Vietnam: Land of opportunity for mobile marketers

Unlike most of the world, Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia are indifferent to ad blockers

VIETNAM — When Apple’s iOS9 was released in September, ad blocking became a talking point around the world. Not so in Vietnam, where the opportunities for marketers are sizable and mobile marketing is still being defined.

According to a study from Opera Mediaworks, iOS has limited penetration in Vietnam, and Android ranks as the top mobile platform. Vikas Gulati, the company's managing director for Asia, believes this is the reason ad blocking never took off in the same way as it did in other parts of Asia and the rest of the world.

"Android’s default browser, Chrome, does not accept ad blocking plug-ins like what Safari is able to do now," Gulati said. "On mobile devices, content is mostly consumed within apps compared to mobile browsers. Apple’s ad-blocking feature only covers ad blocking on its own mobile browser, Safari."

Even at the height of the buzz about Apple’s ad-blocking move, ad blocking app downloads failed to take off among iOS users in a number of Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Opera Mediaworks: Android's unique user dominance.

Alan Cerruti, CEO and co-founder of Happiness Saigon, agrees that ad blocking is not a concern among most consumers in Vietnam and is something limited to "tech-savvy users." Cerutti said that for this group, Fanboy and AdBlock are the most popular ad-blocking apps on iOS.

"From my discussions with Gary Koe, our head of digital, and the digital guys in town, there has not been any significant social chatter about ad blocking in Vietnam," Cerutti said. "Most are generally not moved by it." 

However, according to Cerutti, some Vietnamese websites have already installed ad blocker detectors and are prompting users to disable ad blockers before they can continue to browse or watch a video. These include popular Vietnamese movie sites like or

Much like the rest of Asia-Pacific, Gulati sees a shift from traditional popup and banner ads in Vietnam to more native advertising, in-feed video ads and sponsored content.

"Advertisers and publishers are looking to offer more seamless experiences for their users," said Gulati. "They’re looking at rich media, videos, and more targeted and relevant ads. All these changes are happening right now, and the industry is working together to find the balance between monetisation and user experience."

Although Vietnam has a high potential for mobile marketing, findings from a joint study between Epinion and OMD suggest mobile marketing practices have a long way to go.

For example, according to the study, only 25% of smartphone owners in Vietnam clicked on a mobile ad on purpose because they thought it was interesting, which compares to an average of 40% in Southeast Asia. In addition, many marketers in Vietnam still rely on sending their target audience an SMS, even for high-consideration goods such as real estate. 

Cerutti added that there is still a lack of ad viewability standards in Vietnam and that the desire to reach the masses is also fuelling the hunger for mobile ads.  

"CPC and CPM or even CPD [cost-per-duration] are largely popular metrics from media agencies," Cerutti said. "These are seen as tangible KPIs, and so brands and clients will continue to agree for ads to pop everywhere and anywhere either as mass or as targeted buys. Hence, the demand for mobile display and mobile video ads is huge right now, because that's where Vietnamese consumers are spending their time."

This article first appeared on

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