Knowing what can make an impact now, and what to prepare for moving forward, for each local region, a balance can be established for marketers and advertisers

The importance of thinking global but acting local is well entrenched into business and marketing strategies. In APAC, however, this takes on extra significance – the huge diversity of culture, language and digital maturity across numerous countries mean a one-size-fits-all-region solution to native advertising won’t cut it.

Native ads should blend into existing content while of course still making a differentiating impact and in APAC this makes delivering true native advertising vital. So how can brands achieve this?

Know your audience

To capitalize on the APAC melting pot, extensive research needs to be conducted into each specific locality, rather than just the region as one whole target audience. Native ads are far more likely to fit the form of their surroundings if the advertiser is aware of how each specific culture consumes content.

Particular consumers from one country to another may prefer different lines of communication – direct or indirect. In different cultures, some might favour more aggressive or more subtle approaches. Some content may be either unfamiliar or even offensive to different localities.

APAC consumers themselves have highlighted that they prefer local brands. Global entities should find local content and local routes to reach their audience and bridge the gap.

The best way to do this is through data. Not only should advertisers bear in mind data privacy differences in each local region, but advertisers should also be using data effectively to build affiliations, to strategize, and to locally and personally appeal to APAC’s vast diversity.

Device usage

At present, one such tactic to leverage in APAC is cross-device targeting. In many localities, two or more devices are being used at the same time, presenting an opportunity for marketers to resonate on a more bespoke and comprehensive scale. Understanding the potential of cross-device advertising and knowing the best channels to reach audiences on is vital and helps to avoid redundant methods.

Elsewhere, for many, including India, the desktop phase has been skipped altogether in preference of mobile, which brings into play questions about how to present videos or long-form text, and the use of responsive platforms.

Then it’s a matter of the content itself. Some prefer fast-paced interactive ads while for some, more passive formats resonate much more.

The goalposts are constantly moving and while, in general, the APAC region is said to prefer mobile ad formats; thorough research into the specific region you are targeting can reveal untapped opportunities or indeed nuanced preferences such as in-app ads, videos or interactive tools as optimum ways to present your final offering.


And then, there are certain trends that do sweep an entire region. Enter, 5G.

5G is anticipated to storm Asia, with the rollout predicted to contribute as much as US$900bn to the APAC economy over the next 15 years. As a standalone trend, this inevitably presents a digital opportunity, but again it also opens the door to more localized challenges.

Singapore, for example, is set to adopt 5G internet in early 2020 en route to becoming a smart nation. As a result, advertisers should be looking to introduce native ads to complement more widespread, and more advanced consumption.

There is more scope to include video or heightened interactivity in an infrastructure that can not only handle it but will champion it.

Taking this gung-ho approach in India or Malaysia in early 2020 though would be ill-advised. The latter is still said to be a year away from 5G, and the former has earmarked 2022 for a proposed rollout. Those same expansive, animation-heavy ads proposed for Singapore are therefore likely to fail in their execution, and potentially alienate audiences, if applied in countries that are not yet ready.


In countries and areas that are leading the 5G race, possibilities are huge in terms of inventiveness and digital creativity. But its phased unveiling across other countries is indicative of the wider challenge that APAC presents.

It’s the latest example of the different levels of readiness, and trends of consumption, that exist in the region; and companies now need to localise and choose content and delivery based on 5G availability, as well as all aforementioned pre-existing trends.

The answer, as ever, is to keep striving for local in order to truly go global.