The Korean Mobile Landscape: Past, Present, Future

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As the year turns and budgets are created and spent, companies of all types will be asking themselves which new markets to enter and how to advertise locally.

Korea has become a hot target. In a country where LTE connections can be found in caves, it’s no surprise that–despite being the size of Indiana–Korea ranked 5th in mobile game spending by the end of 2016.

We’ll talk more about the benefits of advertising in Korea in a moment, but first let’s take a moment to review the past and present of the mobile landscape.

Above are 2 infographics detailing the potential digital advertising paths in Korea in 2014 versus 2016. What a difference 2 years makes! The sheer number of service providers has exploded. New venues appear in the 2016 chart as well, such as native MCNs and FMPs (Facebook Marketing Partners).

On paper, a company coming into Korea has more choices than ever, but for smaller companies, this choice can actually become an impediment. Of course, a full service ad agency could take care of every step…as well as a chunk of your profits. So, if you’re planning on going it alone, how do you get started? Well, let’s start with an example of a simple video ad for a game.

Why the video format?

Mobile video advertising is huge in Korea right now and will probably continue to be well into the future.  Why? First things first, Koreans aren’t scared off by video ads—sitting at #1 in LTE penetration (97% of the country is covered) fast wireless data is cheap and ubiquitous here. So, a clever, short video ad in Korea won’t fail because of technical issues.

Also, because of Korea’s “go go go” culture of late nights spent at school or in the office, mobile has become a media consumption platform that rivals television. In fact, among certain age groups, internet-only content has supplanted television so thoroughly that advertisers have been left scratching their heads at how to reach, say 13-24 year olds.

Brands such as Coca-Cola Korea and Hite Jinro have leveraged Facebook video ads to reach a young audience that is barely watching television anymore. [Coke’s Facebook Campaign, Jinro’s Facebook Campaign]

And Facebook is just one example. In-app video ad-networks such as Vungle and AdColony have local offices, making sure that localization is on-point and hitting those gamers right where they live…in the game!

Speaking of localization, the importance of an ad that resonates with locals can’t be overstated. Just check out this list of embarrassing translation-fails.  Local agencies, such as Latis, can help make sure that your content is timely, attractive, and local!

The last step is community management and SNS. Once Korean users hear about your app, you’ll need a place where they can congregate, talk to each other, and talk to you the developer as well.

With this trifecta—a localized video ad, proper targeting, and Social Media Community Management—your app will gain a foothold in Korea in no time!

Not so scary, right?

This is just one possibility, for one type of ad and platform. But as you can see, Korea isn’t THAT different from advertising in your home country, it just takes some boots on the ground!

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