What Google's first Vietnamese ad says about mobile

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The search giant's campaign, which focuses on voice-based search in Vietnamese, carries a message about how mobile interaction is evolving in many Asian nations

Google launched in Vietnam 12 years ago. But it wasn’t until last week that the tech giant ran its first ad campaign in a country where mobile and voice search now characterise a new generation of users. 

According to Google, its campaign, "The Scooterist," comes at a time when smartphone adoption in Vietnam has jumped from 36% last year to 55% this year. Mobile is also at the heart of the campaign’s narrative.

"Often our phone is our primary and only device, and more Vietnamese are now talking to Google in Vietnamese than ever before," said Nguyen Phuong Anh, head of marketing for Google Vietnam. "It’s a more natural way to interact with Google on your mobile than typing, and we’re working hard to continuously improve the Vietnamese voice search experience."

Balazs Molnar, head of search marketing at Google Southeast Asia, believes practical reasons are driving voice interaction behaviours on mobile in Asia.

"While voice search and commands are unlikely to replace typing completely, in many Asian languages it’s harder for people to type using a small keyboard," Molnar said. "For instance, character-based languages or languages with a lot of diacritical markers, like Vietnamese. People find it easier to speak rather than type on their phones."

For the most part, voice search is an untapped area for brands, advertisers and ecommerce platforms. In recent times, Google has been working with various third-party companies around the world to integrate their products and services with Google’s voice API.

For example, users can now send messages on popular instant messaging app Whatsapp via the Google app by saying, "OK, Google, send Johnny a Whatsapp message saying I’ll be late."

In the past, voice search-and-command technology was limited by inaccurate voice recognition. However, since adopting a new technology called "deep neural networks" in 2012, Google’s voice-recognition capabilities have became more usable, especially for complex languages such as Vietnamese, according to the company.

"It’s a global trend," Molnar said. "But in Vietnam, we have seen a significant increase in voice searches, and with the increase in mobile Internet users, this is likely to continue to grow.

Earlier in the month, Google announced another innovation that makes its voice search more accurate in noisy environments.

"Voice search is a new behavior, so part of the campaign ['The Scooterist'] is introducing this new way to interact with Google," Molnar added. "But for many, it’s a way to demonstrate just how hard we’ve been working to make the Vietnamese voice search experience better."

Campaign Asia-Pacific talked to Google Vietnam about the story behind "The Scooterist" campaign.

Why was the Scooterist group chosen for the campaign?
Balazs Molnar: 
Before we met the Scooterist team, we thought their story was just about a couple of young, passionate Vietnamese who love riding Vespas. But when we had our first meeting we realised they were much more than that. They are four individuals who do what they love every day, and they don’t compromise on that. Riding Vespas is the hobby that unites them, but they each have an individual story—a reason to "search"—that made each one of them stand out to us.

Here are a few examples:

  • Da is one of our main characters. After he graduated from college where he studied business, he decided that instead of starting to work as an office worker, he would pursue his passion and became a professional photographer.
  • Quynh, his girlfriend, has many talents, from playing the piano to blogging, being an up-and-coming videographer and working with Da as a wedding photographer.
  • Toc has created his own brand where he sells high-class leatherwear. He researches designs online as well as techniques for working with leather for both durability and different looks and textures.
The Scooterists during the filming of the campaign.

How did you go about choosing a director and agency for the campaign?
Nguyen Phuong Anh: 
We explored a number of different profiles before identifying film director Bao Nguyen (Dao Dien) as the best person to bridge the art and science of search, and direct our first made-in-Vietnam, for Vietnam, film. Bao has a unique approach to storytelling, we felt it was important that the story should feature real Vietnamese people and their search stories, and we worked collaboratively with Bao and Phibious, an independent, boutique agency in Vietnam, on the creation and execution of this campaign.

Film director Bao Nguyen.
What’s the goal of the campaign and how will you distribute it?
Molnar: Our goal for this Search campaign is to go beyond showcasing pure functionality and create an emotional connection between the product and the audience. We wanted them to be able to identify with our characters and with the real-life use cases of the app and voice search. Everyone has their own passions, and everyone should be able to harness the power of the Internet to achieve their goals and live out their dreams—whether it’s refitting a vintage Vespa, finding that dream job, or traveling on that journey of a lifetime. 

Nguyen: We were inspired by their stories ["The Scooterists"] by the way this group of friends came together through search and were exploring their passion. They represent today’s searcher — from asking the basics, to the big questions about life that we don’t even know yet. That’s what really touches me about the whole concept of the campaign: "Doing what you love starts with a question."

For distribution, we have a combination of media partnerships and organic conversations across social media. We loved making this campaign, and we hope our Vietnamese users will love it, and share it. We have made several shorter edits that we will also show as TrueView ads in YouTube. Those clips focus on different use cases and functionalities of the Google app.

We have unique partnerships with Yeah1 TV and Lotte Cinema, Zalora and Mobile World, who are also distributing the video on their own channels, and who share our enthusiasm for helping users to discover the power of the open web on their mobile phones and learn more every day.

This article first appeared on campaignasia.com.


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