Digital Marketing


The Philippines’ digital performance during the last five years has been a whirlwind, with the country and the region as a whole outperforming even the most optimistic expectations for Southeast Asia. The huge changes in the Philippine digital landscape are mostly due to the extraordinary adoption rate and changes in digital behavior of the Filipino audience. These are some of the changes that have occurred in the last five years, as well as their consequences for digital marketing and online or digital advertising in 2021 and beyond, based on resources, research, keynote talks, and experience.

Digital Economy Changes in the Philippines (2016 To 2020)

Let’s start with some recent history and look at the world as a whole. Here are some developments in worldwide digital adoption to give you a sense of how the internet continues to impact lives and shape the world:

  • By the end of 2020, the number of users will have risen from 3.42 billion in 2016 to 4.66 billion, a 1.24 billion increase.)
  • Global Internet penetration is expected to increase from 46% in 2016 to 59.5 percent in 2020.
  • In 2016, there were 1.97 billion social media users, which is expected to increase to 4.20 billion by 2020.
  • In 2020, it is anticipated that 1.3 million new users will have joined social media

Internet Adoption in the Philippines: From Adapter to Digital Native

In 2016, the Philippines had a low internet penetration rate of 48 percent. This increased by 67 percent in 2019, and by the end of 2020, it was at 74 percent. Although this information is amazing, we should take it with a grain of salt. The World Bank believes that 74 percent penetration only represents 47.46 percent of the population since more affluent person’s own numerous devices and various connections.

We used to refer to those who spent more than 3:12 hours online as “heavy daily users” back in 2015. The ordinary Filipino in 2016 would be a heavy daily user. In 2016, the average Filipino spent 3:12 hours on a mobile device and 5:12 hours on a computer online. Five years later, the average user spends 5:54 hours per day on mobile alone, with the most active users spending 10:56 hours per day across all devices.

The statement “Filipinos do not go online, they live online” was coined by digital marketers in the Philippines. With a typical age of 25.8 years, it’s no surprise that the Philippines is one of the top Internet content consumers.


  • 2020 Internet penetration 74 percent vs.
  • 48 percent in 2016 – a 26 percent increase 2020 aggregate time spent online 10:56 vs.
  •  5:12 in 2016 – a more than 100 percent increase 2020 smartphone users 71.32 million vs.
  • 52.2 million at the end of 2016


In terms of Internet adoption, we’ve come a long way. The forecasts that digital media would overtake traditional media as the primary source of information were prominent. In November 2014, digital time surpassed conventional media time, with 3:45 hours spent on digital devices compared to 3:30 hours for traditional media.

Google said in May 2015 that mobile users were outperforming PC users in ten of its markets. Both mobile computing use and mobile internet penetration have increased in the Philippines.

The number of mobile phone users in the country was increasing. In 2016, mobile Internet penetration was 46.35 percent; by 2020, it will have risen to nearly 70 percent. In the Philippines, there are more smartphone devices than people. In absolute terms, that translates to 152 million smartphones for 110 million people, with over 79 million Filipinos owning a smartphone!

This was only one example of how Filipino digital customers were evolving, requiring platforms and companies to adapt as well. The Bank of the Philippine Islands is a superb example of a brand that pays attention to the indications of the times (BPI). They began an extensive push in 2015 to urge their users to take use of the power of mobility and connection by converting their clients to a mobile banking experience via their app (V 7.0). And it was profitable! Customers had downloaded the BPI app 1,168,000 times by November 2015, surpassing their objective of 800,000 users and making it the Philippines’ most downloaded financial app of the year.

Audiences Online Consumers of Digital Media

In 2016, Philippine e-Commerce was valued at USD 1 billion, with a 16 percent year-on-year growth anticipated. In 2017, the actual figure was USD 1.23 billion, up over 22% from the previous year and exceeding expectations. It was predicted to rise to USD 2.055 billion if the current trend continues. By 2020, we had surpassed USD 4 billion, exceeding forecasts by 100% in e-Commerce alone. When all online transactions are taken into consideration, the Philippine digital economy expanded to USD 7.5 billion in Gross Merchandise Value, as follows:

  • (e-Commerce Gross Merchandise Volume of USD 4 billion)
  •  (a 55 percent increase from the previous year and a 400 percent increase against 2016)
  • Food and transportation cost USD 800 million (food accounting for a huge portion of this given the contraction in transportation transactions from the ride-sharing economy)
  • A total of USD 700 million was spent on travel and hospitality (a 66 percent decline from USD 2 billion the previous year)
  • With the country’s rapid acceptance of online entertainment, it’s no surprise that Filipinos adapted to online purchases swiftly as well.
  • In fact, 37% of Internet users in the Philippines switched to e-commerce for the first time in 2020, with Metro Manila accounting for 41% of first-time e-commerce users and the rest of the nation accounting for 59 percent.
  • And, post-pandemic, Filipino digital activity is unlikely to change. According to Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company’s newly released e-Conomy SEA 2020 Report, 95 percent of all new adopters will continue to do so after COVID-19.
  • The same may be said about the Southeast Asian region as a whole. In 2018, SEAsia’s e-Commerce volume for 2020 was estimated to be USD 22 billion. It closed at USD 62 billion in 2020, nearly tripling the projection from 2018 and representing a 63 percent rise over the previous year (SEA e-Commerce volume closed at USD 38 billion in 2019 – a value the area was not anticipated to surpass until 2022).

Changes in Audience Behavior

Our most recent marketing campaigns have forced us to throw aside all we thought we knew about our target audiences. Take, for example, our e-mail marketing strategy. We’ve always sent e-mails between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on weekends. And the largest open rates are projected between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Today, however, we are at our most receptive before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m.

Here’s a new one for you. For example, brands that created social media material for moms used to communicate with them during their commute to and from work. That is, when people are caught in traffic and have some spare time on their hands. Then shortly before the end of their workday, usually between 9 and 11 p.m. People are no longer traveling to and from work as a result of the lockout. It’s become vital to re-acquaint yourself with your “always on” audience, with everyone online and your ideal window now out the proverbial window.

Un-know all you thought you knew about your target audience’s behavior. Don’t be left behind because your target audience has shifted. 2021 And Beyond For Digital Marketing In The Philippines!

In terms of the revolutions in digital advertising and Internet marketing tactics brought on by the quick changes we saw in 2020, there is still a lot to cover. As digital marketers, we don’t have to throw out the playbook; instead, we must learn to adapt to these new shifts. Instead of working in silos, brands and digital marketing organizations require stronger synergy across different strategies.

It wasn’t uncommon for brands to have dedicated agency for specific campaigns in the not-too-distant past. There’s an SEO agency, a website maintenance agency, an Adwords and display agency, a social media agency, and a paid media agency. Last year’s deadline of 2020 made it imperative to either consolidate most (if not all) solutions under one roof, or at the absolute least, get these disparate moving pieces to communicate more regularly and dynamically.

Stridec has never partnered with more external agencies, website developers, and media firms than we did in 2020 as a Digital Marketing Company – and it appears that this will be the more persistent habit rather than different organizations retreating to their own silos.

And demand is increasing at the same rate as change. The Digital Marketing industry, admittedly, was most likely on the receiving end of opportunity in 2020. With one of the country’s top television firms suspended, advertisers needed to find another way to reach the 54 million Filipinos who were once part of their daily audience.

There is so much more to say, but this has already become a lengthy post. We’ll be launching our Guide to 2021 Digital Marketing Best Practices in the coming days. You’ll find data related to your particular channel of interest there.

Come back and join us as we discuss SEO, Adwords, SEM, and Social Media once more. Meanwhile, you can brush up on your digital marketing skills by reading the following articles: