The Oban Blog

Digital World – Global Digital Marketing News: Friday 13 March 2015

Hello and welcome to Digital World, the new name for our series of weekly international marketing news updates. In this week’s edition: looks at the changing strata of Indian social media marketing; Twitter opens a new office in Hong Kong; we translate a Russian-language infographic to reveal some fantastic insights into cross-border buying trends; we summarise key points from Econsultancy’s talks in Malaysia; and Sina Weibo is smitten with candid photos of attractive young men on the London Underground.

Changing environment of Indian social media marketing

Internet penetration has been growing rapidly in India, and social media marketing is not far behind.

According to research from Pitch Madison (reported on, the internet will account for 13% of the average Indian paid media ad budget in 2015, up from 10.7%. Going into platform specifics, the research notes a drop in spending on social media. In 2013, one in five marketers would spend more than 10% of their budget on this medium – in 2014, less than one in ten did so.

The conclusion via this figure and the wider survey is that marketers in India are becoming less confident in the effectiveness of social media marketing, despite it still being the most popular option after email. A separate study by EY (via the same article) notes a significant shift in reasoning behind the use of social media. The top three reasons in 2013 were: community building (95.7%), raising brand awareness (76.1%) and customer service (58.7%). In 2014, the top motivations were instead building brand awareness (95.2%), customer engagement (76.2%) and community building (76.2%).

eMarketer estimates that 130.8 million people in India will use social media at least monthly this year, with 106.8 million accessing social media from their mobiles.
roundup-marwk2-01-Twitter in Hong-Kong

Twitter opens an office in Hong Kong

It has been six years since Twitter’s online service was blocked in China, and restrictions on access remain to this day. The Chinese government’s is worried about the potential for such platforms to facilitated large-scale anti-government protests – Twitter itself being at least partially a factor during the Arab Spring, for instance. Despite the restrictions, and Hong Kong’s own recent history of government protests, Twitter has opened up an office in the city in order to conquer the market of a prosperous economy.

Twitter representatives have emphasised that their intention is to increase the influence of Chinese companies in the US rather than exerting western influence over the Chinese market. Twitter VP for Asia Pacific has pointed out that “Opening our Hong Kong office now and hiring a sales team to work directly with advertisers across the Greater China market will contribute to our next phase of growth in Asia”. New Sales team will be focusing on the entertainment industry, according to Twitter’s job description.

Twitter faces stiff competition from local firms such as Sina Weibo, which has become the go-to Twitter alternative for the Chinese audience. Google and Facebook have also established a presence in Hong-Kong.

roundup-marwk2-02-e-commerce in Russia

How do Russians do their online shopping?

Yandex.Market and GfK have published an infographic (in Russian) off the back of a survey, revealing how retail e-commerce is progressing in Russia. A key finding for businesses interested in ecommerce opportunities in Russia is that the number of people buying from abroad retailers has increased from 36% in 2013 to almost 50% in 2014.

Why are Russians motivated to buy in foreign online shops? The survey says that the top three reasons are the larger selection of products available, lower prices and the guaranteed higher quality of products. The survey also dealt with where buyers were prepared to shop: central cities with higher populations were more likely to prefer European and US e-commerce sites, though purchase levels from Chinese websites have increased for clothes, children’s products as well as home and garden items. By contrast, English-speaking online shops are a source for clothes, shoes, cosmetics, perfume and hand-made products. Unsurprisingly, Russian online shops are still remain more popular for items that would be prohibitively expensive to ship, such as household appliances, furniture, building materials and car-parts.

Buying habits are also changing. The number of spontaneous buys has increased by over 10% in all regions accept small cities, between 2013 and 2014. There has been a significant growth in awareness and use of Aliexpress, particular in smaller cities of Russia. More consumers are said to be aware of cross-border purchase opportunities and foreign companies are increasingly catering for the market with Russian language interfaces.


Marketing performance management trends in Malaysia

Econsultancy and IBM recently hosted six roundtables in Kuala Lumpur as part of their BusinessConnect2015 series. Key discussions, focussed on marketing performance management, personalisation and data-driven marketing opportunities.

Perhaps the most dynamic discussion was concentrated on how to measure the marketing contribution towards sales. 59% of marketers believe that marketing drives over 20% of company’s profit, but only 38% of finance directors share that belief. Biggest concern was that only a quarter of finance directors knew their ROI from marketing and even less marketers (17%) did, even approximately.

Company representatives pointed out benefits they received from analytics, but highlighted that educating their colleagues about the importance of data has been a struggle. IBM was able to demonstrate educating their sales team about analytics in the past, which improved their effectiveness. Similarly, Econsultancy shared their experience of getting sales teams to buy into digital transformation projects.


Sina Weibo users sharing photos of attractive men from the tube

As spotted by several western media outlets this week, Chinese social media has been gripped by a recent trend for reposting images from, a UK-based site sharing photos of attractive men from the London underground. These reposted images result in as many as 100,000 likes and shares across Sina Weibo. The co-founder of says that China is the third biggest source of traffic, and it is most popular in areas of Guangzhou and Shanghai. Those concerned about privacy will be happy to know that the photos can be taken down upon request.

To keep up-to-date with the latest international digital marketing news, sign up to Oban’s newsletter, Trendspotter. Alternatively contact Oban on +44(0)1273 704 434 or email [email protected] for advice on how we can help leverage your global online presence.

Image credits

View from Charminar by {pranav}

Twitter – What are you doing? by kelyac

Shopping in Moscow prior to New Year’s by Adam Baker

Return on Investment from marketing by Econsultancy

Tube Crush by Maxi and K-Bot