Adrian Peter Tse
Nov 4, 2015

Four signs that digital marketing is improving in Asia

ASIA-PACIFIC - New research from the CMO Council and Adobe shows that digital marketing has matured in Asia, but CMOs still need to take things a step further to impact the customer experience and content development at the digital level.

Four signs that digital marketing is improving in Asia

According to Liz Miller, senior vice president of the CMO Council, digital marketing in Asia is showing signs of improvement. CMOs are generally more confident about digital marketing, compared to previous quarters when the studies were carried out.  

Miller’s remarks are based on APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard, a survey conducted by Adobe and the CMO Council with 903 respondents from eight Asia-Pacific countries. The report revealed the progress that the region’s marketers are making in their own digital journeys and picks up from previous studies, which highlighted a gap in digital skills and maturity across the region and the difficulties in making a business case for digital marketing.

Findings from the research are based on data collected from markets across Asia Pacific, with 44 percent of respondents working in organisations with turnover of US$1.1 billion or greater.

“In 2012, when we first launched the APAC Digital Marketing Performance study with Adobe, a lot senior management in organisations were against digital,” said Miller. “One of the positives is that we’re finally seeing that this is no longer the case. With the support, many CMOs are now taking ownership of digital in their organisations and bringing resources in.”

The report highlighted, however, that in many instances marketers in the region are still using analytics to report on “campaign performance” rather than to predict and improve future marketing activities and "create content that is in tune with the customer's journey."

"A lot of content for digital campaigns are still being created in siloes. It's very fragmented," said Miller. "Marketers need to use their data and insights for more predictive marketing, map out their digital customer journeys, create content that speaks to the different stages of the customer journey, and then look at better targeting and feedback on their activities." 

CMO Council: Beyond KPI reporting, "data as differentiator" is what digital marketers in APAC should aspire to

Going forward, Miller believes that marketers will also have to “take a good look at their tech stacks” and the various marketing platforms and practices their organisations have adopted over the years.

Miller added that many organisations made “early adopter mistakes” when new marketing and ad technologies first appeared.

“Early on, we all raced out and bought a whole lot of stuff,” said Miller. “Now I think the trend will be that marketers start to take stock of whatever marketing and advertising tech they have in order to introduce greater clarity to what they do.”

When asked why Asia-Pacific has been slow to adopt digital marketing, Miller said it comes down to “bad habits”.

“A lot of the slow adoption in digital is because of our own bad habits that we have to unlearn now,” said Miller. “We trained ourselves to have basic digital reporting. Our CEOs were trained to ask for reports on clicks and opens.”

Here are a few insights from the latest CMO Council study:

1. More digital marketing measurement is taking place

According to the study, 84 percent of Asia-Pacific marketers confirm they are using marketing technology platforms to analyse and report on their digital marketing activities. This is compared to 70 percent in May when the study was last carried out.  

However, only 4 percent of the marketers surveyed said they believe they are doing an excellent job at measuring value and return. In Asia-Pacific, Australia leads in confidence. 49 percent of Australian marketers said they are doing an excellent job. On the contrary, nearly half of the marketers surveyed in Chian said they are doing a poor job, or need to improve their reporting ability.

APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard, October 2015

2. Digital marketing has leadership support

Digital marketing enjoys strong business leadership support across Asia-Pacific. The report from CMO Council indicates that CMOs are taking responsibility for digital marketing strategy at 39 percent of organisations across the region. More business leadership teams are receptive to piloting and testing new digital strategies (34 percent) while fewer are wedded to traditional marketing tactics only (13 percent).

3. CMOs believe they have a more consistent brand voice online

Only 10 per cent of marketers in Asia-Pacific are struggling to find and implement a coherent creative voice for their brands digitally but few (only 4 percent) have a “highly evolved creative engine fueled by an organisation-wide, unified vision”.

According to the CMO council, the lack of a unified creative vision and content development alignment threatens the customer experience. Nearly a quarter of the Asia-Pacific marketers surveyed said creativity and content development are “managed as needed, on an ad hoc basis”. 26 percent said individual groups are setting their own strategies, although adhering to a strict brand standard.

4. Mobile is becoming central to marketing

Mobile continues to be central to marketing approaches in the region, and one in four marketers said an integrated mobile experience is a core element of their customer journey. 29 percent said they have enabled creative teams to develop mobile-ready content that is accessible on multiple device types and sizes. 18 percent of respondents said they were taking a mobile-first strategic mindset, with mobile-dependent markets such as Southeast Asia (21 percent) and Korea (20 percent) out-pacing the region.

APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard: Korea, India, China, Hong Kong


APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard: Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Singapore


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