Indonesia is known as one of the last big markets for Blackberry due to its complimentary chat function BBM and affordable price plan. But Timimi said the trend is changing as mobile users find they can download similar free applications on Android and iOS smartphones.
“Consumers can now get a smartphone on plan,” he added, “Data costs are steadily declining and becoming affordable. Jakarta is going to feel like Singapore sooner or later.”
VML Qais Indonesia was launched within the Y&R office in July, with the official launch scheduled for next month.
Its first business win came in July, after it was named as digital agency-of-record for Danone’s Mizone isotonic drink brand. It also won pharmaceutical brand Combiphar last month, following a three-way pitch.
VML Qais recently launched a healthcare mobile app for Combiphar to help mothers plan a healthy lifestyle for their children.
Timimi said Indonesia's growing middle-class as well as the high online and mobile penetration were factors behind the agency's expansion into the market.
“Most interesting is the way Indonesians have embraced technology, in particular social media,” he said. “Indonesia has 55 million online users at the end of last year (23 per cent of online penetration) and 210 million mobile users, which is 89 per cent of the population. There is a lot of room to grow.”
He noted that a recent purchase intent study showed 51 per cent of consumers intended to buy a smartphone.
Indonesia has the fourth largest number Facebook users globally, with 47 million users last year, of which 35 million users access the site by phone daily.
Facebook, Google Indonesia, Google.com, Blogspot, Youtube and Yahoo! are the top websites Indonesians access. A total of 71 per cent of Indonesians send messages via social media, compared to 51 per cent by email.
Timimi said Facebook users in Indonesia have an average friend base of 402, compred to the global average of 245. “Indonesia is about ‘us doing things together’, and that is why there is still flash mob," he said. "Campaigns should focus on people doing things together.”
In December last year, US-based digital marketing agency VML expanded its footprint to Asia, through the acquisition of a majority stake in Singapore-based full-service digital agency Qais Consulting. It operated as part of Y&R Asia in January.
Timimi said VML Qais revenue has increased 56 per cent in the first eight months since January, while the staff strength has grown 20 per cent.
“When we talk about expansion, we look at two things: client opportunities and the insights of the market,” he said. “We are looking at key hard data about the market places and helping clients to understand their consumers and what these consumers are looking for in terms of online interaction."
VML Qais launched its office in India in 2012, working with clients such as Tata Communication and Mahindra.
It is also looking to set up an office in China, but it has not yet finalised its exact structure. It is currently operating as a digital team within the Y&R Group and working on Dell.