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Archive for June, 2011

Mobile Hotspots – Thailand

By Delynn Ho, VP Sales

Here at BuzzCity, we’ve been keeping a close eye on Thailand, which consistently ranks as one of our Top Ten markets. Mobile industry growth in the kingdom has been phenomenal:

  • The number of mobile ads served in the first quarter of the year in Thailand — 327 million – is nearly double the number served in Q4 2010.
  • The Q2 number will be close to twice the Q1 number. While we’re waiting for the final figures, we expect to have served more than 900 million banners to Thai mobile surfers in the first half of the year.
  • Thai mobile subscriptions have passed the 100% penetration mark.
  • Analysts are expecting more than 72 million Thai mobile subscribers by 2014. This growth is due in part to the availability of cheap handsets and a thriving second-hand handset market. And increasingly, middle-class consumers own two phones and two SIM cards.

In today’s blog, I’d like to share some insights with you about Thai mobile surfers, examples of the types of ad campaigns being run and some advice and predictions about the road ahead.

The Thai Mobile Surfer – Demographics


Contrary to popular perception, the mobile internet in Thailand (as in many other countries) is not a teen phenomena. Less than two percent of the Thai surfers on our network are under 20. Thai workers are the most avid users. Fifty-two percent of mobile surfers are in their 20s; forty-five percent are over 30.

Almost as many women (49%) access the internet with their phones as men.

And sixty percent of mobile users are in the Greater Bangkok area. Fifteen percent are in the central part of the Thailand (around Ayutthaya, Nakhon Nayok and Singburi), while the remaining 25% are scattered throughout the country.

You can find the latest statistics – both about the demographics of Thai mobile users as well as the most popular types of content, handsets, carriers, etc. — in the online BuzzCity Campaign Planner.

The Thai Mobile Surfer – Habits


Thai users access the mobile internet often (5 times a day) and for long periods (up to 1 hour each time they access). Their primary access to the internet is via mobiles. Even though they are using a mobile device, they are not on the move: they like to access the mobile internet at home or at work. Usage is spread throughout the day, but the most popular time to access starts in the early evenings and continues until past midnight. Lunchtime is the least active period.

More than half of all Thai mobile surfers are using a Nokia handset. Apple has the second biggest market share.

Thais are avid social networkers. Some 45% are on mobiles to network and interact with friends. BuzzCity’s myGamma platform — which features customised Thai language content — is quite popular. Another 25% of mobile users meanwhile go online to look for content like applications, games and ringtones. Eighteen percent frequent Entertainment & Lifestyle channels, while more than 8% use their phone to access dating and glamour sites.

Mobile Ad Campaigns


Thais – particularly the internet and tech savvy urbanites — have become particularly receptive to mobile web advertisements and integrated campaigns.

Blackberry, for example, ran ads recently to promote the Social, Search and Tab features of the Blackberry OS6. The campaign attracted over 4 million banner views in one month, with a Click Through Rate (CTR) of 0.5%.

Thailand’s largest department chain store, Central, launched an iPhone application for users to check for promotions, new arrivals, events and exclusive items. This campaign attracted 1.4 million views with a CTR of 0.8%.

Other advertisers are using 2D barcodes to drive consumers to their mobile sites. These Quick Response – or QR – Codes appear in traditional ads. Consumers simply need to point a camera phone at the barcode and take a photo. Their phone’s mobile browser is then automatically directed to the mobile site.

Admittedly, advertisers in Thailand were initially skeptical about mobile. But we are now seeing brands from a range of industries embracing the medium and making mobile an integral part of their marketing strategies. Some examples include:

Some Things You Should Know

1. Companies who are new to mobile advertising should start by setting aside a portion of their digitial budgets and using these funds for mobile marketing.

2. Experiment. Start small, if needed, then fine-tune your campaigns.

3. Track consumers trends and behavior. BuzzCity’s Campaign Planner is a useful tool to track the most popular types of mobile content.

4. Use the BuzzCity Campaign Planner to plan ahead and calculate your expected ad traffic.

5. Make mobile an integrated part of your advertising mix. Here are some tips on how to do it.

6. The Thai mobile market has been doubling on a quarterly basis and we expect this trend to continue . . . and possibly accelerate as rural penetration increases and 3G licenses are auctioned off next year. If you’re not already making mobile an integral part of your adveritising mix, you’re missing out. Thai consumers are mobile savvy and your competitors are probably already in this space.

Categories: Delynn Ho, hotspots

Mobile Hotspots – The Middle East

By Michael de Souza, VP Media and
Romulo “Je” Alipio, Executive Producer, Games

Although there has been a lot of mainstream media focus on the impact of social media on the Arab Spring, a survey of several countries in the region indicates that there is no sure link between democratic movements and growth in the mobile industry.

Civil war in Libya has stifled the internet, while the success of Egypt’s Tahrir Square demonstrations is helping spawn the creation of more mobile content.

And the most exciting Arab mobile market, in terms of growth and absolute number of ads served, is also among the most politically and socially conservative countries in the entire region, a place where the Arab Spring has not blossomed: Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia currently ranks #5 on the list of BuzzCity’s top global markets. We served nearly 300 million ads there in May alone and our network reaches about six million Saudis (and overseas workers). Over the past two years, mobile ad traffic in Saudi Arabia has grown more than 1000 percent.

One factor that helped trigger growth in the kingdom is that mobile services providers have been actively shifting their marketing budgets into new markets across the globe to exploit hotspot opportunities. We started to see a significant increase in advertiser demand on our network from May 2010, and since then, this has led to higher average spending per campaign, which in turn has attracted more publishers.

We’re not alone in being attracted to Saudi Arabia. Having been dominated by one carrier, Saudi Telecom, which is the largest telecoms company in the Middle East, Saudis now have three networks to choose from. They are the Middle East’s second and third largest regional players: Etisalat of the UAE and Zain of Kuwait.

3G broadband is booming, not just in Saudi Arabia, but in other parts of the region too. As of the beginning of this year, there were about 3 million broadband subscribers in Saudi and 1.3 million in Morocco.

Arabic Apps
The market for apps in the Middle East is still in its infancy. Downloads are small, compared with other regions, due in part to strict regulation of content (censorship of gore, porn and more). Technical expertise and marketing knowledge for apps is also scarce.

But a government-funded initiative in Abu Dhabi called AppsArabia is working to change this. It aims to support the growth of a sustainable app development industry throughout the Middle East and North Africa by investing in promising apps and providing mentoring, promotion and publicity as well as an online community to bring Arab developers together.

The Arab Advisors Group meanwhile reports that as of March 2011, there are 800-plus applications created by Arab developers or available in Arabic in the Apple App Store, Blackberry App World and Android Market.

Handsets in the Middle East
It’s important to note though that the Middle East is dominated by Symbian-based Nokia handsets:

  • Apple has just a 2% share of the BuzzCity Ad Network traffic in Egypt. (Blackberry is non-existent.)
  • iPhone and Blackberry comprise a combined 10% of ad traffic in Saudi Arabia and 16% in the UAE.

So we still really haven’t seen the impact of smartphones in these markets. As smartphones gain more market share, expect further exponential growth.

Egypt v. Libya
The only other Middle Eastern market to rank among our Top Twenty markets is Egypt, which has steadily climbed from 22nd position in Q4 2010 to 14th place in the first quarter of 2011 to #11 in May 2011, with nearly 200 million ads served that month.

Egypt’s popular uprising in late January led to three weeks of mounting pressure and the eventual resignation of President Mubarak from office. In that time, the consumption of internet data soared with a five-fold increase in mobile internet traffic. In the first quarter, Egypt’s mobile adspend also grew very quickly, up 144% despite the political upheaval that swept through the country and the fact that mobile networks were offline during much of that period.

By contrast, as Libya’s uprising descended into civil war, the Libyan government has attempted to restrict all internet access. The comprehensive and sustained blackout has not been completely successful. We still serve about 10 million ad impressions, but this is a fraction of the 110 million ad impressions served in January.

Content is blooming too
The Arab Spring is triggering the production of more local mobile content, though, both by individuals and companies. Yahoo!, for example, announced earlier this month that it’s hiring writers, bloggers and editors to produce original Arabic-language content in Arabic broader and it’s rolling out regional homepages in both English and Arabic.

The bottom line is that while political risks abound, we have only just begun to see widespread usage of the mobile internet in the Middle East. More growth – and lots of opportunities – ahead!

Related Stories
Part 1 – Mobile Hotspots
Part 2 – Latin America

BuzzCity Tours: July 2011

Join our team in the month of July as they attend events in UK, Jakarta and South Africa. Here’s an update of the various events our team members will be attending:

  1. BuzzCity CEO, Dr KF Lai will be networking with mobile industry leaders at the MEF CEO Summit 2011 in London on 6th July. The next day on 7th July, Dr Lai will be joining Anna at the highly anticipated Meffy Awards where they will be sharing the latest developments at BuzzCity with professionals in the mobile industry. 
  2. Dr Lai will then be speaking in a panel discussion at the FutureChina Global Forum in Singapore on 12th July. The topic of the panel will be The spectacular rise of Chinas digital economy: what comes next?.
  3. Over in Capetown, South Africa on 15th July, Hawa will be speaking at the 4th Mobile Marketing Summit 2011 on the topic Wap vs App.
  4. Dr Lai will be part of the judging panel under the mobile applications and advertising category for the Indonesia ICT Awards (INAICTA) held in Jakarta on 28th July.
  5. The BuzzCity Developer Garage which is a channel for developers to share experience, trends and insights on developing sites and applications on mobile internet, will be held on 29th July at BuzzCity’s HQ office (Singapore). The topic of this event will focus on features and opportunities from the latest Windows Phone 7 Update – Mango. One of the speakers at this event will be Chris Ismael – Developer Evangelist at Mircrosoft. Further details on other speakers will be updated soon.
Feel free to email feedback [at]buzzcity.com to arrange a meeting with any of our colleagues at these events.
Categories: Uncategorized

Mobile Hotspots – Latin America

By Michael de Souza, VP Media

Latin America’s mobile markets have grown by leaps, bounds and then some over the past year, but here at BuzzCity, we believe the Latin American mobile story is only just beginning.

Take a look, for example, at Brazil. It’s one of the largest markets in Central and South America. But at the moment only about 10-15% of Brazilians access the web from their mobile phones. That’s a small proportion and it’s growing fast.

As I pointed out in the first part of this ‘Mobile Hotspots’ series, as several key factors come into play – namely lower rates, the rollout of 3G and WiMax licenses, better cheaper handsets and increased promotion of mobile web services – you can expect to see these markets take off even faster and further.


Mexico is by far the largest market in the region, in terms of ads served. Traffic took off after 3G licenses were allocated in the third quarter of last year. Driven by a booming GSM market, mobile penetration has topped 40%.

Brands from a broad range of industries are taking advantage of this growth to reach out to mobile consumers. Some examples include confectionary Bubu Lubu, financial services company Grupo Profuturo and telecom giant Telcel:

  • Bubu Lubu*, a chocolate bar with a strawberry and marshmellow filling, is linking mobile ads to its social media campaigns in Facebook and Twitter.
  • Grupo Profuturo is using mobile ads to reach out to a younger Mexican audience to promote banking, investment and loan services. Banner ads connect to a mobile site where respondents can provide their contact details. Customer service representatives then follow up on the leads.
  • And Telcel, which is by far the dominant Mexican carrier, is promoting the wireless internet service, particularly the idea of being able to work from anywhere. It’s mobile internet offer includes three free monts of service upon signing a contract.


(*Side note: according to the Urban Dictionary, Bubu Lubu is also a term of despair, as in “Wah, Bubu Lubu, I can’t believe my football team is losing!”)


Meanwhile, over in Argentina, one of the country’s leading newspapers, La Nacion, is using mobile ads to promote its new iTunes app, and in the process the app has become one of Argentina’s top iTunes downloads. La Nacion targetted its ads to only appear on iPhones.

Overall, the number of ads served in Latin America experienced triple digit growth in 2010. And these markets are on track to repeat this performance in 2011. Traffic in Brazil and Mexico in the first quarter of this year alone nearly matched nearly matched the number of ads served in all of 2010.



As you can see in the table below, Mexico is followed by Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica on the list of the region’s most active markets.

What’s good to note here is that the reach of the BuzzCity Ad Network is growing as well.  There are 3.6 million unique users in Brazil, 3.3 million in Mexico and more than half a million in Argentina (as of May 2011). The number of users in Mexico and Argentina grew by about 30 percent in just one month.


Back to the example of Brazil, while a relatively small percentage of users are accessing the mobile internet from their phones, there are 3 – 4 times as many cellphones in the country as PCs. We believe it’s only a matter of time before Brazil becomes like India, where mobile devices are by far and away the most common tool used for surfing the web. (India is also currently our largest market with more than 2 billion ads served a month.)


Flat-rate data tarrifs are already stimulating usage. Of course rates could always fall further.  And like other markets in the region, the key to further growth in Brazil is likely to be linked to the promotion of feature-rich devices and mobile internet content.


Related Stories
Part 1 – Mobile Hotspots
Part 3 – The Middle East

Categories: Michael de Souza