Forty-two per cent of the world's internet population resides in Asia. An eMarketer report further shows that in 2014, for the first time, consumers across Asia Pacific will spend more on e-commerce than consumers in North America and by 2017, Asians will spend $1.05 trillion online compared to the $660 billion estimated for North America. This is only the cusp of the Asian digital revolution, if new research by Adobe and CMO Council is anything to go by.
The 2014 edition of the report - the third in the annual research series compiled by Adobe - states that globally, 48 per cent of marketers are likely to allocate 10-20 per cent of their overall marketing budgets toward digital engagements. Of marketers in North America, 49 per cent will spend between 10 and 20 per cent while the corresponding figures for Europe and Asia are 41 and 46 per cent, respectively. This indicates that Asia has overtaken Europe in digital marketing adoption.
The dashboard study reached out to over 800 senior marketing executives across key countries in Asia Pacific, and a majority of them (93 per cent) stated that digital will bring competitive advantage to their organisations.
The report also states that overall, digital marketing performance is improving, especially for organisational alignment, ranking 3.8 compared to 3.2 in 2013. Singapore has the highest operational alignment scores, ranking an impressive 78 of 100 possible ranking points. At second position is Australia with a score of 73, significantly improved from the 2013 score of 67. China and South Korea, while lagging behind Australia and Singapore, are still seeing improvement in operational alignment. Overall, China reaches a dashboard high with a score of 42 (up from 27 in 2013).
These boosts in overall ranking can be largely attributed to the greater management and leadership support that the digital function is receiving - 32 per cent of marketers enjoy this new call to action in 2014 compared to 26 per cent in 2013.
When it comes to strong leadership support to implement digital, Australia leads with a score of 44 per cent, followed by Hong Kong (36 per cent), Singapore (32 per cent), India (29 per cent), Korea (19 per cent) and China (15 per cent). Despite clear support for digital, 36 per cent marketers still tend to explore their options, admitting that they are still evaluating new channels and programmes.
The lack of advancement in scores specific to the digital marketing mindset seems disheartening, according to the report. Compared to 2013, marketers saw a decline in mindset in 2014, slipping from an overall score of 6.9 to 6.7. But closer scrutiny reveals one specific question is holding back advancement: does digital have the ability to best activate and reach the customer? In 2013, marketers (64 per cent) seemed far more convinced that digital was the better path to engagement. In 2014, this figure fell to only 58 per cent, with Australia as the only exception- 82 per cent Australian marketers still believe in digital's consumer connect ability.
According to 36 per cent of the marketers surveyed, data is still being used as a means to report on key performance indicators, because marketing tends to use digital mostly as a campaign channel and not as a connected relationship strategy. On the upside, marketers are gaining some confidence in their management of data, although it is clear that there is still ground to be covered - 32 per cent admit that while their expertise in measurement and data analysis is improving, there is still some way to go. Leading this desire for improvement is Mainland China with 48 per cent of respondents, well above the Asia Pacific average.
On a side note, only 12 per cent of marketers, the same number as in 2013, believe that their agency partners are extremely effective in digital marketing, from strategy and execution to measurement. The 2014 digital dashboard has found that countries such as Australia, India and Singapore are ahead in the race with strong executive support and digital champions, while marketers in South Korea, China and Hong Kong struggle with less support from executives and skill shortages in their in-house teams and agencies.