MANILA – On January 23, Google officially introduced a Philippine arm to its already four-strong Southeast Asian presence, arriving in a market where rival Yahoo! is an established brand with a content-driven strategy.
Country manager for the Philippines Narciso Reyes, who spoke at the launch event, said that he and his team were looking to introduce Google as “part of everyday Filipino lives and as a partner in the development of local communities, culture and business” and Tweeted that “The PH office will help the country get more out of Google.”
Google’s entry in the Philippine market, some five years after competitor Yahoo!, has resulted in some speculation on the part of both industry insiders and the public at large on the direction the company’s operational strategy will take.
MRM Philippines’ managing director Donald Lim said that Google’s entering was “belated”, but that “I am curious what kind of outreach they will have to educate agencies about their products.” Lim went on to state that part of the inherent challenge of a primarily-search engine-based business model was a tricky proposition in the Philippines, as the market is, “not search-oriented, which is Google’s model, but more social. We call upon our friends and family for recommendations, which is better suited to a social media model”.
Lim’s sentiments were echoed by IMMAP President Miguel Ramos, who noted the challenge inherent in promoting search in a more “social-oriented” market, but he went on to share with adobo that, “Google and social networks can play specific roles in terms of the needs of brands to engage and provide information. While there is a strong inclination to go towards social for Filipinos in general, the need for specific content that is targeted and passes high Google quality scores are likewise essential. More so in light of the focus of clients away from stand-alone brand sites to Facebook fan pages and the like. There is synergy in the way Google search can likewise be used to optimize brand assets on Facebook.
Lim expressed more optimism for Google’s sister company, YouTube, saying, “As they (Google) work with agencies, they will see a spike in demand for videos and creative ad executions on YouTube. Content seems to be the trend for 2013, and interactive and entertaining content, would be led and executed to the form of videos. YouTube is in a very prime position to take advantage and lead the digital wave for 2013. Search on the other hand, is expected to take an upward climb, especially SEM, as the long tail of business has yet to develop any clear drive to website. Google Display Advertising, however, will remain to be consistently in demand by brands for interaction and awareness measures.”