Welcome to another Digital World update, covering the key issues that have made themselves known in the last week. Including: huge growth forecasts for Latin America digital buyers; tips on negotiating Baidu’s certification process; Yandex profiles Russian cities; Google on how it handles new top level domains (TLDs); and Alibaba in counterfeit goods bust-up.
As noted in an article over at eMarketer, Latin American ecommerce is gaining significant momentum and represents a significant opportunity for international businesses. Retail ecommerce will reach $50 billion USD in 2015, and 110 million people will buy digitally this year. Projected growth to 151.1 million by 2019 will ensure spending grows even higher.
Growth is particularly high in Mexico, which, though slow to adopt ecommerce, will add 13.4% this year and finish with 16.2 million digital buyers total. Brazil meanwhile, is the largest market by far and currently home to around a third of all digital buyers. Though the big three – Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, are highlighted, the article illustrates that the wider region offers significant potential also.
Baidu may have 5% of global digital ad spend, but the vast majority of this comes from within Chinese borders. Some pioneering western engagement comes in the form of brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Hennessey and Sephora, but a complex certification process keeps many others at bay.
Search Engine Land discusses the case of a US luxury real estate company and its attempts to find a foothold on Baidu. Baidu runs a tight ship, ensuring that advertisers do not use the platform to conduct illegal activities (as they risk severe penalties if anyone does). Key tips include: localising business certificates into Mandarin Chinese, building a fully Chinese site and creating an official company seal (a common trusted practice in China essentially unused in the west).
Updates from Yandex’s Russian Search Marketing blog have recently gone out of their way to stress that Russia – the largest country in the world – displays massive variation in internet habits from city to city, and between urban and rural areas. This focus has now crystallised in a new ongoing series on geo-targeting different areas in Russia.
A new post is imminent, but the most recent focusses on Russia’s second city, Saint Petersburg “the most westernised city of Russia”. The articles cover internet usage, price and speed realities and specific internet trivia, as well providing an in-depth profile of each city’s ethos more generally. A previous edition focussed on Moscow and is similarly worth a read for all engaged in Russia.
Recent additions to the library of Top Level Domains – the concluding characters in the common domain structure (e.g. “.com, .co.uk, .tv etc.”) – lead to a variety of new branding opportunities, especially in a multinational, multilingual context. However, a question mark has hung over whether these TLDs may have some kind of negative or positive consequence for ranking on the world’s search engines.
Enter this Webmaster Central Blogpost clarifying how Google handles the plethora of new TLDs. The advice includes new generic TLDs (.guru, .how), internationalised TLDs (such as the Japanese hiragana .みんな [minna]. Effectively “.everybody”) regional TLDs (.london) and brand TLDs (granted upon application by copyrighted brands). Essentially in all cases, Google confirms that they can handle the TLDs, and that they are treated no differently to the traditional generics in circulation.
With recent statements from Alibaba indicating that the ecommerce giant’s international strategy is very much focussed on bringing brands into China, the subject of the market’s problems with counterfeit goods has been inevitably raised. On Friday 17 July, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) published an open letter to Alibaba founder Jack Ma, demanding that he address the issue “in a manner that is transparent, comprehensible, and fast” and work with the AAFA to establish and English-friendly certification process.
Alibaba is, however, a little fed up with the criticism and suggests that AAFA should “improve its Chinese-language communication abilities” while countering that it has attempted to explain the current procedures to the AAFA repeatedly. Counterfeits on Alibaba properties, especially Taobao, are nonetheless an issue that remains.
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900.000 nuevas netbooks photo by Flickr user ANSES
bfishadow photo by Flickr user Baidu Friend
Saint Petersburg IMG_8610 photo by Flickr user ninara
London photo by Flickr user _dChris
Officers photo by Flickr user ThisParticularGreg