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5 Digital Marketing Trends in APAC for 2022

The majority of the world’s internet users live in Asia 

With over 2.5 billion internet users, which amounts to about 55% of all internet users, the Asia Pacific region boasts the highest number of internet users in the world. The region has also gone through a vast and rapid digital transformation over the past few years, a result of the global pandemic. 

This widespread internet adoption and changes brought on by digital transformation has resulted in great development within the digital marketing sector. We take a look at five digital marketing trends we expect to see this year across the APAC region, along with key takeaways for each.   

1. AI will be used to improve advertisements & marketing strategies 

More companies have been using and will continue to use artificial intelligence to improve customer experience, personalisation, and creative testing. Data from AI-based applications can help marketers tremendously to extract customer insights, which can help align marketing, sales, and customer service goals. 

Using AI to do things like improve user segmentation, ad optimisation, budget allocation, sales forecasting and more can be especially useful in APAC, where there is a wide range of languages, cultures, and markets. This technology can help companies save time and money while communicating more effectively with their customers. It is also used in digital advertising to improve copywriting, personalisation, and segmentation. 

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

The takeaway: As more AI tools and apps pop up, marketers must be more strategic and intentional about how they choose to use AI. Although it can help cut costs and improve efficiencies, it should also be used to make better, more informed decisions that benefit local customers. 

2. Marketers will adjust to new privacy laws 

Although the elimination of cookies has been pushed back to 2023, the phasing out of third-party data will no doubt be heavy on the minds of marketers in 2022. This will certainly be a huge blow to many, as one study found that 80% of advertisers rely on cookies to reach their customers and personalise ads. However, a study by Dentsu revealed that 60% of marketers are not familiar with tracking prevention or are unsure about the consequences of the eradication of cookies on their business. This indicates that this new policy change is not yet well understood by the majority of marketers. 

Since the introduction of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), many countries in Asia have followed suit with their own privacy rules and regulations. China has adopted the ‘Personal Information Protection Law,’ Japan has introduced the ‘Amendments to the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI),’ and Singapore’s law is titled, ‘Amendments to the Personal Data Protection (PDPA).’  

To prepare for a cookieless world, marketers should prioritise building direct relationships with their customers, invest in technology that prioritises privacy, and establish clear privacy policies to gain their customer’s trust through transparency. 

The takeaway: We expect a lot of conversation around this in 2022. Marketers should be proactive in learning about data privacy and what they can do to prepare for the loss of cookies. 

3. B2B Influencer Marketing will continue to grow 

The sheer popularity of social media in Asia has given rise to influencer marketing. Even B2B brands have embraced influencer marketing, with companies like NetApp Japan and Lenovo Japan partnering up with influencers in 2021. 

We expect this trend to continue in 2022. Influencer marketing campaigns are particularly effective for B2B businesses hoping to increase brand awareness, reach new target customers, increase sales, or improve their brand image. 

Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

While platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are dominant in the West, marketers should pay attention to which platforms are most popular in their target market and localise their marketing campaigns accordingly. For example, WeChat reigns supreme in China, LINE is popular in Japan, and Kakaotalk is big in South Korea. For more on the most popular social media platforms in APAC, please refer to our guide here.  

Influencer marketing best practices and etiquette may also be different in your specific target market, so it is important to do thorough research on what works best, depending on the country. 

The Takeaway: Before jumping into influencer marketing, be sure to do your search on relevant influencers, local etiquette, and popular social media platforms in your target market. 

4. Voice search will affect SEO 

The popularity of voice search is increasing every year. Consumers are using it to shop, get directions, text friends, and get answers from search engines. It is particularly popular in the Asia Pacific region, as 49% of respondents in this study by Statista stated that they had accessed voice search recently, making this “region the clear leader in terms of voice search adoption”. 

Therefore, marketers will need to also adjust their strategies to align with this new user behaviour. For example, the way people search online is different depending on if they are typing it versus saying it out loud. When searching for marketing automation tools, one might type out ‘best martech tools 2022’. But when using voice search, one might instead say, “What are the best marketing automation tools this year?”

Also, while Google is the dominant search engine in the West, usage differs in APAC. For example, Yahoo! JAPAN is popular in Japan, Baidu is most used in China, and Naver is favoured in South Korea. This is something marketers will need to consider when marketing in Asia, as the algorithm may also differ depending on the search engine the customer is using. For more on the most popular search engines across APAC, please refer to our article here. 

The Takeaway: As voice search becomes more popular, it is important to update your keyword strategy so that it is localised for the target language, behaviour trends, and preferred platforms. 

5. Ecommerce will continue to grow 

COVID-19 has spurred even more enthusiasm for ecommerce across the region. A study by Bain & Company and Facebook found that people in Southeast Asia are buying more essential goods online, with 28% having tried a new ecommerce for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The study also found that live ecommerce, in which products are sold via live stream, has also grown in popularity. 39% of all ecommerce engagements happen through live ecommerce, while the remaining 61% involve traditional ecommerce. People are also now more receptive to grocery shopping online: 43% of respondents said they shopped online for packaged groceries in 20201.

Marketing technology company Criteo also saw a huge spike in ecommerce sales across the region, particularly around Singles’ Day (November 11) in 2020. Sales in Malaysia and Thailand increased by 600% and 305% respectively and Singapore’s sales grew 248%. 

Japan’s ecommerce market also saw immense growth, as COVID-19 drew an unprecedented number of Japanese people to online food delivery and shopping platforms. Shopify even reported that Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales grew 350% in 2020. 

Ecommerce usage is expected to continue even after the pandemic. One study of APAC consumers, conducted by Adobe in 2020, found that 74% of respondents cited an intention to include more online shopping in their future shopping habits. It also found that Chinese and Indian shoppers were most likely to report an increase in online shopping2

As with social media platforms, the preferred ecommerce platforms vary greatly across the region. Thus, it’s important for brands to adjust their strategy to fit the local market. Please refer to our blog posts on Japan’s most popular ecommerce platforms and ecommerce marketplaces for more information on the ecommerce landscape in Japan. 

The Takeaway: This change in consumer behaviour presents a huge opportunity for companies to reach new and existing customers online. Brands can use various channels such as social media, PPC ads, email marketing, website traffic and more to drive customers to their online stores. 

Reach the Asia Pacific market in 2022

Be sure to keep the above five trends and takeaways in mind when building out your cross-border strategy this year. Should Japan be part of your expansion strategy, we at DMFA are ready to assist you. 

Our team of bilingual Japanese experts can support you or your agency with online ads, ecommerce strategy, SEO localisation, social media marketing, and more. Get in touch to learn more about our services and how our consultants can support you.



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