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IAB Emarketer Technology

Digital ad spend reporting returns to South East Asia via IAB Singapore and eMarketer partnership


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

February 6, 2017 | 4 min read

The IAB Singapore has released its first ad spend report in six years, partnering with eMarketer to bring an “agnostic source of credible research around digital” to the South East Asia region.

Mobile Asia

IAB and eMarketer release the first South East Asia digital ad spend report in six years

The first round of the research was released today (6 February) and revealed that for the markets covered (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam plus Hong Kong and Taiwan), the investment into digital advertising varied significantly.

For developed markets, such as Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, digital accounted for more than 20% of overall ad spend. In Singapore in 2017, for example, digital will account for 23.8% of media budgets, climbing by 18% to reach $376.5 million, according to the report.

South East Asia Ad Spend

However, in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, The Philippines and Indonesia, spend in digital still sat below the 20% mark.

The return of the ad spend report followed a refocus for the IAB that has taken pace across the years in Singapore, according to Miranda Dimopoulos, CEO of IAB Singapore.

“Our past reports were focused on Singapore alone, but it is our view that markets within Southeast Asia cannot be viewed in silos. The gap between our last ad spend report in 2011 and now, is largely due to our refocus as an organisation on education initiatives and ensuring that all major players in the industry were involved and thusly represented.

"As an industry body, we are driven by our membership, and in the last four years we have grown from less than 20 companies to well over 100 companies – with great representation across agency, publisher, technology providers and platforms. This has given us the mandate to once again pursue one of IAB Singapore’s core missions – to be the authoritative and agnostic source of credible research around digital,” she explained.

She also added that partnering with eMarketer was a “no-brainer” as both businesses had goals to grow in the region and have complementary data and methodologies.

Lisa Church, president at eMarketer, said: “It’s true that data is relatively sparse in that region, even more so in Southeast Asia. That’s why this joint project with the IAB Singapore is so valuable. eMarketer drafted initial estimates based on an analysis of the macro-level economic conditions in the region and our own consumer media usage data. Our estimates were then updated after being vetted by member companies of IAB Singapore, with input from agency executives, publishers, and research companies in the region.”

The Asia Pacific region is often blocked out for comparison against other geographies, such as Europe or the US, but fragmentation makes accurate data a rarity. Some mature ad markets like Japan have had trusted ad spend figures for years but South East Asia data, particularly for emerging markets, has been infrequent and therefore difficult to use for benchmarking.

Church added that the partnership provided data that marketers had been needing: “Now more than ever before, data drives marketing decisions. We know from long experience that marketers want and need unbiased benchmarks to guide their decision-making.”

Dimopoulos agreed that while many in the industry would have had an idea of digital investment levels, trusted data helped drive decision-making: “For those long active in digital in Southeast Asia, the report will serve as hard confirmation of what they already intuitively know, thanks to their on-ground experiences. With double-digit gains in digital ad spending expected in 2017 across markets, the spotlight is now on the digital advertising industry to deliver even smarter and more meaningful experiences.”

According to the IAB, the reports and estimates will be reviewed every six months to account for any shifts that may occur.

The IAB last week announced its new board for 2017 and a new structure in which four co-chairs will run committees around key digital advertising topics.

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