One country which joins the league of local search engine giants is South Korea. Its biggest player is Naver, with over 49.75% of the market; it secures a larger share than what Google retains in the US. With a population of more than 50 million and an 84.1% internet penetration rate, Naver is a core platform for anyone looking to advertise.
We’ve compiled a list of ‘10 things you need to know’ to help you get started on Naver. We discuss features of the platform you should consider as well as the pitfalls to avoid.
Naver’s paid search solution, Click Choice, will (like any paid account) require an initial set up. As an individual, this is often less complicated and requires nothing but the nod from Naver, but as a business (especially e-commerce) – it will often require the submission of various documents. This review process is manual, and can take over a week – so plan this into your setup time.
Account structure between search platforms is often like the difference between a manual and automatic car: the principle is the same, a lot is familiar, but there are a few very important differences. Most notably with Naver, is the relationship between keywords and ad copy – the bottom line being that each keyword must have its own dedicated ad. This is of course great for relevance, but highly time consuming, as even keywords sharing the same ad must have it individually allocated to them. Plan and structure your account according to Naver’s requirements, and be sure to include upload time into your project plan.
Naver has just one match type, exact. This means a few things for your account build and optimisation – most importantly: be comprehensive. You will need to include plurals, misspellings, variants and mixed combinations of keywords to ensure you are covering all search terms you would normally expect to cover with modified broad match. This also limits keyword expansion to using the provided tool (think keyword planner), or requesting support from the Naver Sales Team.
Naver offers no API access, and does not allow redirects, so any 3rd party tracking is limited to static URL parameters. If you choose to do this, ensure it is correct before anything is uploaded – once posted, keyword level URLs can only be changed individually.
Alongside Click Choice, Naver offers the option to serve enhanced ads for brand search terms. They will always appear at the top of the search results – which is of key importance if your competitors are bidding on your brand. Your ad will also be eligible to display several images, including your brand logo and products/promotions of your choice. Brand Search is treated as a separate service to click choice, and as such is charged differently – minimum budget is 500,000 KRW (roughly £290) and overall cost is based on the popularity and volume of your brand searches. If you wish to keep your search unified, it is of course possible to bid on your own brand keywords in Click Choice without these features.
The core performance of any search account relies on the quality and relevance of its keywords and ads, Naver is no exception. Understanding the local market and reaching them effectively is critical to success – and the way to do this is through properly localised content. Working with professionals native to South Korea is key, as they will understand not only the language, but the local search behaviour, cultural differences and appropriate tools to research keywords. This counts for your landing pages too – learn your demographic before making decisions.
Unfortunately, invoicing is not an option with Naver and all spend is pre-pay – leaving two ways to allocate your budget. Firstly, credit/debit card – but only if your card is South Korean, not a likely option for many of us. More realistically, you can make an international bank transfer directly to a unique account number, granting credit to the account. This can take some time, generally a very minimum of 3 days – so ensure budget is transferred well in advance of your go live date.
South Korean currency is South Korean won (SKW); this is also your only option for currency on Naver. Working out your USD/GBP budget in SKW is not difficult; you simply use the current exchange rate. What most people miss is that the exchange rate fluctuates, sometimes significantly, throughout the month. This can play havoc with understanding your metrics if your aim is to convert them back to your native currency for analysis. Our advice: use one exchange rate throughout the month, based on how the budget was originally converted, this keeps everything consistent and allows you to make accurate decisions on your budgets and bids.
Unlike Google, who make the GDN a natural part of AdWords management, Naver sell their display service separately. There are a few options; the most comparable to Western platforms would be Rolling Board – a pure CPM model that allows a nice variety of banners to be delivered via placement and demographic targeting. Also on offer is Time Board, allowing your banner to show on the main search page for 1 hour of time (advisable during your peak periods), and Shopping Box, an e-commerce tool similar to Google Shopping. Plan ahead and make use of the excellent Naver Sales Team to ensure the best performance for your display campaigns.
This is something you are very likely to have realised by now, probably the practical way. Naver does not offer an English language interface, making navigation of the tool essentially impossible unless you a) speak Korean or b) know the platform by memory. Most of the interface is untouchable by Chrome’s Google Translate, although there are some exceptions on the reporting screens. There is also no option of an offline tool (e.g. AdWords Editor) – meaning bulk changes need to be done in the browser interface. Assuming you don’t have a local team, the best option here is to source one – Naver is a complex platform and mistakes are easy to make, the best way to ensure top performance is to work with experts.
Read our beginner’s guide to getting going on SEO in South Korea with Naver here.