TikTok, Facebook take on Youtube for eyeballs in Vietnam

By Vien Thong   April 30, 2019 | 09:04 pm PT
TikTok, Facebook take on Youtube for eyeballs in Vietnam
Out of four Vietnamese using smartphones, three use YouTube on their device. Photo by Reuters/Dado Ruvic
While YouTube has an overwhelming market share of video ads in Vietnam, Facebook and TikTok are trying to get a piece of the action.

A survey last year found 87 percent of respondents saying they use the YouTube platform. In 2017 a representative of the platform said out of four Vietnamese using smartphones, three use YouTube on their device. 

While YouTube has been criticized for being unable or unwilling to act on internal alarms flagging toxic content for fear of throttling engagement, in Vietnam, other names such as Facebook and TikTok are trying to capture viewers with new strategies. 

According to global marketing agency We Are Social, in 2018 Facebook had over 58 million users in Vietnam. In late 2017 it launched a video-based sub-platform called Facebook Watch. 

For almost half a year Facebook has also been hosting an online, real-time trivia game (Confetti) for several nights a week in which participants could win actual money. 

A participant’s chance to win increases if they share the game on social media, and a few days ago it promised more rewards if 300,000 people are online and playing at the same time. 

The youngest of the three, Chinese video app TikTok has also just launched fully in Vietnam after a year’s trial. Unlike YouTube and Facebook, who have made no moves to set up a subsidiary in Vietnam, TikTok established a representative office in HCMC last December. 

It had 12 million regular users per month in Vietnam as of the end of March 2019. It has more than 1,000 official content creators, artists, influencers and content producers.

"One of our top priorities this year is to make sure users can find all kinds of content on the platform, whether it's entertainment, learning or inspirational trends," Nguyen Lam Thanh, policy director of TikTok Vietnam, said. 

Thanh said he wants to triple the number of official content creators to 3,000 by the end of this year.

The platform is still in its ad-free phase, and the company has assured there are no plans for ads any time soon. Last December Diep Que Anh, director of communications for TikTok Vietnam, said they are waiting for the market to mature. 

But the app has revealed major ambitions by announcing partnerships with other media firms such as state-owned VTV, VTVCab (cable TV), the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Promotion Center, and the Da Nang Department of Tourism. 

Given the recent moves by major media streaming platforms to capture more engagement and impressive growth in the sector, digital advertising looks to be the future.

A recent report by French marketing agency Criteo said while TV and print media are the two top channels in Vietnam in terms of advertising spending, online advertising has been growing at the fastest rate.

Criteo predicted that, by 2022, 89 percent of the total marketing budget in the country would be used for online advertising, especially given the fact 34 percent of smartphone users would have two or more connected devices by then.

In 2017 the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information estimated that Google and Facebook accounted for 80 percent of the online advertising market share in Vietnam.

Speaking to VnExpress, the head of a major online business, who asked not to be named, said this ratio has probably not changed much now.

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