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August 18, 2008

Search Around the World – Part 1: Asia/Pacific & Latin America

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It’s a foggy morning in San Jose, and although wandering around the conference hall reminds me that I’m away from home, starting off the show on the World View track reminds me that I’m not actually that far at all. Moderator Anne Kennedy, managing partner and founder of Beyond Ink, reminds the audience that in the U.S. we are often inwardly focused and forget about other countries. Here we’ll learn about how to target Asian and Latin American markets.

T.R. Harrington, Director of Strategic Direction & Product Development at Darwin Marketing will start us off with a look at China.

On the slide is a fortune cookie that says, “Lies, Lies and More Lies: China’s online user behaviors are like the West.” He says this is a Western misconceptions and that China’s users are different than Western users.

China has 254 million users. Chinese users are driven to the Internet as their medium of choice for entertainment and communication.

Chinese users are more engaged. They haven’t previously had a way to express themselves. So now they are embracing the ways to communicate. Bulletin board systems (BBS) are popular, with nearly 12M daily searches on Baidu’s BBS search product alone.

Online games are used 6 times more in China. For about 25 cents an hour you can play games in Internet cafes. Chinese Internet users are spending hours playing virtual games like Shanda, personalizing their avatars and spending virtual currency.

Online advertising and search are both growing rapidly in China
-Rising Internet population
-Significant growth in Web pages and sites
-Larger number of SMEs adopting search due to higher ROI
-Low penetration (2.5percent) among SMEs

Baidu vs. Google
-Baidu’s share is 71percent of search traffic
-Google’s share is 23percent

Baidu is laid out differently than Google. Baidu has previously put ads before the organic results but is experimenting with putting ads in a right-hand column.

Baidu has been rapidly releasing products. In the last two years they are introducing 14.5 new products per year. The three years before that it was 8 new products annually. They provide significant opportunities for the market.

Baidu Search Implications
Paid Search
-Higher click-through rates (assumed; Baidu provides no CTR)
-Faster CPC price increases (Jan-May 70percent in select industries): When someone sees a keyword is working, everyone will jump on the bandwagon, which drives up the price.
-Relatively few optimization variables

Natural Search
-Keyword selection methodology
-Traffic estimation tools in China are unreliable

Moving on to Japan, up next is Motoko Hunt, founder and Japanese search marketing strategist at AJPR.

At 39 percent, the Internet population in Asia is larger than the population in Europe and North America.
-89 million on Internet
-70 percent penetration
-85 percent on broadband

What’s hot?
-Mobile Internet: Web, e-commerce, blog, SNS, video, etc. (The Internet may even be more commonly accessed through mobile)
-SNS: Mixi is one of the most popular
-Blogs: Blogs have been made into books, TV shows and movies
-Video: YouTube and Nico Nico Douga

Print ads often include a picture of a search box that includes the keyword you could use to find them. This helps them manage their bidding costs by using unique keywords that don’t have as high of costs.

They also include QR codes – a small box that can be scanned by mobile phones that has all the information about the site and can be accessed later.

Mobile Internet
-Mobile Web: i-mode, EZweb, Yahoo
-More Internet access
-official and non-official sites

Language should be a major consideration. The Japanese search engines serve pages that are in Japanese. If you want to show up in Japanese search engines you must have your site in Japanese.

There are four sets of characters and letters used in the Japanese language. Some words have multiple translations, and they will all have a different amount of search traffic. This is important to keep in mind during translations.

Typing a domain name in a search box will bring the user directly to the Web site rather than showing search results.

Other facts about the market in Japan
-Shopping
-Payment options: credit cards, mobile, wire transfer, net banking, cash on delivery, pay at convenience stores. In Japan, credit cards are not the only payment option; consumers expect to have options.
-Points vs. coupons: US shoppers use coupons while Japan shoppers like points.

Consider
-Localize it, don’t just translate it.
-Conduct extensive keyword research
-Have room to adapt what works in Japan
-Consider different doorways to approach Japan market

From Asia we move over to South America with Alicia Morga, CEO, Consorte Media.

She says that she’s actually going to start off with the U.S. Hispanic market. A lot of what’s going on in Latin America is a precursor for what’s happening with the U.S. Hispanic community.

There are over 44 million U.S. Hispanics and 23 million are online. There’s still of lot of penetration growth available.

U.S. Hispanics are highly engaged online
-60 percent have Internet access and the number is growing fast
-Spend 9 percent more time online than non-Hispanics

English-dominant speakers make up 52 percent of U.S. Hispanics online, 27 percent is bilingual dominant and 21 percent is Spanish dominant.

Spanish-dominant users are the fastest-growing online segment. While the U.S. Hispanic market is just 2 percent of the total search market worldwide, they are growing by 5 percent year over year.

Now we’ll take a look at Latin America. There are 53 million Latin American Internet users. The global average of hours per month is 25 hours, while the average in Latin America is higher, at 29 hours.

Key insights about the Hispanic market
-U.S. Hispanics are comfortable performing searches in both English and Spanish
-Language matters: results differ by including accents or using the English or Spanish language Google.

She uses Best Buy Espanol as a case study. In November they translated their site into Spanish. They were immediately indexed and got huge traffic. The problem was that they were showing up in Spain and Latin America but they didn’t have the ability to ship there. They hired Consorte to focus their traffic to U.S. Spanish speakers. They found that Hispanics were spending five times more time on the Spanish language site while conversions were higher in the English shopping cart. She credits this to Hispanics traditionally not trusting e-commerce.

How should you go about keyword research?
Alicia Morga: Grab a Latin American from the country you are trying to target. Keyword research tools don’t work.
Motoko Hunt: Look at the search data for the most queried, relevant terms, and get a local person to help. Again, the available tools don’t work.
T.K. Harrington: The existing tools don’t apply. Start with a small paid search campaign to estimate what keywords will be best. Then compare your estimates to the data to fine tune. A local speaker always helps, and for China you may need to be as detailed as the specific province you’re targeting.

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