Population Fund, Internet World Stats, StatCounter and DataReportal.

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Elin Box

Content Marketing Manager at Webcertain
Elin is a Content Marketing Manager at Webcertain. She is responsible for Webcertain’s Self-learning platform, producing in-depth guides on a range of international digital marketing topics. She also helps run the Webcertain blog and is the writer of the Webcertain search and social report, an annual report summarising digital marketing best practices in over 50 countries. She is passionate about educating and empowering people to make the best decisions for their business and is proud to help share Webcertain’s wealth of digital marketing knowledge with the world. Elin is from the UK.

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