digital, Digital 2020, digital marketing, DBrew

Breaking Down Digital 2020 Part 2

What does the digital landscape mean for brands in the Philippines?

The Digital 2020 report shows that digital advertising in the Philippines is poised for an upward trajectory.

The report finds that ads on television and social media are equally the key channels in discovering new brands. Retail websites, digital direct placements, brand websites, mobile apps, and even social media recommendations and comments are also key drivers in brand discovery.

More than the channels, the Digital 2020 report holds a wealth of information that can level up a brand’s digital advertising game in the country. The final part of our Breaking Down Digital 2020 report series will contextualize the state of online advertising in the Philippines.

Let’s start brewing, shall we?

Spend. Spend. Spend.

On which platform?

The report states that the Philippines spent $603M in digital ads in 2019. Fifty two of this total digital ad spend was on digital search ads, 14% on digital classified ads, 12.9% on digital banner ads, 12.7% on social media ads, and 8.1% on online video ads.

What does this mean for brands?

Knowing that Filipinos have the highest presence on social media and spend more time on online video platforms, it is interesting to note that the two share the bottom of brands’ ad budget in the Philippines.

Are brands spending too much on a losing end? The report states that Filipinos spend only a little over 11 minutes and 12 minutes on Google based on Similarweb and Alexa ranking, respectively. This is not to say that brands must sideline search ads. Google records over 762 million monthly searches with 9.2 pages per visit. The beauty of search ads is the audience intent in that they are already searching or are about to search for things they want to obtain. Search Ad is effective in a way that brands present their offerings the very moment audiences are looking for them on Google.

Online presence, however, must play a vital role in an ad campaign strategy. With Filipinos spending more hours on social media than search ads, it is but logical to consider investing more in the former. Similarly, the Philippines is underutilizing online video ads knowing that 69% of Filipinos consume video contents. Brands must maximize platforms that hold the highest presence of Filipinos.

An Increasing Gap: Followers vs Reach

Of the 67% or 73 million active Filipino social media users, how many can a single ad campaign potentially reach?

The report states that an ad on Facebook will reach  87% of its 70 million Filipino users. Instagram ads will reach only 14% of its 11 million users. Snapchat reaches only 9.2% of its 7.35 million users. Twitter reaches 8.3% of its 6.63 million users. Finally, there are about 12% of the 8.30 million Filipino users that can be reached on LinkedIn.

What does this mean for brands?

As the numbers show, there is a huge gap between the number of users and the potential advertising reach. This is not to say, however, that a brand cannot reach more  active Filipino social media users.

It is important to note that targeting methodologies such as interest, behavior, or demographics play a crucial role in determining the reach of an ad campaign. Employing a targeting methodology ensures the delivery of an ad to the right audiences.

Additionally, objectives determine targeting. Objectives, therefore, also contribute to the potential reach of an ad campaign. If the objective, for instance, is to drive awareness, a brand may consider employing broader targeting. More than interest and behavior, a brand may use demographic targeting to count the audience buying power in a sales generation ad campaign. Similarly, a brand may employ granular approaches such as job descriptions in a lead generation ad campaign.

One should note that social media reach is not everything. As mentioned in part one of this series, brands must veer from vanity metrics. Even an ad campaign must invite audiences to a conversation and must be measured by its impact.

Understanding Social Media Audience: Who’s who?

The audience, so far, has been the center of this discussion. But who exactly are they? How are they using the digital space? More importantly, how can brands leverage the audience’s social media behavior to their advantage?

While the report does not dig as deep as psychographics, the data it holds is enough to map out the Filipino audiences’ social media behavior.

Demographics wise, Generation Z and Millennials dominate the social media space. Generation X and the Baby boomers come in 3rd and 4th, respectively.

On Facebook, 52.9% are female and 47.1% percent are male. 63.8% percent of Instagram users in the Philippines are female and 19.12% are male. Twitter is no different with 85.5% of its users are female and 14.5% are male. Snapchat reports 78.9% of its Filipino users are female and 19.2% are male.

The report also records a great deal of Filipino users’ app usage. 97% of the online users use chat apps, 98% use network apps, 92% use entertainment or video apps, 75% use map apps, 68% use game apps, 65% listens to music apps, 59% use shopping apps, 37% use banking apps, 13% use health and fitness apps, and 14% use dating and friendship apps.

What does this mean for brands?

Generation Zs are slowly entering the workforce while Millennials are dominating it. These generations cement their high market presence with a strong buying power. With the right targeting and solid content strategy, these generations are the best to target in a sales generation ad campaign.

The Baby Boomers and Generation X, on the other hand, may not have strong digital footprint. This requires granular targeting and straight-to-the-point content strategy.

Female dominates the top social media platforms in the country. This, however, does not suggest alienating men. This only calls brands to be more creative in reaching out to men users.

The numbers further assert Filipino users’ strong presence in multiple platforms. The report notes that Filipinos own multiple social media accounts, averaging to 9.9 social media accounts per user. More than that, their online activities prove that targeting methodology must not be limited to demographics and interest. Brands can employ app targeting to chase audiences wherever they are in the digital space. This is where Google Display Network will play a crucial role.

When a car brand runs an ad, for instance, its likely the targeting centers on industry-specific interests and keywords such as ‘automobile’ or ‘best car in the Philippines’. It is important to realize that the interest of a car brand audience is diverse. As such, it is imperative to explore keywords outside the industry such as dating, fitness, shopping, music, and banking, which are other interests of the same car audiences. The same goes for social media ads.

Diversifying Content: Create and Engage

Understanding the audience should go as far as learning the type of content they consume in the digital space.

In addition to the usual video such as vlogs and video-on-demand services, the report also finds that 84% of Filipinos listen to music streaming services, 55% listen to online radio stations, and 43% listen to podcasts.

The report also shows that audiences are likely to engage in organic contents more than paid contents. On Facebook alone, a typical user likes 17 contents, posts 12 comments, and shares 2 contents compared to the 10 clicks on any ads in 30 days.

The report also notes that a single post on Facebook has an average organic reach of 4.9% versus the total page likes. Paid contents, on the other hand, can reach as much as 32.7% vs. the total reach.

What does this mean for brands?

The first part of this series notes that Filipinos’ usage of ad blockers proves to be a major speed bump to brands in the country. This entails Filipinos’ uncompromised stance against how social media giants are monetizing the platforms at the expense of their digital experience. It’s not fun to suddenly pause a video you are watching just to play an ad, is it?

If not through ads, how else then can brands reach a wider audience?

The numbers are clear about one thing: brands have the opportunity to maximize their social media community. Brands are only reaching 4.9% of their followers organically. The challenge is for brands to convert and activate the remaining 95.1%.

Will running an ad campaign activate the dormant faction? Yes, it will. But why spend to reach people outside the community you’ve built when you have not fully explored and maximized your current followers?

This is not to suggest that brands should veer from running ad campaigns. Rather, this is a clear telling that Filipinos’ content consumption is an opportunity as well to diversify the contents that brands create. This challenges brands to create content based on their audiences’ interest and consumption behavior. Perhaps brands are only producing the same type of contents thereby feeding only a fraction of their followers. Explore live podcasts or offer live music streaming on your social media platforms. Perhaps then the rest of your followers will be activated.


If there is one thing that the Digital 2020 report is telling us, it is to be audience-centric in every facet of digital touchpoint. From driving brand awareness to converting audiences to actual customers, the report tells where and what brands in the Philippines can maximize. It directs brands where and how to place their respective audiences at the center of their digital communication strategy. This is what we try to do for clients in inbound digital marketing.

The key to a successful ad campaign is proper targeting. The key to engaging the audience is storytelling. Vanity metrics will only do so much. DBrew can’t stress it enough. Beyond a brand’s products or services are stories. Time is ripe enough to create narratives through the audience’s lens.

DBrew offers 360 digital communication services. Inbox us and let’s tell your story.

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