Weighing in at 376 slides, We Are Social's annual "Digital, Social & Mobile" report for 2015 is a treasure trove of global and country-level statistics on the penetration of internet and mobile internet connections, the use of e-commerce, the popularity of social platforms, the speed of internet connections and much, much more.
While the trends visible in the results may not be particularly surprising, it's valuable to have numbers to pin on them, and to have them all those numbers in one handy place. We've curated a selection of the slides, particularly those that offer country-by-country breakdowns (above). We Are Social's detailed blog post is also worth checking out for tidbits such as internet penetration in North Korea.
We asked Simon Kemp, We Are Social's Asia managing partner, to share his top takeaways for the region.
"The biggest story for me in this year's numbers is the importance of mobile to people all over APAC, but especially in Southeast Asia, where mobiles are already, if not quickly becoming, the most widespread medium (even versus TV)," Kemp said.
Overall reported internet use rose 10 per cent in APAC over the past 10 months, although that may be due to more accurate reporting than an actual increase in usage, Kemp observed. "Having said that, the fact that governments and official bodies are now committing more resources to measuring internet use is a demonstration of its increasing importance to them, their peoples, and their economies," he said.
People in Southeast Asian nations are leading the world in terms of time spent on the internet, and social media use rose dramatically this year, Kemp continued. For example, he cited growth of 23 per cent across Southeast Asia in the number of active monthly users, compared to average 10 per cent growth across APAC.
"From our perspective, this means social is now a 'mainstream' medium, and brands need to start thinking more about what social really means to them, and how to use it more effectively," he said. "Most brands now make use of social media in some way, but few of them are using it well, especially in SEA." Most activity focuses on promotion and sales, thus missing the real opportunities, such as better understanding of people's needs and establishing more meaningful communications with them, he added.
Lastly, almost half of Southeast Asia's mobile connections now are 3G or 4G. "This means faster connection speeds, and therefore greater potential for rich content experiences," Kemp said. "However, feature phone handsets still dominate, and although smartphones are catching up fast, many of Asia's users are still limited to small screens, basic web browsers, and a limited selection of 'apps', so marketers hoping to use mobile in developing nations need to adopt a dual-device strategy when it comes to mobile."
We Are Social expects the exponential growth of smartphones powered by broadband networks to be the biggest evolution in digital across Southeast Asia this year. "So we need to start planning now for richer, more contextually relevant communications that have been optimised for smaller screens and people on the go," Kemp concluded.