The Future of Digital Marketing in the Philippines (7 Experts Share their Insights)
To understand the current state and get a glimpse of the future of digital marketing in the Philippines, we asked 7 experts from the industry to answer these three questions:
1. What is the current state of digital marketing in the Philippines?
2. What is the future of digital marketing in the Philippines?
3. What advice can you give to businesses who want to leverage digital marketing for their success today and in the future?
From their answers and insights, we hope that business owners, aspiring marketers, the Philippine government, and other concerned sectors will have a better understanding of the importance of digital marketing in the country.
Question #1: What is the current state of digital marketing in the Philippines?
Benj Arriola, Vice President for SEO at Internet Marketing, Inc.
“Digital Marketing in the Philippines is mature enough to know all the ins and outs of how everything works. Although I still believe much of the money generated from Digital Marketing is from projects from other countries, such as the US, Australia, the UK, etc. That being said, the Philippines is known to be one of the outsource countries for digital marketing, which has some good and bad points. The good points are the lower cost of labor for other countries, but still a good price in the Philippines. The bad point is there are some that are looking for a too cheap price, and along with some that are willing to meet the price for a lower quality of service. This sometimes leads to a perception of lower quality in general.
Other challenges in the Philippines when it comes to outsourced digital marketing will be the understanding of each country, even city or town culture. Understanding the market, the small differences in the spoken language.
Digital Marketing can also be used by local companies in the Philippines but the strategies differ where it may be more of research online and shop and buy offline. Even if 100% online ecommerce can be done, just because of the small land area, proximity to many point of sale areas such as department stores, abundance of public transport and the Filipino culture of bargain haggling, along with the ocular inspection of the merchandise, many purchases tend to happen offline, but much of the buying decision can be influenced by all the knowledge gained from online research.”
Gary Viray, Co-Founder of Search Opt Media and Propelrr
“The digital marketing landscape in the Philippines is relatively in its infancy as a whole. While some brands are already way ahead of the curve, a huge percentage of the businesses (mostly SMEs) are still grappling in the dark as to what and how digital marketing can impact their bottom line. This is understandable though because most, if not all, are coming from a traditional marketing mindset with a brick and mortar business model for many years. As such, it may take time to adapt online marketing activation as compared to what they have been doing in the offline marketing arena.
The usual “digital marketing” that we hear from prospective clients inquiring about our digital marketing services at Propelrr is about creation of Facebook Fan pages/Twitter and mostly about number of fans, likes, etc. While this specific channel that we call social media is part of the digital marketing landscape, it doesn’t equate to digital marketing per se. More so, the real KPIs on social media is not even about the number of fans and likes.
Of course, SEO in the Philippines which is part and parcel of digital marketing is getting its traction even among SMEs, however; most of them are stuck with the lure of search engine rankings. Most of the inquiries we get are the following:
1. How much is one keyword to rank?
2. How much is your SEO service for 10 keywords?
The set of queries above is an indicator that these businesses inquiring about SEO do not really comprehend what SEO is about. Take note, big brands are NOT exempted here and even other digital marketing agencies. We could not blame them because rouge SEO service providers are into it. They are cheap and their promises are mind blowing (impossible!).
Here’s a few SEO points for all business owners, and marketers reading this article:
1. Keyword ranking is not the end goal of SEO, rather, it is about conversion –your ROI.
2. No SEO company can guarantee your top positions in Google search results. They don’t own Google.
Do note that we need a lot of education and re-education among businesses here regarding digital marketing. First-world countries are still 10-15 years ahead us in terms of digital marketing implementation but the good news though is that, we have a lot of smaller service providers who have been working with the outside clients. As such, it equipped them with the right stuff in helping brands/businesses achieve real ROIs.
In hindsight, we at Propelrr , a digital marketing agency in the Philippines, used to be focused outside the country 7 years ago because it seemed cryptic back then whenever we pitch digital marketing among brands here, but now, our stats including our number of inquiries is higher than before.”
Glen Dimaandal, CEO at Glen Dimaandal Inc. (GDI)
“I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this: I certainly don’t have certified stats on hand to make sweeping statements. But from what I can see, we are starting to emerge from our digital marketing infancy and Philippine businesses are beginning to realize the value of the Internet. A lot of us now view the web as more than a platform for communications. Today’s entrepreneurs are aware that there’s a big commercial oil field waiting to be tapped by people who can figure it out.
From a talent perspective, we’ve got what it takes to compete on the world stage. I was recently accepted to speak at SMX West in San Jose, CA and from what I saw, our best practitioners in the Philippines can hold their own against the world’s premier marketers.
We still have a way to go. Right now, there aren’t too many educational institutions that offer formal training on digital marketing. We also don’t have central sanctioning/governing bodies that can set standards on what are good and ethical practices. In a sense, we are still at the Wild West era of online marketing and it will be interesting to see how things play out in the next few years.”
Jomer Gregorio, CEO at CJG Digital Marketing
“I think the current state of digital marketing here in the Philippines is that most businesses (especially SME’s) are yet to maximize its full potential, unlike big brands like Lazada , Zalora and others that are using digital marketing religiously. You can see that in just a few years of running digital campaigns, these top 2 brands are now currently considered one of the authorities in terms of online shopping destinations here. Kinda like Amazon, Philippine version.
In terms of service providers, I think we are now seeing the surge of Filipinos leading the field of digital marketing in terms of accepting outsourcing work usually from USA, UK, CA, AU and so on. We now become one of the prime destinations of outsourcing not just for call centers but digital marketing as well.
We have created a relevant work about the current state of digital marketing in the Philippines here on our blog, our readers are free to check it out.”
Kit Cuenta, Social Media Manager at Kairay Media
“We have gone ‘Social’. This undoubtedly has truly played a great role in every Filipino brand’s marketing strategy. Filipino audience are one of the most engaged markets and are indeed content-hungry viewers. ― this alone presents more than enough opportunity for brands to optimize and amplify their content through social media.”
Sean Si, CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz
“Digital Marketing is a growing industry. Some argue that it’s still yet to bloom, some argue that it is the best time to ride the wave, and yet some are making the waves themselves.
This can be credited to the history of the development of the internet connection in the Philippines and the boom of website creation. I vividly remember the time when the rave was all about having a website – and yet it was left at that. Just a website.
Today, people realize that there’s more to having ‘just a website’. People realize that their website has to have visitors who they can engage and convert into leads or sales. This realization is what propelled the digital market to fruition.
One of the strongest drivers of the Philippine digital marketing scene is SEO. Understandably, it is only one of the facets of inbound marketing, however SEO in the Philippines is rapidly growing in demand. People realize that search is now a daily activity that people engage with – whether on mobile, desktop or other devices with internet access.
How am I able to say these things? The main reason is that I’ve been running my own SEO company in the Philippines for a little over 3 years now. I’ve been on the ‘ins and outs’ of the digital marketing world – spoken at perhaps a hundred different conferences on digital marketing, and talked with some of the most brilliant minds in strategy, business development, and so on.”
Vic Abrugar, President at Optixor, Inc.
When I was registering Optixor, Inc. (a digital marketing company in the Philippines) with the different government offices (SEC, BIR, etc.) last year, they keep on asking what is digital marketing all about. That gave me an impression that our government isn’t yet fully acquainted with the digital marketing industry unlike call centers and other familiar IT industries. But of course, that didn’t stop the government from utilizing digital marketing to have successful campaigns like the Department of Tourism’s “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign which made big rounds all over the world and attracted millions of tourists to the country.
Like other Filipino professionals, digital marketing pros in the Philippines have the talents, guts, and skills that can compete with the rest of the world. We are also known as resilient people, and that gives us the ability to adapt to any changes (Google algorithmic updates, social platform changes, and other technological evolution, you name it).
Moreover, English is considered as an official language in the Philippines, and that adds to our strength. Another advantage that local-based digital marketing firms and practitioners enjoy right now is the lower cost of living in the Philippines compared to first world countries. That gives us the benefit to control prices without compromising service quality and profit.
On the not-so bright side, statistics suggest that more than half of the Philippine population still don’t have access to the Internet. The average speed of Internet in the country is also one of the slowest in Asia, if not the world. Although that problem may not be felt in highly urbanized cities like Manila, Makati, and Cebu, it is felt and is negatively affecting the productivity of many digital marketing practitioners in the provinces. This made me call out our government and other sectors to come up with an immediate solution to extend Internet access and improve the Internet and communication services in the country.
Question #2: What is the future of digital marketing in the Philippines?
“The future of digital marketing in the Philippines is the increase of knowledge overall and the increase of the labor force that are fully proficient in delivering quality service at the right price. Pricing will no longer be guess work and the acceptance of the price in general by the world would no longer view the Philippines as the cheapest, but with good quality. It may not appear the cheapest to people in other countries 1st world countries, but it would still be an economical decision for them considering the quality of work delivered.
More thought leaders from the Philippines will arise that will be known in the digital marketing space. In the SEO world, we have seen Jason Acidre and Sean Si often referenced in other people’s blog posts–and along with newer fresh faces like Venchito Jun, Jayson Bagio, Gary Viray, Glenn Dimaandal also getting some recognition. And I am also happy that Glenn is one of the speakers at SMX West this year. I’ve been speaking at multiple conferences here in the US and I’m glad that there will be another Filipino speaking in these conferences.”
“Like what I’ve said, digital marketing in the Philippines is growing and will continue to grow given that all the stats and studies point to the ballooning number of mobile users and internet penetration in the country. For sure, as it was predicted, mobile marketing and programmatic buying are the here and the next wave of marketing digitally. From Propelrr’s digital marketing standpoint, we are focused on non-linear marketing approach which connects online from that of offline marketing initiatives.”
“It’s hard to say for sure, but I think it’s a bright future and I’m betting mobile devices will be a large part of it. Asians tend to do more browsing on their tablets and phones than they would on their laptops and desktops. Anyone who wants a piece of the pie in the Philippines’ digital future should plan for great mobile experiences.”
“Bright, future and promising! In terms of providing services, I think we are seeing a very bright future and our industry might be able to provide a big contribution in the economy (local jobs creation and foreign investments/profits).
For local businesses, nothing is more powerful than digital marketing. No long time commitments, robust targeting options and you can compete with big brands toe to toe. So for PH businesses, the future is very bright because they just need to realize that their target customers/clients are flocking online and they can target those people right away.”
“We see and say this often, but this is just what it is and what is should/will always be: Personalization. Marketers will continue to create engaging experiences at an individual, personalized level.
- Digital media will continue to reign and competition for content will be tougher. For businesses, this means creating content-focused marketing plan should be paramount.
- And because there is always more content in the Social Media stream, it will be more difficult for businesses to reach audience through purely organic efforts, thus; we’ll be seeing more businesses invest in Social ads, primarily on Facebook.
- User experience on mobile devices will drastically improve, as more businesses embrace mobile marketing.
- Measuring digital marketing strategies’ effectiveness will continue to be a major challenge among Filipino digital marketers. Thus, big data will always have a room to grow. “
“As far as I can see from my now 5 years of personal experience practicing SEO as a specialist, I could only say that it will continue on. I couldn’t see a tail-end yet as of now but I could confidently say that until the most mature digital markets in the world (USA, Australia, UK, etc.), come to a halt, digital marketing in the Philippines will only keep growing.”
I’m pretty excited about the future of digital marketing in the Philippines.
- I see that digital marketing, as a service and solution, will continue to be more holistic, integrating all strategies (i.e., SEO, social, content, PPC and offline strategies) to provide more powerful and long-lasting results.
- The Philippine government and private sectors will recognize digital marketing as a prioritized industry, and they will provide more business incubation programs to support local and Filipino-owned digital marketing startup companies in the country.
- More Filipino digital marketing rock stars will be known globally.
- Knowledge about the importance of digital marketing in business will increase among business owners, and this will boost the local demand for digital marketing services in the country.
- I also see digital marketers (SEO, social media managers, content marketers, data scientists) as among the hottest professionals sought by employers.
- The quality of digital marketing in the Philippines will constantly improve, and this will help digital marketers, whether service providers or employees, to benchmark and demand a higher price/salary from clients/employers local and abroad, regardless of the cost of living in the country.
Question #3: What advice can you give to businesses who want to leverage digital marketing for their success today and in the future?
“Learn the numbers, learn to look at data, and make data-driven decisions, it is one of the main things we preach at IMI. As a digital marketing agency, we make sure our clients make more money through our marketing efforts. And as a business interested in digital marketing should look for agencies or individuals that also has this same interest in trying to help them succeed online.”
“For businesses to succeed online, they need to go back to the real objectives of their businesses and connect their goals on how digital marketing can help achieve them. For sure, those rankings, likes, page views, etc. are not the right KPIs to begin with. Digital marketing works are investments in itself with proven good ROI, if done right. But in order to really win the race, brands should look into having a solid digital marketing stack. They need to properly align their business frameworks to their marketing plans and strategically, use digital in order to become smarter brands. They need to connect, converse, and convert.”
“Don’t be afraid to defy the norm. The true winners of this era will be the ones who question the status quo. If anyone tells you your digital marketing idea is stupid, be happy. It means you’re doing something that most other people haven’t thought of.”
“Concepts borrowed from my Powerpoint on my Speakership at Edukcircle last year.
If you want to have a successful digital marketing campaign today and in the future, consider the following 4 pillars:
- Marketing or Market Research – You need to identity who your target market is, what sites are they visiting to, their devices, messages that they can relate to, right way to approach them, etc.
- Marketing Strategy – Create a tailored or custom marketing strategy based on your final marketing research.
- Marketing Implementation – Fully implement the work that you listed in your marketing strategy and do it based on criteria’s that you put for each tasks.
- Marketing Optimization – To increase your over-all conversions and results, do an analysis based on actual work, data, and performance then create an optimized strategy and go back to Step 3.”
“Don’t believe everything you read. Just because everyone else’s doing it, doesn’t mean it will work for your business. Not all research is created qual. Befriend data. Always test and re-test . After all, that’s what businesses should be – evaluative and analytical. “
“Do it now. It’s much like investing in stocks. If you invest while the prices are low, then you get the most value for money. If you invest when the prices are high, then your risk grows significantly and your returns diminish.
Now is the perfect time to invest in digital marketing and secure your brand and position online. If there are interested parties reading this, you could find our digital marketing services here.”
For a more effective, powerful and long-lasting results, businesses have to incorporate digital marketing into their business framework and overall marketing strategy. Digital marketing isn’t just a new type of food for business that companies should try and taste – it’s already a proven and tested business strategy that every company must implement to win their competition.
Therefore, whether it’s your first time or not to apply digital marketing in your business, make sure it is strategically planned based on intelligent data, integrated with your other business strategies (online or off), and holistically crafted to give long-lasting results. Remember that implementing digital marketing for the first-time is not an excuse to be a failure. So, always go for a bulls-eye and a win-win situation!
Digital marketing in the Philippines is indeed up-and-coming. More Filipino digital marketers in their special fields like search marketing, social media marketing and content marketing are already gaining popularity not only in the Philippines but also the world. This is a testament that we can compete and actually win the global competition. However, like what our experts told us above, there’s still a lot of efforts to be done here. And those efforts should be a collaboration participated by digital marketing practitioners, the business sector, the Philippine government, and even by our educators.
The future of digital marketing in the Philippines is bright, not only for the practitioners, but also for the local businesses and the economy as a whole. With increased awareness, strong adherence to quality service and ethics, improved support from the government, and inspiration from our existing successful digital marketing professionals, digital marketing in the Philippines will certainly become brighter and more shining in the coming days.