Spotlight conversation with Dominic Powers, SVP, Asia Pacific, Epsilon
Q: What is the state of the e-mail market in the Asia Pacific region?
A: The e-mail market in the Asia Pacific region is very fragmented in terms of both sophistication and scale. Asia is currently home to 58% of the world's population, but only has about 37% of the world's Internet users — 459 million people. Behind these numbers lies a market that is very diverse both culturally and economically, with Japan, Korea and Australia having some of the highest global Internet penetration rates of any nation, but developing countries with very large populations such as India and Indonesia having very low penetration rates.
But scale and penetration do not always tell the full story — China has a population of 1.32 billion people with about 190 million active Internet users (15%). By the end of 2008 this is expected to be north of 240 million people, surpassing even the US.
Q: So is it the case that China is still a developing e-mail market?
A: In China's e-mail market it is possible to see the two extremes of development and everything in between. Online gaming and c-to-c auction sites lead the way in scale, but organizations in travel and tourism that rely on the Internet for revenue are adopting advanced segmentation and optimization practices akin to those of their industry colleagues in North America or Europe.
We estimate the e-mail market in Asia is still only worth about $500 million. However, as we face the prospect of a global slowdown — or worse, recession — we are very confident of the market's growth prospects. The smart money will be focusing on programs that can demonstrate clear ROI, as CFOs and CEOs push for justification on every dollar spent on marketing.
Q: Is Asia Pacific seeing the adoption of authentication and reputation tools, mirroring the trend in the US?
A: Yes. Deliverability is a key issue for organizations in Asia too. With an increasing number of cross-border activities that touch multiple ISPs and mailbox providers in multiple territories, marketers are looking to do all they can to drive deliverability and ultimately ROI. This includes both internationally recognized tools such as Domain Keys, Sender ID/SPF and Sender Score Certified, in addition to local authentication on a country-by-country level.
Q: What key issues are you seeing and what changes, if any, should we expect to see in the coming year?
A: The market in Asia is maturing fast. The online world used to be two to three years behind North America and Europe, this is now not the case, and in some respects it is even more advanced than the rest of the world, being driven by mobile penetration and the speed of consumer adoption of new technologies. E-mail is moving beyond the desktop PC and laptop to mobile devices, and where you will see marketers distinguishing themselves is in the way that they are able to successfully drive increasingly more relevant content and offers, with calls to action that are based on a consumer's surroundings.