Is Vietnam the “land of opportunity” for mobile marketers? It appears so. Apple’s iOS9 was released this past September, resulting in worldwide ad-blocking conversations—but not in the Southeast Asian country. Why? Mobile marketing is “still being defined” in Vietnam, among other reasons.
According to a recent study by Opera Mediaworks, Android ranks supreme in Vietnam. Vikas Gulati, Opera Mediaworks’ marketing director for Asia, says this is due to ad-blocking “never taking off” the way it did in the rest of Asia and most other parts of the world.
"Android’s default browser, Chrome, does not accept ad blocking plug-ins like what Safari is able to do now," Gulati noted. "On mobile devices, content is mostly consumed within apps compared to mobile browsers. Apple’s ad-blocking feature only covers ad blocking on its own mobile browser, Safari."
Ad-blocking app downloads didn’t gain much popularity among iOS users in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand, even when Apple was touting its ad-blocking options heavily. Experts say it’s not a huge concern among the Vietnamese; rather it’s limited to “tech-savvy users” only. However, some sites, such as popular Vietnamese movie sites hayhaytv.vn and hdviet.vn already feature ad-blocking detectors. These sites are encouraging users to disable ad blockers before they watch a video or continue to browse.
Gulati has also noticed a shift in Vietnam from banner and traditional pop-up ads to sponsored content, native advertising, and in-feed video ads.
"Advertisers and publishers are looking to offer more seamless experiences for their users," said Gulati. "They’re looking at rich media, videos, and more targeted and relevant ads. All these changes are happening right now, and the industry is working together to find the balance between monetization and user experience."
What the Study Said
A joint study by Epinion and OMD found that while the potential for mobile marketing in Vietnam is significant, mobile marketing practices “have a long way to go.” For example, most Vietnamese marketers use SMS to engage with their target audiences. The study also found that only 25 percent of Vietnamese smartphone owners purposely clicked on “interesting” mobile ads compared to some 40 percent of smartphone owners in the rest of Southeast Asia.
Limited ad viewability standards in Vietnam, coupled with the “desire to reach the masses,” has resulted in a need for more mobile ads, according to Alan Cerruti, CEO and co-founder of Happiness Saigon.
"CPC and CPM or even CPD [cost-per-duration] are largely popular metrics from media agencies," he said. "These are seen as tangible KPIs, and so brands and clients will continue to agree for ads to pop everywhere and anywhere either as mass or as targeted buys. Hence, the demand for mobile display and mobile video ads is huge right now, because that's where Vietnamese consumers are spending their time."
Whatever else, mobile video is “exploding,” according to Fetch founder James Connelly, and marketers need to take advantage of it sooner rather than later.
“Marketers need to become more conscious of creating the right type of video content useful for a mobile device,” he said in a recent interview. “The 30-second TV ad doesn’t translate well when most ads are being played without sound and in portrait.”