Matthew Miller
Feb 6, 2017

SEA trails in shift to digital channels: eMarketer

Digital ad spending in APAC this year is set to grow by double digits overall, but will remain below 20 percent in Southeast Asia, according to a new forecast from eMarketer and IAB Singapore.

SEA trails in shift to digital channels: eMarketer

EMarketer, in collaboration with IAB Singapore, has released its first-ever digital advertising spending forecast for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The research predicts double-digit overall growth in digital spending in 2017, but with significant variations from country to country. Taiwan (40.4 percent), Singapore (23.8 percent) and Hong Kong (20.4 percent) lead the way in terms of the proportion of ad dollars earmarked for digital channels. But the percentage remains below 20 percent in all of the Southeast Asia countries studied (Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam). Digital's share is growing rapidly in those markets, however.

See below for country-by-country highlights.

Hong Kong:

  • Digital spend will exceed 20 percent of spending in 2017 and grow to 24.0 percent by 2020.
  • Digital spending totaled $560.8 million at the end of 2016 and will increase to $748.5 million by 2020. 
  • Of the countries in the report, Hong Kong will have the largest overall advertising market in 2017, at $3.02 billion.
  • Overall spending will fall 1.0 percent from 2016 and remain relatively flat, reaching $3.11 billion in 2020. 


  • Total ad spending will climb 8.4 percent in 2017—making this the fastest-growing market among those covered.
  • The annual growth rate of digital advertising will be 25.0 percent in 2017, and remain in double digits through 2020.
  • TV remains by far the dominant media category, accounting for $1.68 billion, or 60.1 percent, of total spend this year. 


  • Total media ad spending will increase by 1.5 percent in 2017
  • Digital ad expenditures will make up 19.7 percent of total media ad spend in 2017, but will grow to 25.2 percent by 2020.
  • Total spending will reach a projected $1.30 billion in 2017—the second smallest among the APAC countries covered.


  • Digital channels will account for 18.7 percent of overall spending in 2017.
  • Digital advertising will increase at a CAGR of 17.1 percent between 2015 and 2020, more than doubling from $221.4 million to $486.7 million. 
  • Total spending will climb 4.0 percent in 2017, reaching $1.85 billion. 


  • Digital will account for 23.8 percent of media budgets in 2017, an increase of 18.0 percent to $376.5 million.
  • Total media ad spending is forecast at $1.58 billion in 2017, a modest increase of 0.5 percent over 2016.
  • Mobile internet ad spending will more than double from $194.3 million in 2017 to $404.6 million in 2020.


  • Digital ad spending in 2017 will reach 40.4 percent—the highest proportion of all the countries forecasted.
  • Mobile internet ad spending will climb 25.0 percent this year.
  • Digital advertising will see a CAGR of 8.3 percent between 2015 and 2020, reaching $1.07 billion. 


  • Overall ad spend growth is slowing, to 1.0 percent by 2020, compared with a 2.5 percent gain in 2015.
  • Spending on digital channels will rise 18.0 percent in 2017 to $403 million, or 17.5 percent of total spend.
  • Mobile ad spending will reach 7.3 percent in 2017.


  • The smallest advertising market in the report, Vietnam will see total ad spending of $1.17 billion in 2017—0.6 percent of the region's total.
  • Digital's share of total advertising will be 18.4 percent in 2017.
  • Digital spend will grow to 23.6 percent in 2020, still well below the Asia-Pacific average of 53.5 percent.

Miranda Dimopoulos, CEO & Ambassador to SEA, IAB Singapore commented: “Southeast Asia is beautifully diverse with digital providing the connectivity within markets and beyond. We can tangibly see that it is digital's time to shine even brighter, so experiences keep getting better, smarter and more meaningful. We intend to review these figures every six months and look forward to participating in the conversations that these reports will no doubt trigger.”

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