The shifting digital economy is something I’ve written about in depth previously, with the main focus of my thoughts being the BRIC countries and other parts of Asia.

Recently, though, I’m seeing growing evidence pointing towards the fact that Australia should probably be given an equal amount of due care and attention as these other countries in the coming few years, by marketers both inside and outside the country.

There’s rapidly growing opinion within the financial markets that the strength of Australian currency is going to be long-term, as is the country’s healthy overall economy, which forms a key factor behind my change of perspective. 

The second element is the emerging state of the digital industry in Australia. Fuelled by readily available technology and Government initiatives, consumer digital adoption is at an all-time high, and arguably the digital industry is struggling to keep up. 

During the creation of Econsultancy’s State of Digital Marketing in Australia report (in association with Marketing Magazine), various complexities in the current digital environment of the country were identified but, at the core of this, one theme in particular emerges. 

Although consumers are increasingly becoming highly active online, digital marketers in the region are finding a challenging marketplace.

This is due to a number of reasons which are explored in the report itself, such as a lack of leadership from senior management and widespread digital skills knowledge gaps. 

Consequently, this forms into two different areas of opportunity, as in any emerging digital economy:

1. The need for internal marketers to adopt a rapid “do-or-die” approach to the marketplace to take advantage of online adoption among consumers.

2. The opening for external marketers to take advantage of a relatively insular marketplace, where hisorical barriers of entry are being lowered by associated technologies. 

The first point is pressing, especially in relation to second. Without national organisations in the local online space, consumers are turning to international sites. 

This, in turn, is resulting in these companies identifying gaps in the market and to start moving quickly to secure their place, often using other independent platforms such as eBay to establish themselves. 

Currently, there are a  number of recognised brands tactically targeting Australian consumers and even Amazon is rumoured to be eyeing the possibility of setting up a fixed base, which potentially could strike a huge blow to national retailers. 

As one respondent to the survey succinctly put it: 

It doesn’t help that the Australian dollar is so strong, as this is encouraging international online shopping behaviour.

I realise that these points are broad generalisations, but the evidence does currently point towards these factors and is equally apparent in the Australian State of Digital Marketing report. 

However, it looks like any international marketers wanting to cut a slice of the pie in the country will increasingly have their work cut out, as the marketplace appears to have reached a tipping point, where digital is climbing to the top of the agenda.

When asked if they were planning to increase marketing budgets over the coming year, a massive 70% of client-side marketers intend to up their digital budgets in 2012, compared to less than a quarter (24%) who cited the same for traditional, offline budgets.  

Supply-side respondents also demonstrate a similar picture, with 81% saying that their clients’ digital budgets will increase, contrasted with 14% who say that the offline budgets of clients will rise this year. 

Findings in the report also show that the digital landscape in Australia is rapidly shifting, as local marketers are aggressively planning to seize the low-hanging fruit that can be found, again meaning that outside organisations may struggle in the future to find a foothold. 

Overall, the emerging digital economy in the country won’t be on the same kind of scale as is visible in countries such as China, Russia and India, nor will it follow the same pattern of development. But it is full of opportunity and promise, and given various factors, this should certainly be an area for digital marketers around the world to watch closely, at the very least.