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Google Thailand to push local content, web services

Internet search engine Google has officially opened its representative office in Thailand in a drive to boost local content of its web services and the visibility of its business online.

The strategy is aimed at increasing the country’s online advertising spending. Thailand’s online ad spending accounts for less than 1% of an annual 90 billion baht in total ad spending.

The establishment of Google Thailand, the third office in the region after Malaysia and Singapore, offers concrete evidence of a long-term investment commitment and opens a new chapter for the local internet industry.

“Thailand has only 25 million internet users out of a population of 70 million, and still has room for growth driven by 3G service,” said Ariya Banomyong, the newly appointed country manager of Google Thailand.

Online ads constitute 50% of total ad spending in the United Kingdom and 30% in the United States.

Mr Ariya said the Thai operating unit would handle sales, marketing and supporting partners and customers in a closer relationship than with the Singapore office previously.

“We aim to increase more local content here. A statistic showed that Thai content accounts for only 1% of global online information,” he said.

Although eight out of 10 Thais search online before a purchase, only 10% of Thai firms have a website.

Google in June launched a free website called Thai Business, Go Online. More than 25,000 companies have participated in the programme so far.

“We aim to have 50,000 companies join the programme within 12 months,” Mr Ariya said.

“The more local content and business listed online, the more accurate and up-to-date the search engine,” he said, adding that this could provide useful information to users and measurable tools for advertisers.

Search engine advertising is expected to provide the company’s core revenue.

Mr Ariya, the former chief commercial officer of True Corporation, said he will apply his experience from the mobile business, a dynamic and highly competitive market, in managing Google.

Julian Persaud, the managing director for Google in Southeast Asia, said in a video conference from Bangkok yesterday that Google Inc may buy technology firms to expand in Southeast Asia, following internet operators such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and LivingSocial in acquiring companies to add services and users in the region. He declined to provide further details.

Source: Bangkok Post

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