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Asia’s Eight Digital Dragons And Their Masters Of Marketing

For all its global success, the Internet sector can be remarkably insular, focusing far too heavily on Silicon Valley. But there is a whole world out there–most of which doesn’t speak English. reveals eight of the largest Internet companies in the Asia-Pacific region and the opportunities they offer for marketers.

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Asia’s Eight Digital Dragons And Their Masters Of Marketing

  1. 1. Asia’s Eight Digital Dragons And Their Masters Of Marketing Meet APAC’s Internet giants and the marketing minds behind them The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file.
  2. 2. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file. Alibaba Established in 1998 by chairman Jack Ma and 17 others, Alibaba is arguably the world’s largest e-commerce business. Alibaba is the complete package in that it’s both a huge supply-chain enabler and a retail facilitator. Unlike Amazon, to which it is often compared, Alibaba’s shareholders enjoy robust profitability, with a market capitalization of more than $US200 billion. What’s more, as its recent IPO and plans to spin off its payments arm to compete with the likes of PayPal attest, Alibaba’s aspirations don’t stop at the Chinese border. Of note, Ma is the driving force behind Singles Day, a relatively new annual celebration that encourages the unattached to shop. Alibaba has turned this event into the world’s biggest online shopping day, easily eclipsing Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.
  3. 3. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. Tencent The other Chinese behemoth, Tencent, valued at $US200 billion, has made investments in social networks, Web portals, e- commerce, communications, and advertising, making it one of the world’s 10 biggest Internet companies. Founded by chairman and CEO Pony Ma and then-CTO Tony Zhang in 1998, the company is not shy of a fight. The mobile-first company—whose marketing is predominantly lead by CIO Daniel Xu and COO Mark Ren—squares up against Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba in retail, and against Google in advertising. With WeChat, Tencent has kept Facebook at bay in its local social networking and messaging market. Like Alibaba, Tencent has also hopped into financial services feet-first, having been granted a banking license by Chinese. Tencent’s ability to develop applications and services with the consumer perpetually in mind is a lesson for other businesses looking to operate successfully in a fragmented sector.
  4. 4. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file. Baidu Founded in 2000 and chaired by Robin Li, Chinese search giant Baidu is valued at about $US75 billion. By keeping Google from extending its reach into China (home of the world’s second biggest economy), Baidu is a fierce challenger to Google’s aim of global dominance. The search juggernaut recently delivered its latest (unaudited) results, claiming revenue of $US2 billion and profits of just under $US350 million for the quarter. CFO Jennifer Li, who is also in charge of marketing and communications, has overseen much of this success. Like Google, Baidu is managing the mobile diaspora and has just announced that it now generates more than half of its revenue from mobile platforms.
  5. 5. Described by The New York Times as China’s biggest direct sales retailer, is a huge e-commerce player. CMO Ye Lan played a role in implementing a direct sales platform, providing partnering businesses with a competitive edge. presents marketers in the region with a platform to distribute goods via a same-day or next-day delivery service. Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo recently partnered with by opening a flagship store on its marketplace platform–facilitating rapid and convenient delivery of goods to customers. received a rousing welcome when it listed on the Nasdaq a initial market cap. It is valued at almost $US50 billion today. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file.
  6. 6. This South Korean company was founded in 1999. Now the country’s leading search engine, Naver has become the cornerstone of all local digital marketing campaigns. With its dominance in Korean-language search well established, the company has diversified into other digital platforms, including its popular Line messenger service. This acquisition proved prescient: The app has amassed more than 600 million customers and is now one of the top messaging apps in Southeast Asia. Next stop, according to company communications, is for Naver to list Line on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file. Naver
  7. 7. Social networking and gaming giant Daum Kakao is an influential channel for digital marketing in South Korea and other parts of Asia, second only to Naver in terms of Web traffic. Formed from the 2014 merger of Daum Communications and Kakao, the company is now valued at close to $US6 billion. Daum Kakao has also diversified through the acquisition of leading South Korean messaging service Kakao Talk. The app has 140 million users, is available in 15 languages, and is used by 93% of South Korea’s smartphone owners. CMO Hang Soo Cho has played a key role in marketing Kakao Talk throughout Southeast Asia, expanding through strategic partnerships into Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. Daum Kakao
  8. 8. Valued at more than $US5 billion, the international real- estate advertising business, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, is majority-owned by News Corp. One of the pioneers of Australia’s dot-com sector, helped kick-start the mass migration of print advertising to online. It now provides real-estate advertising services in six countries, including France, Germany, and China, and is using its solid revenue to expand into new data service offerings. is Australia’s most successful Internet play so far, with fertile ground for expansion. Chief product officer Henry Ruiz has been instrumental in driving the company’s success online and in mobile. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file.
  9. 9. E-commerce outfit Flipkart is India’s biggest online retailer in a marketplace analysts estimate to be worth $US8.7 billion. Flipkart has been very clear about its mobile-only strategy since recently acquiring New Delhi-based mobile engagement and marketing automation company Appiterate. Flipkart will integrate Appiterate into its mobile app in a bid to achieve accurate targeting of users based on their activity on the site. Flipkart doesn’t intend to go public for at least three years. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file. Flipkart
  10. 10. The image part with relationship ID rId2 was not found in the file. What’s next? This is just the beginning. Strong economic growth, a rapidly growing middle class, and a highly educated population mean the Asia-Pacific region is poised to produce more digital-marketing superstars. Waiting in the wings in India are brands such as Big Basket, the country's largest online food and grocery business, and mobile and classifieds portal Quikr. China’s Web portal NetEase, discount retailer Vipshop, and Internet security company Qihoo 360 are already reaching valuations north of $US5 billion. The next digital giant is just as likely to emerge from Nanjing or Mumbai as it is from Silicon Valley. See related infographic: “2015 CMO's Guide To The Social Landscape”