Digital marketing in Korea has gone through major changes in recent years. This is due to the rise of smart technologies and innovation hubs for modern startups. With the ever-increasing demands for consumer attention, digital marketing in Korea has never played a more prominent role in establishing an authoritative online presence. Methods like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising are quintessential for reaching your target customers and building your brand image. 

The total ad spending in South Korea reached over $13 billion in 2022 with the largest market segment being search advertising. And the average ad spending per internet user is estimated to be about $7.65 USD. Compared to countries like the USA and China, South Korea is definitely competing on the front lines for building a strong digital presence globally. In order to successfully navigate your way through South Korea’s digital marketing scene, you’ll need to understand the market demands. Because, at the end of the day, you’d want to make sure that your brand is shown to the right users with the right messages at the right time.

Digital Marketing in Korea – 4 Tips For a Stronger Online Presence

Kakao Ads

Digital Marketing in Korea KakaoTalkYou can’t grow your brand in South Korea if you don’t know the number one platform that almost every Korean uses. KakaoTalk is a messaging platform developed by Kakao Corporation in 2010. With nearly 52 million monthly active users and almost 13 billion messages sent per day, Kakao has undoubtedly become an indispensable part of almost every Korean since its initial launch over 13 years ago. If you are in digital marketing in Korea, you cannot miss this opportunity to have endless exposure to your brand.

Back in May 2019, Kakao Messenger started running small banner ads inside the chat list. The cost of advertising on Kakao depends on several factors, such as your product, targeted customers, and campaign goals. But your ads will show up based on your activities, interests, keywords, and demographics. Therefore Kakao customized ads analyze the user’s Kakao service usage history, activity, and search histories. All this data leads to behavior information of Korean users in order to provide them with the most optimal ads possible. 

Leverage Naver

Naver BlogNaver is the number one website people use to research a product or service in South Korea. Unlike Google, Naver serves as a web portal, with features like Naver Blog, Cafe, Shopping, News, and more. If you’d like to promote your company on Naver, you should consider running PPC campaigns. There are currently five types of ads available: display, search, keyword, blog, and shopping. Naver search ads are the most popular amongst advertisers as they tend to generate higher CTR and receive more clicks. These ads are charged on CPM and the minimum required budget is 500,000 Korean Won. Advertisers have a limited selection of 30 keywords to trigger search ads.

When compared with Google, Naver does have a higher bidding price due to greater competition. This naturally translates into a higher CPC and as a result more money spent on campaigns. In addition, Naver has established detailed specifications about running ads online, and they give little to no room for creative expressions. For example, Naver only allows one headline with 15 characters while Google allows three headlines with 30 characters each. Moreover, you have room for just one description with 45 characters whereas Google lets you have two descriptions and 90 characters each. With these apparent differences, Naver should still be an essential component of your digital marketing efforts in South Korea. Studies by Korea JoongAng Daily show that 82% of 20-year-olds use Naver and that Naver consists of 75.2% market share in paid search.

Facebook Is Still Useful for Digital Marketing in Korea

When it comes to social media advertising, Facebook (Meta) is still the number one platform to connect with your audience globally. Even in South Korea, over 60% of people use Facebook and by 2025, the number of users will reach 16.1 million – according to Statista. The ad platform currently brings in over 2.6 billion monthly active users, despite the talk that its reach potential is slowly dying down.

Creating the perfect Facebook ad takes a lot of effort. The one key feature you should always take into consideration, however, is integrating Facebook lookalike audiences based on your installed Facebook pixel. Aside from the general targeting options, lookalike audiences give advertisers the best chance to reach their most valued customers. The Facebook lookalike audience is a feature that learns about your most engaged customers and finds new people who will take similar actions. Essentially, the ad platform takes into account what you like in a customer. Then it will try to match customers that meet that criteria.

When creating a Facebook lookalike audience, you have the option to select between 1%-10% of the total population in your preferred target region. For example, if you are targeting Seoul, South Korea, you can choose 1% of the entire population in that region that exhibits similar traits as your “best” customers. The lower the percentage, the closer the match will be. After choosing the percentage, you can choose which actions you’d like Facebook to reflect the most. A common one that many advertisers choose is showing ads to people who’ve visited your Facebook page.

Digital Marketing in KoreaDon’t Forget the Post Click Optimization

Most digital marketers in Korea still pursue a trial-and-error strategy when it comes to post-click optimization. Equally important to making sure that your ads are primed for clicks, you should also take good care of the landing page that the customers will see immediately afterward. In other words, you need to see the complete picture of the customer journey.

Post-click optimization is essentially what happens between the ad click and the conversion. Think of it as a natural extension of your ads. Each part of the page needs to be designed in a way that’s optimized for getting the desired results. In addition, post-click also includes the “thank you” page after the conversion.

Digital Marketing in Korea 101 – Must-have elements for optimal post-click pages 

Quick Load Times

Imagine you’ve clicked on an ad because you were enticed by the services or products offered. But upon entering the landing page, you find yourself waiting for a few seconds, even minutes. What would you do? Most likely exit the page. Research shows that ads that load up to 15 seconds have at least 50% fewer conversions. So it’s paramount that your post-click landing page has a quick load time upon entering. Digital marketing in Korea will be pointless if your site does not load in a few seconds. 

Consistent Message

It’s not unusual to find that some campaigns advertise one thing and when clicked, the landing URL leads them to something completely different. As the advertiser, you need to make sure that your website shows exactly what you’ve promised in your ads. It’s also critical to note that if you are advertising different promotions at the same time, you should segment them into separate categories and create different landing pages.

1:1 Conversion Ratio

All landing pages should have just one conversion goal. These goals can be different based on the campaign objectives, but each page should only allow one call-to-action button. For example, you can’t have a sign-up button on the landing page when the ad campaign is promoting a purchase conversion. This will confuse the customers and your ads will be less likely to bring in the desired outcomes. Having a conversion goal is key when doing digital marketing in Korea. 

Key Takeaway – Digital Marketing in Korea

South Korea is one of the most attractive markets in Asia for global brands looking to do business online. South Korea has over 51 million smartphone users, the fastest internet speed, and 100% penetration of wireless broadband. Therefore, South Korea is a hyperconnected market that is eager for new global brands. Since the average Korean consumer is very tech-savvy, brands that know how to utilize digital marketing strategies can achieve a great return on their investment. This is because a majority of Korean brands invest the majority of their ad spend in traditional ways such as TV, newspaper, and even radio. 

Working on these four areas can give any modern startup in Korea a stronger online presence. As well as a leg up when it comes to digital marketing in Korea. This will ultimately result in a broader consumer base. And with Korea emerging as a startup hub with the potential to thrive internationally, business owners in the area would do well to keep this in mind.


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