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Mobile Media Planning and Buying Data & Privacy

In-app purchases on the rise in South East Asia as consumers spend more online


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

October 12, 2021 | 4 min read

Consumers in South East Asia (SEA) have significantly increased in-app purchases in 2021 compared to 2020.


The region has seen a 13% to 35% rise in in-app revenue from March to July 2021

On average, the six SEA markets examined (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) have seen a 240% increase in spending, with the Philippines experiencing a massive 371% increase, the highest growth in purchases in the region, according to AppsFlyer’s ‘State of eCommerce App Marketing Report 2021.’

“Up until March last year, SEA was still a significantly offline market – at least when it comes to the mobile app space, and the majority of people did not have online banking or contactless payment options,” said Sam Chiu, senior director of marketing for the Asia Pacific at AppsFlyer.

“Now, just one-and-a-half years later, we are on the cusp of a paradigm shift as South East Asia is poised to experience a digital shopping wave; what businesses do now can determine their market share over the next few years. Therefore, marketers must advocate for higher budgets to invest in ad campaigns to acquire new users and remarket to existing ones. Companies should focus on increasing brand awareness and building customer loyalty now before they miss the boat.”

What did the report find?

  • With the pandemic undoubtedly changing the way South East Asians spend, many are buying online for the first time due to intermittent lockdowns and social distancing measures.

  • Therefore, the region has seen a 13% to 35% rise in in-app revenue from March to July 2021, despite global in-app spend falling 2.05%.

  • To capture and convert these first-time users, e-commerce marketers have also doubled down on their ad campaigns after March 2020.

  • This has resulted in an overall uptick in year-on-year non-organic installs (NOI) in the region, with the Philippines (215%), Indonesia (104%) and Malaysia (69%) noting the highest growth.

  • Meanwhile, marketers in Singapore dialed back on marketing campaigns due to user acquisition cost, with NOI increasing just 28%.

  • The report also found that app remarketing on iOS saw growth in 2021 across all six SEA markets, even after Apple introduced new privacy rules and disabled Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) in April 2021.

  • Indonesia – an Android-dominant market – saw the most robust growth, with remarketing conversions on iOS shooting up 98% from April to July 2021, and Android remarketing conversions falling 4.4%.

  • This contrasts with global figures, where iOS remarketing conversions dropped 22.4% and Android observed an 8.2% increase during the same period.

  • The report found e-commerce apps’ exposure to fraud was $58m in APAC between Q4 2020 to Q1 2021.

  • Although this number is high, it is improving: Malaysia and Indonesia both saw an almost 80% reduction in year-on-year fraud rates when comparing January 2020 to January 2021, reiterating the importance of vigilance and anti-fraud solutions.

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