Thailand’s tech websites and the Bangkok Post have report that Google is planning to subsidize mobile-friendly websites of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Thailand that are willing to sign up for its mobile ad services.
Google’s offer makes sense since Thailand is a mobile-first market. According to the US website eMarketer, there will be 30 million smartphone users in the country by the end of 2017, representing 43.8% of the population. eMarketer projects that the penetration rate of smartphones in Thailand will cross the 50% threshold by 2020, with 35 million people using them on a daily basis.
Digital advertising, which is Google’s core revenue stream in Thailand, continues to shift to mobile. Projections are that mobile ad spending will account for 7.3% of media ad spending and 41.8% of total digital ad spending in Thailand in 2017. Mobile advertising will increase from $168 million in 2017 to $340 million by 2020, when it is projected to make up 14.3% of total media ad expenditures.
Google reports that currently only 10% of SMB’s in Thailand have company websites and that many of them were designed specifically for desktops and not for mobile devices. Ghislain Chatelier, Google’s regional director for Southeast Asia and Greater China, told the Bangkok Post that “Having a mobile website will be an essential marketing tool for [SMBs] to increase their presence in the large online community.”
One aspect of Google’s motivation in getting into Thailand is to reinforce its position against competition from Facebook. According to data from the Digital Advertising Association (Thailand), advertisers spent more than $83 million on Facebook ads and $48 million on YouTube ads in 2016. Spending on both platforms is expected to increase in the future so both platforms are seeking to create long-term strategic relationships with both SMB’s and enterprise level clients.