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Digital Ad Spending Trails Consumer Time Spent with Media in South Korea

Print gets an outsize share of expenditures

March 17, 2017 | Media Buying

New ad spending estimates from South Korea suggest some surprising contradictions about this tech-savvy consumer market. Many of the country’s marketers continue to allocate a disproportionate share of their ad spending on traditional, rather than digital, ad formats. This comes at a time when South Korea’s digital-savvy consumers are spending more time than ever engaging with digital screens and devices.

As illustrated by a March 2017 report from the Korea Onlinead Association, digital ad spending will account for a little more than one-third (35.5%) of all media ad spending in South Korea in 2017, reaching KRW4.259 trillion ($3.67 billion).

Digital vs. Total Media Ad Spending in South Korea, 2012-2017 (trillions of South Korean won)

This data also obscures some significant inefficiencies in the ad spending landscape in South Korea.

First, it’s important to keep in mind that advertisers in South Korea are very sophisticated when it comes to mobile advertising, with the market exhibiting some of the highest levels of mobile ad spending in the world. eMarketer estimates that nearly 69% of digital ad outlays in South Korea will go toward mobile in 2017, placing the market among the top four worldwide.

Yet advertisers in South Korea seem unwilling to decrease investments in ad formats like print, even as consumers shift their attention elsewhere.

A November 2016 eMarketer forecast illustrates this trend, comparing consumer time spent on various media formats with the ad spending share allocated to each of those formats.

Digital media accounted for 47.2% of daily time in South Korea in 2016, but it made up 43.2% of ad spending. In contrast, print, which accounted for 3.2% of daily consumer time spent, made up nearly 20% of ad spending.

As consumers in South Korea increasingly shift their attention toward digital media and devices, the “writing is on the screen” for advertisers. Soon, marketers will have to direct more of their ad budgets toward digital.

Jeremy Kressmann

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