Rakuten, Google strike ad deal
Rakuten Tarad.com, a Tokyo-based e-marketplace, has joined with Google Thailand to promote e-commerce among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Google chose the company as its business partner to encourage online merchants of Rakuten's Tarad.com to use Google's digital advertising system, called Google Adwords, to increase sales.
"At least 50% of Thais use a search engine to find information before purchasing online, showing that digital marketing has become an essential tool to boost online sales," Rakuten managing director Pawoot Pongwittayapanu said.
In collaboration with Google Thailand, Rakuten can access Google's digital marketing tools to help merchants create and manage online marketing campaigns to boost traffic.
Search engine ads can be a powerful tool for marketers and advertisers, providing details on user needs, while social media ads can obtain demographic information about users, Mr Pawoot said.
Rakuten's Tarad.com marketplace has 270,000 online merchants selling 4 million items. Best-selling products include fashion accessories, cosmetics, IT gadgets and nutritional supplements.
Mr Pawoot said just 20% of local online merchants used digital ads, as vendors still lacked awareness of online advertising's benefits.
Thailand and Taiwan are the only two of Rakuten's 16 markets with such a digital ad partnership.
"We expect the collaboration will help us to increase online sales revenue by 40% each month," Mr Pawoot said, adding that the number of visitors was expected to rise by 50%.
Matt Heller, head of channel sales for Google in Southeast Asia, considers Thailand an important market for the search giant.
Thailand has 3 million SMEs, of which only 500,000 have an online marketing strategy.
"Google found that online SMEs had the potential to grow their business by 50% more than offline SMEs," Mr Heller said.
According to a Google Consumer Barometer report, 74% of Thais use the internet as their first place to find information, especially about mobiles, notebook computers, home appliances, clothing and footwear.
"At least half the Thai population will go online this year, in particular through mobile devices, which is the future of mobile marketing and advertising," Mr Heller said.
Mr Pawoot, who is also president of the Thai e-Commerce Association, said Thailand's online retail market could reach 45 billion baht this year, up by 20-25%.