Singapore is, by most measures, a leading digital nation. 

Nearly 9 out of 10 households have broadband access and enjoy the world's fastest average peak conection speed (135.7Mb/s).

Driverless cars are already roaming its well-groomed streets.

And, to top it off, the government sponsors regular hackathons to help improve the country's digital footprint

Yet, according to our recent report on media budgets, Singapore is still experiencing digital growing pains.

The report

Econsultancy, in association Datalicious, recently published its Media Budgets Index which compares media spending with the time people spend consuming various media.

The report asks, are marketers adapting to our new digital world, and changing their spending accordingly. Or do old habits die hard?

To answer these and other questions, the Media Budgets Index analyses data from five markets from across the globe and offers insights into each region covered.

Subscribers can download the report and there will be two webinars to discuss the contents of the report, one for the UK and another for APAC:

Below is an overview of a few of the surprising findings about the Southeast Asian city-state, Singapore.

1. Singapore's marketers overspend on print

The clearest takeaways from the report come from looking at whether the amount companies spend advertising on media corresponds with the amount of time consumers spend looking at the media.

That is, if consumers spend equal amount of time reading the paper and looking at their smartphone, then marketers should spend equally on print and mobile ads.

This, however, is not the case in Singapore.

One enormous discrepancy concerns print. Singaporeans spend just 10% of their time reading printed content, yet the medium commands 42% of all advertising expenditure.

This is the highest discrepancy between media time and advertising spend per channel across the five markets studied in the report. It is also against the trend of the decline and fall of print in Western nations.

2. And they underspend on digital!

Singaporean marketers' overspending on print means that there is underspending elsewhere. Oddly enough for such a connected nation, this underspend is on digital media.

Singapore's citizens spend 38% of their time consuming online media, but only 13% of media budgets are spent on digital media.

That looks bad on its own, but have a look at how it compares globally. Digital accounts for 27% of media budgets in the US, 38% in the UK and 43% in Australia and New Zealand. 

So, despite enjoying the world's fastest high-speed broadband, Singapore's marketers seem to be stuck at dial-up speed.

3. But Singapore is ahead of everyone by one measure

Singaporean marketers, however, are ahead of many other nations when it comes to digital marketing tracking and analysis.

More than three in five (61%) Singapore marketers use attribution to measure marketing effectiveness, compared to just 39% in Australia and New Zealand, and 34% in the US. 

Interestingly, however, marketers in Singapore are more likely to spend money on branding than direct response marketing, according to the report.

4. And marketers are less keen on TV than most others in Asia

Despite the interest in branding, though, respondents from Singapore were less likely to deem TV as 'very effective' than their counterparts in India (29% vs. 59%) or across Asia (50% on average).  

That puts Singaporean marketers at a similar level as their US and UK counterparts (both 21% for 'very effective').

The digital shift

So it seems that Singapore is well on its way to becoming the world's premier digital nation.

However the Media Budget Index shows that the road is not all smooth. Marketers in Singapore need to take another look at how much time is being spent on digital media and adjust spending accordingly.

The CEO of Datalicious, Christian Bartens, had this to say about the findings:

It's a curious finding in a nation which is a rapid adopter of technology to see a more traditional approach to media spend.

I expect with greater adoption of sophisticated attribution methodologies marketers will be able to see where success is coming from and adopt a more balanced approach to media planning.

And with Singapore leading the way with marketing attribution, it's quite likely that he's right.

Jeff Rajeck

Published 13 June, 2016 by Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck is the APAC Research Analyst for Econsultancy . You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.  

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