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Advertising industry in Cambodia grows

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Advertising billboards are seen along a street in Phnom Penh on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

As Cambodia's economy continues to grow, advertising in the country has developed to keep pace. But the industry still faces challenges, insiders say.

According to Media Adex data by Indochina Research, which monitors advertising spending for TV and print (but not radio), $105.4 million was spent on advertising in 2012, compared with $101.6 million in 2011 and $75.6 million in 2010.

Santiphong Pimolsaengsuriya, CEO of Riverorchid, a communications agency covering Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, said the year 2012 had been a stable one for Cambodia.

“[Advertising] increased gra­dually from 2011 for our company,” he said. “I would say that more clients [are] coming over as a result of Cambodia opening up more and more.” He added that the growth of the industry is also a result of the country’s overall economic growth.

But despite its growth, with increasing competition and a more sophisticated audience, the developing industry also faces challenges.

Laurent Notin, general manager of Indochina Research, said the sector is becoming increasingly competitive and that many individual designers are being hired as consultants.

“So the agencies need to improve the quality of their services to stay in the game and differentiate from their competitors,” he said.

According to Santiphong, au­diences are becoming increasingly savvy. “We have got to move from one-way monologue to more interactive forms of dialogue, based on genuine local insight rather than bland global assumptions about what people do and don’t want,” he said.

An industry source, who declined to give his name because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the major challenges for advertising companies in Cambodia are mainly HR related, as it is difficult to find staff with experience in the industry.

According to data from Indochina Research, the industry that purchased the most advertising in 2012 was the beverage industry, at $21.7 million, followed by professional services at $14.3 million and health at $10.8 million.

Other sectors were personal care, cosmetics, construction/engineering, automotive, food and accommodation.

Riverorchid has local, regional and international companies as clients in fields including financial services, airlines, food and beverages, telecommunications, and tourism, Santiphong said.

In Channy, CEO and president of Acleda Bank, said that compared with 2012, the bank has increased its advertising budget by five per cent in 2013, to be used on ads in local and foreign newspapers, TV and radio.

According to Santiphong, the type of advertising clients seek depends largely on their target audience. “While those with brands with very broad appeal might favour TV or radio, some with more niche targets might emphasise print or digital,” he said.

“We are seeing digital growing fast – albeit off a small base – and our own Riverorchid digital agency is now very active in Cambodia.”

Notin said Indochina Research does not have data about what type of advertising clients usually ask for.

“I would imagine it remains very traditional with a high focus on TV for consumer products, then print for B2B services,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anne Renzenbrink at anne.renzenbrink@phnompenhpost.comv

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