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Why Asia-Pacific is Important for Facebook Advertisers

Published: October 14, 2013

Author: Ralph Camus

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By now, it is already clear that Facebook is the king of the social network hill in terms of global adoption. Boasting over 1.1 billion users, and in excess of 800 million mobile users, it is the strongest platform on the web (and mobile web).
Much of the discussion regarding Facebook has revolved around developed markets, particularly the United States, and to a limited extent, Europe, creating a lack of detailed knowledge of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. This is curious, considering that the APAC countries we focused on are home to 12% of the world’s population (20% of Facebook’s reach) and continue to grow, both, population-wise and economically.
Research Note In a study we conducted, we looked at the demographics of Facebook users in the APAC region (China was excluded from this study because Facebook is still blocked in the country). This data, when viewed together with general internet adoption rates, shows us the strong potential that the Asia Pacific region has for Facebook marketers and advertisers.
The sampled countries as a whole represent over 770 million people, around half with internet access (around 45% or about 350,000,000 people). Of these, 56% can be reached by Facebook (internet user and population stats taken from here, Facebook user reach collated from the Pyxis Bid Calculator). It is interesting to note that while the Facebook adoption rate of the US stands at around 68%, some Southeast Asian (SEA) countries have rates exceeding 80% all the way up to 96%. Nearly all countries sampled are in the Top 50 countries in terms of Facebook reach (most of them in the Top 25).   Population and Internet Adption
Internet and Facebook Adoption Internet adoption in APAC remains much higher in more developed nations concentrated in Northeast Asia and Oceania. This comes as no surprise because of the higher investments that these countries have made in internet infrastructure over many years. In the case of countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, internet-dependent industries such as E-commerce and Gaming have a strong presence. Facebook marketers are already in these spaces, leading to increased competition in both the app and e-commerce marketplace, and consequently, ad inventories tend to be more expensive in comparison. Internet Users and Facebook Users
Facebook user data also shows an interesting trend: the countries that lag in internet adoption come out as the biggest in terms of Facebook users. SEA countries in particular — Indonesia (94%), Thailand (96%) and the Philippines (85%) — have high adoption rates; targeting audiences in these countries means a majority of their internet users can be reached. As these countries continue to expand and develop their internet infrastructure, it is likely that Facebook reach will increase as well.
Already, these markets have thriving E-commerce industries (for instance Indonesia and the Philippines – where Multiply once reigned), albeit smaller in comparison to developed nations, and much more fragmented. % of Facebook Users in Select Countries
 Population Trends APAC countries, particularly in SEA, have very high numbers of Facebook users. 4 out of the 5 most populous countries by Facebook reach can be found here, Japan being the sole exception in this case. These 4 countries represent 66% of the total regional population and 60% of the total Facebook-APAC reach.   Age Segments
Age and Gender Segments The region, in general, has a very young Facebook audience. Almost half are under 25, and over three-quarters are below 35 years of age. This is largely driven by adoption in SEA countries where over 80% of users are under 35 years old. Gender balance in the region is fairly equal if slightly more masculine (54% Male). A few locations have more female users than male (Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand).
Implications for Marketers The APAC market represents enormous potential for businesses in general in terms of reaching audiences through Facebook. For the countries covered in the study, this amounts to over 193 million people that can be reached on the social network. The users in the region as a whole are very young, enjoy increasing economic gains. They also tend to like Facebook a lot, as evidenced by very high adoption rates especially in SEA.   The youth of the region makes it ideal for many products and services, especially internet-related businesses such as E-commerce and gaming. Smartphone adoption in the region is growing steadily, dramatically, in some countries, partly enabled by increasingly inexpensive models from China.
While it goes without saying that implementing localization strategies is important for success in any market (for instance in terms of creative material and product mix), Facebook offers to marketers a powerful channel for reaching audiences. Now, advertisers can track, measure and optimize their efforts in a platform that fully supports data-driven advertising. The challenge lies in matching the right kind of marketing tactics for best use in Facebook. Already, mobile app developers are seeing massive success in using Facebook, as have some E-commerce businesses.
Our report has country-specific data that would be useful for brands and agencies alike, especially in giving an overview of the makeup of the region’s different Facebook audiences. Perhaps the figures presented in this article along with the additional data in the report will give marketers some insight, especially when it comes to the potential of the audiences in the region.

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