CMO Council

November 18, 2013 10:16 ET

Study Reveals Asia Pacific Marketers Increasingly Confident Developing Customer-Centric Digital Strategies; Advancing in Spite of Budget and Talent Deficits

Gaps Appear Across APAC as Some Countries Surge Ahead Leveraging Analytic Insights From Big Data While Others Struggle With Low Investment and Lack of Access to the Right Skills

PALO ALTO, CA--(Marketwired - Nov 18, 2013) - Significant differences are starting to appear between Asia Pacific countries in the second annual Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard, research released today by the CMO Council in partnership with Adobe. The study paints a picture of a two-stroke regional approach to digital marketing, with some countries advancing with increased focus on analytics and competitive advantage leveraging big data, and others struggling with limited budget and lack of skillset to implement analytics and reporting technology that will enable them to build a case for return on investment.

In spite of this, APAC marketers are generally gaining confidence in their digital abilities, with 28% across APAC rating themselves as 'highly evolved and a leader in their field,' compared to 23% in 2012. Confidence was highest in India (42%), Australia (37%) and Singapore (29%).

These and more in-depth findings were released today in the second annual Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard.  A six-month in-field program comprising quantitative and qualitative surveys, the study benchmarked the levels of adoption, traction and success of digital marketing in Australia, Singapore, Korea, China, Hong Kong and India. 276 senior marketers from a range of industries took part.

Priorities Shift to Content Strategy, Social Optimization

The Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard identified some dramatic shifts in marketers' priorities in 2013. Almost 75% of APAC marketers said they were strengthening their digital marketing content strategy this year, compared to 36% in 2012. Marketers also said they were prioritizing social media optimization (59% in 2013 compared to 52% in 2012). Other top priorities were increasing the performance of search and online display advertising (45%), and websites (36%).

Measuring but not Analysing

A strong majority of APAC marketers are measuring and testing digital campaigns (69%), with 80% confirming they are using marketing analytics and reporting technologies. However, the research showed that they lack the in-house or agency analytic skills to do much more than review these key metrics.

"The dashboard shows they are leveraging standard metrics, including web performance data (75%), click-through rates (68%), conversion (72%) and acquisition or lead costs (49%)," said Mr Hisamichi Kinomoto, Vice President of Marketing, Adobe Japan and Asia Pacific. "These are all excellent measurements, but critical performance indicators such as customer lifetime value (15%), churn rate (9%) and market share improvements (12%) are too low on the list right now. Marketers are failing to tap into the business-driving metrics that will help convince senior management to increase investment."

APAC Investment Lags Global Average

Investment levels did not move much between 2012 and 2013. APAC digital spend is still below global average, which is between 25% - 35% of total marketing spend, notes Liz Miller, Vice President of Marketing Programs and Operations for CMO Council. "Only 14% of marketers in Asia Pacific are spending on par with this global baseline," she said. "Although we saw budget increases at the top end in Australia, with nearly 11% of marketers now spending more than 70% of their total budget on digital, budgets are still quite low across APAC. Regionally, 71% spend less than a quarter of their budget on digital."

Ms Miller said that one of the greatest imperatives for marketers in 2014 will be to advance the business case for higher investment. "Next year 23% of APAC marketers expect to increase their budgets to align with the global average. But similar intentions were voiced in 2012. Marketers need to be able to build a strong positive business case for the investment, demonstrating return on investment. Without the right analytic technologies in place, it's hard to do this," she said.

"When we consider the ways in which marketers build a business case for digital investment, it's clear that marketers still rely heavily on data that shows customer preference for digital engagement (50%), analytics on lead yield and return (49%) and the strategic assessment of business impact (44%)," explained Ms Miller.

"To make a more robust business case, APAC marketers should provide additional insights around cost savings and performance improvement practice, which only 25% are doing today in spite of the fact that they also believe senior leadership is interested in digital for its ability to improve business performance (59%)."

Challenges and Opportunities

Marketers continue to face challenges in building teams with the right analytic skill-set, with 53% saying their current employees don't have the right skills and expertise, 48% saying they lack budget to hire skilled senior staff, and 23% saying it's difficult retaining staff who do have the right skills.

Looking to agencies to fill the skills gap is not proving a successful strategy, said Mr Kinomoto. "Companies are using multiple agencies to manage different elements of the digital strategy: web campaigns, social media management, online advertising. This adds to the complexity and makes it harder to obtain an integrated view of results."

Mr Kinomoto said that the 2012 and 2013 results continued to show remarkably low levels of satisfaction with digital agencies. "Only 12% of APAC marketers rate their agencies as excellent. The majority (69%) think they deliver mixed results, and 19% say results are poor. In our view, there is a clear opportunity for savvy APAC agencies to get ahead of the curve and invest in technologies and skills to provide deeper, richer performance metrics to clients who are unable to do it themselves." 

However, some countries in the region are making interesting progress in how some marketers are using data as a key competitive differentiator, using analytic insights across the marketing lifecycle.

"It's very positive to see that 19% of Australian marketers and nearly 7% of Singaporean marketers are now taking this approach, compared to 4% and 2% respectively last year," said Ms Miller. "We can see some countries realizing the high potential of big data, and taking steps to get ahead of the game."

Helpful Links and References

APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard Methodology

The 2013 Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard was compiled through qualitative interviews conducted via phone with 23 marketers throughout the region. An online quantitative survey was distributed to the APAC members of the CMO Council. A total of 276 marketers from Australia, Korea, China, India, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries responded and completed the online survey. All interviews and summaries included in the report have been reviewed and approved by each interviewee.

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council's 7,000-plus members control more than $350 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include more than 20,000 global executives in more than 110 countries, covering multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, India and Africa. The council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE),, Marketing Supply Chain Institute, Customer Experience Board, Market Sense-Ability Center, Digital Marketing Performance Institute, GeoBranding Center and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME). More information about the CMO Council is available at

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