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Rapid technological developments, including high-speed internet access and WiFi, and increasing ownership of connected devices such as smartphones and tablets are revolutionizing digital media usage in Southeast Asia, with internet usage in some markets surpassing time spent on traditional media such as television, radio or print, according to a new study released today by leading global information and measurement company, Nielsen.
The inaugural Nielsen Southeast Asia Digital Consumer Report, which examined the digital media habits and attitudes of Southeast Asian consumers, revealed that Singaporean digital consumers were the heaviest internet users in the region, averaging 25 hours online per week, followed closely by digital consumers in the Philippines and Malaysia who averaged 21.5 hours and 19.8 hours online per week, respectively. Digital consumers in Indonesia trailed the region for time spent online, averaging 14 hours per week.
According to the Nielsen report, "increasing numbers of Southeast Asian consumers are getting online via internet capable mobile devices, and rapid growth in ownership of internet capable devices, namely smartphones and tablet computers, is expected in 2012. In four of the six Southeast Asian nations, ownership of an internet capable mobile device is equal to or greater than ownership of a desktop computer“ in Indonesia alone, ownership of an internet capable mobile phone (78%) is more than double that of a desktop PC (31%) or notebook computer (29%).
"The increasing availability and up-take of internet capable devices is driving usage of digital media across the region and bringing about considerable changes in the way media is consumed, in particular fuelling media multi tasking behaviours amongst Southeast Asian consumers," notes Melanie Ingrey, Nielsen's APMEA Region Research Director. "More and more we are seeing consumers accessing multiple media platforms simultaneously, especially accessing the internet whilst watching television which many consumers are doing several times per week."
The most popular activity being undertaken online varies across the region, email remains the most popular activity in Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, whilst news tops the list in Vietnam, and in Indonesia, digital media consumption is being driven by social networking. In all markets except Vietnam social networking ranks amongst the top five most popular online activities.
Nielsen's report identified Facebook as the dominating social media site in the region, with a massive 90 percent of digital consumers in Indonesia maintaining an active profile on Facebook, 81 percent in the Philippines and 78 percent in Malaysia. In Thailand and Vietnam, Facebook does not enjoy such dominance, with social competitors 4Shared (Thailand) and Zing (Vietnam) holding significant market share. YouTube enjoys widespread popularity in Southeast Asia, ranking as the second or third most popular social networking site in all six Southeast Asian markets.
Social networking sites are becoming increasingly popular amongst Southeast Asian digital consumers as a means of engaging with organisations almost two thirds of Philippines digital consumers (65%) have connected or interacted with brands, products or companies via social media in the past year, as have 60 percent of digital consumers in Malaysia and 56 percent in Singapore.
ASocial media platforms offer myriad opportunities for organisations to engage with consumers, and social media is becoming an increasingly critical means of influencing consumer decision making", emphasises Ingrey. "As Southeast Asian digital consumers are becoming more familiar and comfortable using social media, their level of participation is also increasing. A significant proportion of consumers visit online discussion forums at least monthly and many are now beginning to take an active role in these online discussions, voicing their opinions and sharing their experiences about brands, products or services."