APACThe CMO Council and Adobe released their third annual “APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard” this week, a study that seeks to identify where marketers are making improvements in their digital marketing efforts in APAC, as well as where challenges still exist.

The new research confirms a fragmented digital marketing landscape with some Asia Pacific countries surging ahead of others thanks to dedicated digital leadership, hence, widening the gaps in digital marketing maturity across Asia-Pacific.

While all countries understand the importance and value of digital, no country is taking full advantage of the opportunities it presents.

The 2014 Digital Dashboard has found that countries such as Singapore, Australia and India are pulling away with strong executive support and digital champions, while Korea, China and Hong Kong struggle with executive support and skill shortages.

“The 2014 Dashboard uncovers the varying degrees of digital marketing maturity across the region, and highlights the need for marketers to continue to demonstrate value and ROI,” said Hisamichi Kinomoto, Vice President of Marketing, Adobe Japan and Asia Pacific. “Organizations need to accelerate their investment in employees’ professional development to close the skills gaps faster and leverage the benefits of digital. In addition, a bolder approach is needed to applying metrics and driving a more compelling case for increased investment”, he added.

Liz Miller, Vice President of Marketing at the CMO Council said: “No country is truly taking advantage of the huge amounts of data they are collecting. Few see leveraging data as a competitive advantage, whereas globally, advancing the customer experience with deep personalization and smart adaptive engagements is driving revenue gains and measurable advantage. Opportunities exist for marketers to leap ahead by using data to enrich and guide the customer journey, not just reporting on KPIs or implementing a piecemeal approach.”

Senior executive support drives digital marketing adoption

The Adobe APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard identified that those countries with strong support for digital marketing from senior executives are moving to leadership positions.

In Australia, Chief Marketing Executive ownership is at 54% in 2014, followed by India (42%), Hong Kong (40.6%), Korea (39%) and Singapore (37%). Having a strong digital champion within the leadership team remained steady across the region at 38% between 2012 and 2014; however, Australia is pulling away with 62% in 2014, followed by Hong Kong (46%), Singapore (41%) and India (39%).

The role of stakeholders in driving digital marketing

Lines of businesses as well as channel partners and sales teams continue to be strong advocates for digital marketing with more calling for increased digital spend across Asia Pacific. Since 2012, the number of lines of businesses who are calling for increased investment in digital has increased from 15% to 25% in 2014. Channel partners and sales teams who are doing so have more than doubled from 15% in 2012 to 34% in 2014.

Singapore is an outlier on this front, with lines of businesses (9% SG vs 25% APAC) as well as channel partners and sales teams (18% SG vs 34% APAC) here being the least interested in pushing for digital programs in 2014.

Stephen Hamill, Managing Director Adobe South East Asia, said there neededs to be a shift in thinking in the region, stating: “In Singapore specifically, and more generally right across the region, more needs to be done to prove the value of digital marketing investment. Unfortunately, of the Singapore marketers surveyed, half are using data to merely report KPIs or are not doing anything with it at all. A mindset change is needed, where marketers need to look at data at every point along their campaigns and use the insights to generate improvement for their activities – this is especially critical in a fast-paced market like Singapore where informed business decisions need to be made swiftly.”

Some leadership teams are not convinced of the ROI of digital marketing, but are open to learning more. Across Asia Pacific, concern about ROI has risen slightly from 17% in 2012 to 21% in 2014. The Dashboard reveals that in Korea, 50% of senior leaders are not convinced of digital marketing ROI but want to gain a better understanding, followed by Singapore with 22%.

Despite the lack of interest and confidence from stakeholders, the good news is that leadership teams in Singapore are the most receptive (46% SG vs 31% APAC) to piloting and testing new digital channels and programs.

“The results are extremely interesting for us because they show that the lack of interest and confidence is not based on an outright rejection of digital marketing. It is more likely that stakeholders do not have a good understanding of digital and what it can be used for. This represents a golden opportunity for marketers to set the digital agenda and educate their stakeholders on the benefits and value of digital. In fact, with Singapore leadership teams being open to piloting and testing, field-testing could be an excellent way for marketers to demonstrate digital marketing ROI,” said Hamill.

Small improvements in skill levels but leaders pull away

There has been a small improvement in skill levels across Asia Pacific with dedicated digital headcount increasing from 13% in 2012 and 2013, to 15% in 2014. However, gaps are continuing to grow between countries which have a dedicated digital headcount in 2014:

  • Australia – 26%
  • India and Singapore – 18%
  • Korea – 13%
  • China – 9%
  • Hong Kong – 7%.

While 93% of marketers believe digital marketing can create a competitive advantage, differences in execution are evident around the region. Across Asia Pacific, use of analytics and reporting technologies has remained generally steady (72% in 2012 and 74% in 2014), but leaders are pulling away. In Australia, 91% of marketers are using analytics and reporting tools, followed by Singapore (79%), India (77%), Hong Kong (73%), China (70%) and Korea (60%).

The 2014 APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard also found that marketers are not moving beyond more basic measurements. Asked whether they are measuring throughout the life of campaigns, only 13% of marketers across Asia Pacific said they were, compared with 14% in 2012.

“The good news globally is that Asia, as a region, is slowly stepping up on the global digital stage,” said Miller. “The gap is closing between what has widely been considered to be advanced marketing regions like North America and Europe, as Asia is increasing spend in digital campaigns, analytics and digital automation platforms. But as Asia takes a place as a global marketing leader and not laggard, those regional markets that are falling behind will face increased global pressure to keep pace and serve as examples on the global stage. Now is the time to start making the move to digital excellence. Wait too long and the world will take notice.”



The third annual APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard was conducted by the CMO Council in partnership with Adobe. It included a six-month in-field program comprising quantitative surveys with over 800 marketing executives. The study benchmarked the levels of adoption, traction and success of digital marketing in Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and India. Senior marketers within the Asia Pacific region from a range of industries took part, with 44 percent holding a title of Vice President or higher.

The 2014 dashboard white paper is available for complimentary download.