This is an excerpt translated by James Haft from a speech presented by Professor Parichart Sthapitanonda, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University, titled Communicating Sustainability: The Challenge for Thai Corporations in the Digital Age.
Like in many countries, disruptive technology is transforming the ad industry and consumer behaviour in Thailand. Thai publishing, specifically newspaper and magazines, has seen a number of closures, downsizings and transformations to digital platforms.
Television is facing new harsh realities as sponsors, or advertisers, reduce their investment in programing and advertising. This is also because of strict government controls over certain product and sectors, which have turned advertisers’ attention to the internet which now better matches Thai consumer behaviour and has less government oversight and enforcement.
More and more Thais are accessing the internet, and over 70 percent are doing this with mobile phones, particularly as faster networks and devices are unveiled, especially those now produced in South Korea and China. Consumers are using multiple social platforms in Thailand, including Line, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
The Digital Advertising Association of Thailand (DAAT) has presented an overall picture for Thai digital advertising, saying it grew during the first half of last year by 20 percent, reaching a value of 2.6 billion baht, with 6,684 million baht spent on digital communication so far this year and a predicted total volume to be as high as 14, 973 million baht by year end.
DAAT has indicated three influential factors for this:
- Different products and brands are spending more on digital advertising to increase knowledge and sales, particularly because they can track results.
- Owners of digital media, like Facebook, Line and YouTube along with Thai entrepreneurs are developing new content, products and technology
- The expansion of e-commerce continues to expand as Thais shop more online and retailers, department stories and Omni-channel marketing focus much more on this channel.
Another important factor is that these platforms are under less control than television. Furthermore, they now offer more opportunity to create content and communicate through multiple platforms that can elicit a viral response through narratives often linked through complexity in controversial cultures and social values, with sense of humour to entertain the masses.
Marketing GOOPs recently said that the top five product categories employing digital advertising and marketing communication are automotive, communication, skincare, banking and daily products. The most popular platforms for these are Facebook and YouTube, each attracting about 50 percent. Still Facebook is first when it comes to earnings, as high as 4,479 million baht. It is followed by YouTube at 2,690 million baht and then Display at 1,517 million baht. Advertising on other platforms such as Twitter is increasing as they attract more subscribers and service providers invest more in developing their systems. Now, Instagram and Line are increasing in popularity as they influence inspiration, reconnection and support sales very effectively.
It should be noted that the money being spent on digital advertising is coming from previous investment in other communication channels as Thai entrepreneurs look to expand their enterprises through the above mentioned international digital channels. This brings with it new challenges, for instance, personnel shortages. While Thailand is known for its high creative and skilled practitioners, as this sector expands, there are not enough people to fill the growing vacancies. At the same time, production costs are going up, and now neighbouring countries are developing the quality of their advertising and creativity to similar levels as Thailand, and charging less. Concerns that Thailand has to address.