Publishing in one of the world’s most demanding environments – Vietnam

Speaking at FIPP Asia in Singapore today, Olander admitted that although data is “incredibly hard to come by” in Vietnam, what is available is paramount. 

Eric Olander cropped ()

Vietnam is one of the most demanding media environments in the world,” said Olander, but with knowledge of basic trends, culture change and innovation is possible. “One of the biggest mistakes I see is publishers thinking that search and social is a young person’s game. It’s not. The only key differences are in how it’s accessed.”

Search, social, video Vietnam ()

Shift to social

“The audience is leaving us behind,” said Olander. We’ve been too slow to change. If an audience has moved to search, social and video, and you don’t follow, they’re gone!”

“Many audiences are shifting to Facebook (The Vietnamese have 35 million Facebook accounts), which is a disaster for us,” he continued. Google and Facebook are devouring the digital ad market. 

Google and Facebook in Vietnam ()

There is some good news though, digital revenue is growing in Vietnam, according to Olander. Banners are still working (probably down to programmatic), but digital revenue is also increasing due to TV, print and digital.

Video in Vietnam

The Vietnamese love to watch video, and are 14th worldwide in terms of monthly active users as well as being the number one country for time spent watching YouTube. But why? “First, there’s free WiFi everywhere,” said Olander. “Second, Facebook and Google have removed data charges for using their services. By subsidising these costs, YouTube’s growth has taken off.”

Vietnam YouTube ()

Time to change

“Ringier needed to align with the trends of search, social and video, and therefore created its LABS division, sic months ago.”  Ringier LABS produces TV quality Facebook Live productions, super-low budget branded content and innovative video classified product. This is all very well, but culture change is hard. Olander concluded by identifying the struggles within sales, clients and product managers, and how this affects culture change: 

Ringier challenges ()


“Sales people how to sell their rate card, but a conversation about new products terrifies them. We’ve been doing six months of training. It’s slow, but it’s getting there. Getting sales people to better sell is challenge number one. If you can’t activate sales people, it all falls apart. We create great stories, that’s one of the things Facebook and Google can’t do. Don’t sell reach, because as soon as client compares us to any top 10 portal, we’ve lost the reach game. Reach is not the be all and end all. Quality is. Sales is also often very ignorant – they can talk about their products but they don’t know what’s going on in the market.”


“They are confused about metrics, only want reach for the most part and have unrealistic expectations.”

Product managers

“They’re about putting video into product mix because it’s a risk and hesitant to change.”

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