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AP optimistic but still shaky about digital marketing - study

Madura McCormack | Nov. 20, 2012
Recent study shows marketers in the region believe digital marketing will pay off, once they get it together.

A recent study revealed that Asia Pacific marketers believe digital marketing can create a competitive advantage though budget constraints and struggles with strategy are holding them back.

Commissioned by Adobe Systems and conducted by the CMO Council, the study polled 295 senior marketers from a range of industries regarding the adoption, traction and success of digital marketing in their company. Conducted over Q2 and Q3 of this year, the sample was drawn from Australia, China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and India with marginal response from Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

"Interest and optimism in digital marketing is high, but investment levels across Asia Pacific are still low," said Adobe's senior director of marketing, APAC, Mark Phibbs, in relation to the 92.8 percent of respondents that agreed digital marketing can create a competitive advantage for their company. Half of that number believed it would allow their organisation to be more customer centric and responsive.

However, the study also noted that executives felt their digital marketing environment was not very mature, with 44 percent exploring and evaluating their options while 10 percent admitting they were lagging behind. The CMO Council interprets this exploration as the region lacking the confidence to execute digital marketing. Possibly due to obstacles that executives struggle to overcome.

Constraints to progress

The top cited challenge faced by the executives was budget constraints, which took 53 percent of the majority.

Though this was slightly contradicted in terms of budget spending, with 37 percent revealing they used just 10 percent of their marketing budgets for their digital campaigns.

Adobe attributes the low spending within the region to differing levels of broadband penetration and possibly the preference for traditional media which provides more return on investment visibility.

"In a lot of companies, CMOs are still very traditional and prefer to use traditional tools rather than branching out, but this will be the key to engaging consumers moving forward," said country manager at Vietnam Heinz, Nhat Nguyen.

Second was the inability to develop a suitable Asia Pacific digital strategy. Vice president, global programs and operations at CMO Council, Liz Miller, believed this was correlated to the 48.6 percent which cited the lack of skills and talent among staff as a constraint.

"If you can't have the senior marketers in place, you can't establish the strategy," Miller said.

Skills shortage, according to the study, was a significant issue across the region. Forty-nine percent cited not having the right skills within the team, 38 percent admitted an insufficient budget stopped them from hiring the right level of talent and 27 percent claimed the talent they were looking for simply couldn't be found.

However, the study also made clear that outsourcing their campaigns to numerous agencies for talent (32 percent) was a factor behind the limitation of digital marketing in their organisation.


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