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Facebook Messenger Gives Thailand an Early Look at Ads

Social media ads already effective among mobile users in the country

January 31, 2017

Last week, Facebook announced that it would begin testing advertisements on its popular Messenger chat app among a small group of users in Australia and Thailand. These ads, Facebook noted, will appear on the homepage of the app, and not within messaged conversations.

Messaging App User Penetration in Thailand, by Platform, Q4 2016 (% of population)

Messenger is the second most popular messaging app in Thailand, according to figures cited in a recent report from We Are Social and Hootsuite. Close to half (48%) of the country’s population polled in Q4 2016 said they use the platform. Messenger continues to trail Line—but not by much—and holds a solid lead over WeChat, which 20% of respondents reported using.

Messenger ads may present a good opportunity for brands to take advantage of established social commerce behaviors among consumers in Thailand, so it will be interesting to see how Facebook’s new initiative plays out in the country.

“Social commerce is huge and growing, because Thailand is one of the highest markets in terms of social media usage, with Facebook, Instagram and Line at the top,” said Pom Pongvitayapanu, CEO and founder of Thai ecommerce marketplace Tarad.com. “For small- and medium-sized businesses [SMBs], social media has become a platform for sales.”

Social media advertising appears to hold sway over a significant portion of mobile device users in Thailand. In a March 2016 survey from Experian Marketing Services, 45% of mobile device owners said their purchasing decisions are either “moderately” or “highly influenced” by social media ads. Additionally, nearly the same percentage said the same about mobile app ads.

These social media ads also are driving offline conversions among consumers in the country. The same survey found that 65% of mobile device owners had made an in-store purchase after viewing ads or other promotions within a social messaging app.

Facebook already commands a large part of digital advertising expenditures in the country. According to Digital Advertising Association (Thailand), advertisers spent THB2.8 billion ($79 million) on Facebook ads in 2016, more than on any other digital ad format.

—Dustin Sodano

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