The MDEX report measures the mobile sites and apps of brands according to discoverability, mobile optimisation, navigation and content, utility and usability, and ability to drive desired actions. It doesn't take into account traffic, app downloads or brand impressions. The study covers 12 APAC markets: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. A global report, including only five APAC markets, was initially released in February.
Utility and usability proved to be the category where APAC brands perform best, compared with discoverability and navigation in the initial global report earlier this year. This suggests that brands from APAC offer users more useful features, effective flows and utility. Overall, navigation has been an underperforming category.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Travis Johnson, global president of Ansible, said the domination of international brands in the APAC rankings and even in the individual country rankings shows that big brands have got in right in creating a great mobile experience. “Now that there are global app stores, consumer expectations around the world should be the same for every brand," he said. "Big brands dominate because they understand user experience and do that very well. It’s interesting that there’s not a lot of localisations of brands."
Johnson said Singapore Airlines was a surprise entry in the APAC top 10 ranking, similar to 7-11's appearance at No. 3 in global report earlier this year. “When we take a look at it (7-11), it’s not the flashiest, prettiest, most sophisticated site," he said. "But it does what the users want. If they are on mobile, they can find out where the stores are, products sold, whether there is ATM. That’s what the 7-11 site and app do, and they do it very well."
The report brings home the fact that utility is key, and consumers do not really care whether they are on a mobile site or an app, said Johnson. “How fast does it load, what is the menu style, how many clicks does it take to the outcome, how does it provide utility, how does it help me do something, how can it allow me to sign up for membership or to purchase a product?" he said. "A lot of those things are not due to brand impact, site and app design, but how it is built and optimised.”
Therefore, a key takeaway from the study is that brands should be 'dogfooding' their mobile presence. A term that originated in Silicon Valley, "Dogfooding is the practise of being your own customer for a day", Johnson said. "Too often brands launch a site and app and let the agency take care of it. The agency will tell you that it is fantastic, amazing and the best site. But go in a try to buy a product, see how easy, how hard it is, try and sign up for your own newsletter.”
The absence of Chinese brands on the APAC rankings reflects distinctive Chinese mobile behaviours and possibly indicates that Chinese brands are not yet ready to take on the world.
“When you look at apps like Ctrip, there is so much clutter, so much going on, so many combined services,” said Johnson, in contrast to the global norm, which is more about an app for a single product, with clean, simple and organised presentation. "The way mobile experience is designed for China is different than what is required in Australia,” Johnson added.
Nevertheless, he pointed out that China brands are well advanced in commercialising their sites and chatbots, a trend that has only been picked up by western brands. “The whole innovation of Facebook opening up to chat platforms last April really got a lot of brands to think about chat as their fourth platform after desktop, mobile and app,” said Johnson.
Here are the top 10 lists for the other APAC countries covered by the research (click to enlarge):