Online Advertising in Thailand: Does it Exist?
If you are an expat in Thailand or a very fluent reader of English – and they DO exist here… you may have asked yourself the question… is there any online advertising in Thailand? Can I advertise my site on other sites in Thailand and have it make a difference at all? Does Google Adsense and Adwords work for all types of sites? The answers to these and more are within the scope of this article.
Internet advertising (online advertising) is only in its infancy here in Thailand.
I’ve heard some great things from Thai people – regarding the attention they pay to advertisements – they EAT THEM UP. People on the streets, in the cars, or riding the motorbikes are looking at the signs for everything. They’re reading the ads. I used to help my friend put up stickers around the city for an English course she was having and we’d put the stickers at the bus terminals, near schools, near hospitals, at stores, etc. You know, there were many times I was driving around after that and saw people actually reading the signs! I saw 2 monks reading the ad we had put up!
Advertising and marketing work here in Thailand – though it’s kind of hard to monetize at the present. Thais don’t readily give credit card numbers over the internet – or use their ATM cards online much at all. There is a growing percentage of Thais that HAVE credit cards and ATMS that could be used as a debit card or a VISA, but very, very few in the general population – maybe 5%? It’s only a guess. I don’t think more than that.
Just about EVERYONE has an ATM card here in Thailand. Transfers of cash, if needed, can be made at the ATM machine and transferred to someone else’s account to pay for something. Stores in Bangkok offer this option. Thais’ can surf their electronics stores and order online – promising to send the money by ATM transfer. Once transferred they can notify the store it was completed and the store will send the merchandise.
Now… how does this relate to your website in Thailand – and blogging in Thailand? Well, you aren’t likely to have ANYONE pay by credit card for something that you have for sale online. E-commerce in this manner is just about non-existent. It happens, but it isn’t something that you need to even pursue right now. Forget about a shopping cart system for your website selling products or services to Thai people. It just won’t work well. You’ve gotta go with the flow. The flow is toward getting them to use their ATM transfer of funds to monetize your site.
So, you must give your bank information to potential buyers of your service if you are hoping to have some sales as a result of your online efforts.
Since being here I’ve transferred money to pay for my rent (7000 baht), I’ve bought a hard drive online, and I’ve transferred money to pay for the 2nd half of a motorbike payment. All transactions went smoothly and I have the feeling that they usually do. Thais’ use the ATM transfer system to do a lot of things – even loaning money to each other in denominations of only a couple hundred baht. They are charged sometimes 20 or even 40 baht for a transfer, but it’s all most of them have.
I think that if you have a web site in Thailand you should try to hit the people that have the cash… College students have some cash, but more importantly, they might have access to more cash because they can go to EZ BUY or somewhere to get fast loans. These loans are paid off over a great amount of time and are not followed up on all that well. I have heard of many Thais that buy cars also in this way… they buy a new car… put down the deposit, and then don’t make another payment – and they are driving the car for on average 6-12 months – because the follow-up by the bank to collect on the debt is very slow and inefficient. I know Thai students here that have maxed out their school loans and then gone to EZ BUY or EZ CASH – I forget the name and get another loan, max it out and don’t pay it either.
There is little accountability in Thailand and the Thais’ know it. Some are using it to their advantage. Others are slow to catch on. Others are morally opposed to it – but it seems that the country is moving away from the morality of traditional Buddhism and more in line with doing what it takes to have what everyone else has. “FACE” is a major issue that the Thais’ MUST have to preserve social standing and their own sense of identity – so it’s of little wonder why things are going as they are.
Blogging with Google Adsense on your blog is hitting English readers and Google’s English based servers. You can add some Thai keywords to your site and probably do quite well with increasing your Thai traffic, but, if your Google ads are clicked on by those in Thailand – it might not do you any good. Advertisers with Google’s Adsense program can choose what countries they will accept clicks from – and pay for those clicks from. If they did not check off Thailand as a place that their ads should be “clickable” they will not pay for the click – and you, as the site owner will not get paid for the click either.
That being said, your best bet for blogging in Thailand – or for running a site geared toward making money (from Thailand)… you should have your site hosted on US-based web servers. The speed of serving your web pages is critical as the latest accepted figure for how long a person will wait for a new web site’s first page to load after clicking a link for it – is an average of just 4 seconds.
If your site is hosted in Thailand – it might be 4 seconds before Thailand’s mishmash of servers, proxies, and routers can do anything at all except receive your request for a page. Thai pages being served in Thailand to outside countries is horrendously slow. TOO slow for you to host your site in Thailand.
Great blogging platforms that exist now and that have servers in the USA are:
Blogger.com (owned by Google, and my personal favorite. Very simple and intuitive to set up)
TypePad.com a simple blog might be free, but most of their blogging systems are pay for service and some swear by them.
wordpress.com – a very customizable blogging platform that programmers and others that like to tinker with EVERYTHING – usually choose.
If you are having someone build a site for you – you should check out “Godaddy.com” web hosting as they have PHENOMENAL deals on sites. My www.ThaiPulse.com site has 100 gigabytes of server space I can use and 1000 gigabytes of file transfer per MONTH I can use. I can serve videos all day and night and not have to worry about using up my bandwidth allotment. Guess how much that site cost for 12 months (pre-paid)? About $68 dollars USD. That is a BARGAIN! I’ve tested the speed of the site and it’s VERY fast. The prices on web sites have really come down. You can pay Godaddy with a credit card or even PayPal! So, no excuses, go with a US-based server. PLEASE!
If you know you need to advertise to the English speaking population of Thailand – the westerners and the Thais’ you can create a banner or button (graphic) advertisement and pay the sites that have a lot of traffic, to run your advertisement on their site for a certain amount of money usually per month, often times paid for by quarter so they know they have income and that slot filled for 3 months at a time.
Depending what you’re site is – this option may work ok. Try to get a 1-month test and see if the ad works for you by bringing in a good number of visitors that lead to sales – and makes the ad worthwhile. Many millions of dollars are thrown away by people that have ads that aren’t pulling their weight. It’s a hole in the pocket that you can’t let go on and on. Change the ad, change the location of the ad, change the terms of the ad… change everything to see if it can be made to work – and if not – ditch it.
I worked with one company in the USA where I was to examine their online marketing efforts and tell them what they’re doing wrong. The first thing I saw was that they were paying $9000 USD to go.com for ads on the site that were triggered off search engine searches… that brought VERY LITTLE in return. They hadn’t followed up properly to see how much they were getting back, they just figured they were doing gangbusters because Go.com was so successful for a while there. I cancelled that program after a few days of working there. Go.com was a bit upset and offered us all kinds of free ad placements if we kept up the account, but there was no point.
SO, it doesn’t MATTER the quality of the site you are advertising on… it doesn’t mean MONEY for you… it means money for THEM, your money… and money for you is only if you are diligent in making it work for you.
With Google adsense running on your blog – you are the advertiser and the companies that are displaying ads on your site – via Google’s magic are hoping that your site relates to their ads and catches a portion of the people on your site – with a click off to their ad and their site.
Google pays you anywhere from 8 cents to a couple dollars per click on those ads. And, this is where choosing a good topic for your blog is important. Advertisers that are paying Google to run their ads are bidding for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on, spots on your blog pages.
Say your site if focused on “MCSE training” – this is a Microsoft certification training course that is very popular – or at least was years ago. The competition for people that have a training package for helping someone get certified is VERY HIGH. These companies try to outbid each other on the terms and get to the 1st spot on your blog because everyone knows that the 1st spot gets the most clicks (usually).
Back when I was keeping up with this phrase “mcse training” some companies were paying as much as $8.00 USD PER CLICK on it to Google. You would get a portion of that – I think half if I’m not mistaken. For anyone that clicked that ad in the number one spot in the Google ads on your blog you’d make $4.00. That’s a LOT for one click. If you had 10 clicks per day you’d be making $1200 usd just on that one ad. You could retire in Thailand on that if you knew it would continue… but you know it may not!
Now, contrast this example with choosing to focus your blog on something that companies are not spitting at each other to compete over.
You focus your blog on toenail cutters. Toenail cutters retail for about 40 baht here in Thailand. That’s 1 dollar usd. How much money do you think one advertiser could afford to spend to bring one person from your toenail cutter blog to their site that sells toenail cutters? Exactly – VERY little. In fact,
Google has a 10 cent minimum on all bids for ads – so this would be one of those categories where NOBODY in their right mind would bid even 10 cents per click to put an ad on your site for toenail cutters since if 10 people clicked on the ad at your site leading to their site – and nobody bought toenail clippers – the company just ate the loss. It would be a great conversion rate if a company could sell one of 10 visitors to their site – a product. That’d be a really good conversion rate.
So – the focus – the topic of your blog must be something that relates well to other companies products and for products that have a high value.
Digital cameras, phones, camcorders, mp3 players, DVD players, radios, computers, notebooks are all examples of high-dollar items that do VERY well online. If you had a blog that had a high number of visitors reading it daily and you had ads all over your site, chances are good you’d be doing ok for money. Problem is – these are all VERY competitive e-commerce areas.
The trick then is to find something that isn’t overdone, and is still viable. That’s always the issue… What to blog about!
On the other hand, you could choose to ignore the product topic type blog completely – like I did.
ThaiPulse isn’t focused on any products.
I created this general purpose blog with the idea that I could write so many different articles about Thailand that eventually Google would rank me highly in it’s search engine results for certain subjects that people are searching on everyday. Once this happens I would start to get a lot of readers and some of them would click ads sometimes.
So, by focusing generally on living in Thailand I can write about travel, gadgets, islands, hotels, real estate here, and other topics that have some competition among advertisers and can lead to decent ads on my site which, when clicked, pay me some small amount. The only way I’d be rolling in cash is if I was pulling 40000 visitors per day here. That will likely not happen. But, I can supplement my income with the blog with even a few thousand people per day.
You’ll have to decide what you want to focus on, and, how much competition you want from others. If you can find a new or up and coming product to focus on and you start blogging about it NOW, you can have the jump on others that haven’t even started and will only start after the product arrives.
The iPhone was a prime example of this. I started a short blog the day it was announced just to see if I got any traffic – I did get a few hundred visitors – but had I started a month prior – I may have really done well with that blog. I have since given it up as the competition is HUGE for it right now.
Online advertising exists in Thailand. Right now I’m guessing that it’s only good to find other English speaking and reading visitors on the web. You should familiarize yourself with some of the big names in Thailand’s expat community because some of them are pulling 20,000 visitors per day and possibly more.
Currently ThaiPulse and the other sites I’ve started are only doing half a thousand or so unique visitors per day, so it may be another 6 months before we’re a good place to advertise to reach a lot of people. But, if you’re interested I’ll talk to you about online advertising with this blog.