The Oban Blog

The global digital marketing weekly: Thursday 11 December 2014

In this week’s update on the digital marketing news that matter to you and your business: The rise of Japan’s largest social network, LINE; statistics on how Asia Pacific’s marketing industry is coping with mobile; China’s presence in top 10 largest digital media companies; seasonal and geographical subtleties in Russian search; and how tone of voice matters in different areas of the countries you target.

More than 70% of Japanese smartphone users use chat app LINE

While anyone operating in international markets is likely to be acutely aware that different regions favour different platforms to those in home markets, the speed with which some brands come and go can easily catch stakeholders off guard. LINE is an instant messaging app launched by Naver Japan early in 2011 – by 2013 it was Japan’s largest social network. Now, according to, 71.7% of all smartphone users in Japan reported using the app.

Within certain demographics, this trends even higher – females 10 to 19 are particularly big users, with more than 90% reporting that they currently used LINE. While the vast majority of users (92.2%) use the app for its chat features, 62.9% used it for free voice calls, and 29.1% used it to follow public accounts. Public accounts are the official accounts of brands and celebrities, and one of the major marketing opportunities on the service. Public accounts are often used to freely distribute stickers – LINE’s large scale graphical emoji that often feature licensed characters, and 72.7% of public account followers are specifically after these freebies.

Monk with a mobile phone

Asia Pacific enthusiastic about mobile, but lacking in strategy

The wider APAC region accounts for around half of the 3.4 billion global mobile subscribers, according to a piece over at, considering the state of mobile marketing there. But while APAC companies are realising the need to invest in mobile technologies, less than a quarter claim (24%) to have “a well-defined mobile strategy”. Only 18% considered themselves “mobile first”.

The picture painted is of one where companies are open to experimentation and keen to work more in mobile, but they’re currently inexperienced. Clearly, this offers opportunities for multinationals with experience drawn from other markets – though such brands should be cautious when transplanting strategies form market to market.

Bo Wang Tencent photo

China now has two companies within digital media company top 10

The Drum reports that, in a Strategic Analysis consultancy report on the largest digital media companies in the world, only two non-American brands can be found – and unsurprisingly, they’re both Chinese. Internet service portal Tencent has revenues of $5.4 billion, making it the fourth largest in the world – trailing only Google, Amazon and Facebook. Baidu is the sixth largest with $3.4 billion, after Apple.

China is also home to four of the ten fastest growers – Baidu and Tencent joined by Qihoo and Sina. The biggest grower of these being Qihoo – whose revenues are up 123%.

Building and tyres at below 30 degrees in Russia

Seasonal and geographical factors in Russian search

For brands working in Russia, getting to grips with the sheer geographical size of the country is one of the biggest early challenges. has an interesting write-up of a recent Yandex blog, wherein search habits are related to both seasonality and cities. For example, whereas there is a definite spike in searches for changing tyres in October in places like Yekaterinburg and Omsk, this activity is delayed until November in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. The spike for Krasnodar – the economic centre of southern Russia – isn’t witnessed until December.

The article suggests that taking Russia as a single region is unwise. Russia is really (at least) three distinct climate zones with different weather patterns and localised abnormalities (such as unseasonable February frost in Rostov-on-Don last year). The piece also mentions that Russia has intriguingly divergent traditions – search for flowers is linked to March 8th’s Women’s Day, rather than Valentine’s Day.

Building in Arizona offering internet for $29.95

Looking beyond timezones for cues on how to speak to local audiences

On the theme of not treating countries as homogenous entities, Econsultancy has recently examined the importance of tone of voice for local markets. Acknowledging that most businesses split the US into East, Central and West Coast based on the nation’s main timezones, the article looks instead at the US Regional Planning Association’s “megaregions” – 11 distinct urban areas dotted around the United States.

The report goes on to consider linguistic differences in different regions – Twitter users in New York are five times more likely to say “suttin” than “something”, for instance – and argues that differences could exist at regional level in more formal language use.

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

Akihabara photo by Flickr user Antonlo Tajuelo

Monk with a cell phone photo by Flickr user KX Studio

Monday Keynote Bo Wang from Tencent photo by Flickr user Official GDC

-30 degree Celsius photo by Flickr user Alex Alishevskikh

$29.95 photo by Flickr user Wes Dickinson