Looking for the latest internet penetration statistics for Sri Lanka? Well, InternetWorldStats.com has updated their numbers as of June2016, and according to them there are 6,087,164 Internet users in Sri Lanka which is a 27.4% penetration into the total population of Sri Lanka.
In December 2014, IWS reported a total of 5,689,800 internet users in Sri Lanka. If that number is correct, this only a 7% growth in 18 months. For over 5 years, Sri Lanka maintained over a 20% year over year growth in internet penetration. Last 12 months, we saw a clear increase in Social Media engagement in Sri Lanka with Facebook crossing 4 million monthly active users. In such a context, the latest published number of 6,087,164 is a little too hard to believe. All these years, IWS credited International Telco Union (ITU) as the source of information to report internet users count in Sri Lanka, but in this latest updated report they fail to credit the source to a credible organization like ITU. Instead they are crediting themselves (IWS) as the source of this information.
At Neo@Ogilvy we estimate about 7 million to 7.5 million internet users in Sri Lanka. We have multiple sources to derive our estimation. Yes, we based IWS’s last report of 5,689,800 users as of 31st December 2014 as our starting point, and then we cross checked it with Facebook and Google advertising data. Facebook reported 3.8 million monthly active users as of June 2016. Assuming 50% of all internet users are on Facebook this will be 7.6 million total internet users. Then, from the Google Display Network statistics we can see close to about 8 million to 10 million unique cookies for an ad plan covering Sri Lanka for all topics on GDN targeted. We can safely assume, 1 cookie is less than 1 person (given that people access internet from multiple devices with multiple logins) so even according to that the closest number of internet users we can estimate would be around 7 to 8 million. Therefore, in my opinion the latest published number is a little bit under estimated by IWS.
According to Statcounter.com, nearly 68% of all internet visits happening in Sri Lanka on a mobile device. According to Facebook, 70% of Sri Lankan Facebook users use only a mobile device to access Facebook. This shows how mobile biased this market is. This is an indication of how marketers should think ‘mobile first’ when making decisions about their campaigns. Gone are the days you have to worry about the aesthetics of your website layout on desktop view (or is it?).
Your customer will now browse your website most probably on a mobile device inside his car, while he is waiting for a traffic light to turn green. He surely doesn’t have any time to critically evaluate your website’s color platter or it’s creative aesthetics. However, this doesn’t mean in anyway that you need to have a ‘mobile strategy’ for your company. Mobile is just an access point of your content, so there can’t be a stand-alone strategy for mobile.
What other implications are there for the marketers?
As I’ve said in one of the Neo@Ogilvy DigiCasts, internet is now penetrating into the rural Sri Lanka. The mobile dominance, high demand for Sinhala language content are the indicators of this fact. You are going to experience a new breed of internet users, who have never touched a desktop or laptop computer before, and who doesn’t have clue about who Mark Zuckerberg is but spending 5 hours a day browsing Facebook on their mobile. They have no clue about their own privacy on the internet and they have no respect for the privacy of others. We are entering the most chaotic era of Sri Lankan internet (Nation’s Trust Bank incident was just a teaser. Wait for more irresponsible disasters). This opens up the debate, “should government get involved in monitoring internet usage in Sri Lanka?” and this debate will heat up the online communities for next 12 months. This is where the first 3 million users of the internet have to come forward and start talking about ‘responsible use of Social Media’. Need for educating the new internet users about basic internet etiquette, taking care of their own online privacy, and respecting to other’s privacy online will be the areas of focus for next 12 months for the newly formed ministry of Digital Infrastructure Development.
What do you think? Can 6,087,164 be the actual number of internet users in Sri Lanka as of June 2016? Or, could this be higher? Or even lower? What’s your view?
Digital Marketing and Social Media are fast evolving topics. It’s hard to keep track of things for many people, so we always look up to some kind of an ‘expert’ or a ‘go to person’ to get the latest knowledge we need.
The question most Sri Lankan marketers face is that they don’t have too many trusted ‘go to people’ in Sri Lanka to learn what they want. When you are totally clueless about whom to follow to get latest knowledge about Digital Marketing and Social Media , you can easily get misguided by some self-proclaimed “world-class expert” who have no much of recognition even in their own home country.
Let me make your job easy. I am going to list 10 truly globally renowned Digital Marketing and Social Media experts who pioneered this field. They have proven their expertise in the field over many years by helping brands all over the world succeed in the digital age. They have written books with substance (anybody can write a book without substance and claim to be a published author), and sold millions of copies of their books. They have spoken at big global events like , , , and many more. Above all, you can find enough knowledge about Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and about converging digital tools with traditional marketing by only reading the freely available blogs written by these people or by watching some of the videos of speeches they have delivered. Best thing is, you can learn all of these things without having to pay a cent. They write blogs, and they do podcasts!
Here’s the trick. Appoint a junior executive (or a management trainee) from your marketing team and assign them the responsibility of following these 10 people on a weekly basis. And then ask them to circulate a summary of what they have learned. Maybe they can do one hour training session every month, to pass the knowledge he gathered to rest of your team. This way, you can save hundreds of thousands of money you would otherwise waste on workshops and training programs which covers nothing more than what is available free of charge on the internet.
Here goes the list in no particular order.
I first started following Rohit’s ‘Influential Marketing Blog’ back in 2006 during my early career. For last 10 years, Rohit had been really consistent with his blog, and has published a large number of valuable articles about ‘digital influence’ and social media. He has written many books about digital influence and social economy, including bestsellers like Personality Not Included and Likeonomics. For anyone interested in hearing the latest digital trends from a person who had been truly consistent in predicting future digital trends, Rohit surely is the go to person. .
Ann is another digital age marketer I followed for nearly 10 years. I first discovered Ann’s writings through MarketingProfs.com, a community website for marketing professionals around the world. Today, Anne is one of the most influential authority figures in the field of Content Marketing. If you need to learn more about what’s the big buzz about Content Marketing, then Ann is the person you need to follow closely.
Mari is one of the best go to persons on . For tips of getting more organic likes for your fan page, to get your fans deeply engaged with your content, Mari will teach you a great deal of social media engagement strategies for Facebook. Of course her expertise doesn’t limit to Facebook, but I have bookmarked Mari as my number 1 source of knowledge about Facebook fan pages.
He sounds a little drunk in his podcast (err… pubcast!) but that doesn’t hinder the quality of content he has to share with you about anything related to Facebook ads. Just as I look up to Mari Smith for Facebook pages related knowledge, I totally rely on Jon for . Jon Loomer is a true master of the Facebook ads platform!
“After mediating a crocodile family dispute, look at what Micheal Stelzner has found!”. That’s one of my favorite lines from his Social Media Podcast on. Micheal is the best resource composer I’ve seen in the field of Social Media Marketing. His podcasts features the best minds in the world of Social Media and Digital Marketing. In my bucket list, I hope to attend his Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego someday (let’s hope the long distance air travel costs will come down very soon).
Author of the books ‘Engage’ and ‘Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy’, Brian Solis is a Social Media professional having roots in traditional PR. If you are someone who ended up in Social Media from a marketing background, here is a person who will bring a totally different perspective to your worldview about Social Media. I highly recommend you to check out Brian’s personal website and read some of his books.
The man who inspired millions of digital marketers around the world! I first started following Seth in 2005, and his book ‘Permission Marketing’ is the first ever book I’ve ordered on Amazon.com. As a young marketer 11 years ago, I was fascinated by his philosophy of ‘Permission Marketing’. I remember I was talking about Permission Marketing with some Sri Lankan marketers in 2008/9, and most of them said “that will never happen in Sri Lanka!”. 10 years since I read his book, I teach the concept of Permission Marketing in every Digital Marketing class I teach at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura.
Think Analytics, think Kaushik. He is the #1 Analytics guru on the internet (at least according to my ratings). I am someone who started following Avinash from his very first blog post on , a long time before he became an ambassador for Google Analytics. Today, Avinash has evolved into a Data marketer; an evolution of being an analytics guy for a very long time period I guess. So, if you need to be in touch with what’s happening in topics such as big data driven programmatic marketing etc., here is the guy to follow!
OMG! How can I ever forget the friendly Australian who helps hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of bloggers around the world to do ! When I started my blog amisampath.com nearly 8 years ago, I followed Darren closely to learn tips on how make a successful blog. Well, my blog never made a global list of top 10 of something but I have had some remarkable achievements in my life thanks to the blog I started using Darren’s tips. Darren still is one of the most influential authority figures on the internet about Blogging, and content marketing.
All the 9 other people I’ve listed up to now are practical experts of Social Media and Digital Marketing. But Dr. Dave Chaffey is one great academic you should not miss to follow. The author if the book ‘Digital Marketing’, a recommended reading by CIM for all their student members, Dr. Chaffey is someone who made significant contributions the knowledge body on digital marketing.
Now, these are truly globally renowned Social Media and Digital Marketing professionals to follow. If you get a chance to attend a conference or a workshop where these people are speaking at, never hesitate to throw your money and book a ticket. You can expect a lot more than a 5 star lunch such a conference or a workshop.
when Sri Lankacrossed 4 million internet users milestone. In that post I forecasted, many companies will struggle finding the right digital marketing talent in few years’ time, unless they start training their marketing staff for the digital world.
Two years later, in a market there internet penetration is over 30% (with closer to 7.5 million internet users) the enthusiasm among company top executives for digital marketing is really kicking in. Comparatively to two years ago, today companies are spending almost double the marketing money on digital. This still doesn’t even come closer to at least 10% of their total ad money. But still it’s a significant growth for the digital ad industry.
With the ad spend on digital increasing year over year, the next questions most companies are facing today is how to find the right people to manage these ad budgets. Marketing staffs at most Sri Lankan companies are not fully geared to handle a serious digital budget. They survived with smaller budgets by simply letting their ad agencies to make decision; if t doesn’t work, it’s only a couple of hundred thousand rupees, so nobody really cared. But today, the digital ad budgets come in millions. We see lots of occasions where companies blindly spend almost 80% of their digital ad budget on some fancy rich media take-over on a local news website (and that are it! That’s digital).
This why every marketing department today needs at least one qualified digital marketer. Eventually, your entire marketing team has to be trained for the digital world, but starting with at least one recruitment specialized in digital is important.
On the other hand, companies should not appoint people as ‘digital marketing managers’ for the sake of filling that vacancy. It’s important to find the right people. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka, you don’t find plenty of people with real digital marketing competencies, because there is no single yard-stick to measure their qualification. If someone comes to an interview and introduce themselves as ‘hi! I am a digital marketing expert’, only method you can verify that claim is by counting the number of buzzwords he or she uses in the interview. Because, most interviewers doesn’t have the enough experience to gauge the talent of a digital marketer.
This leads in to many problems for the company. You hire someone to the post of ‘digital marketing manager’ and then that becomes your benchmark for digital marketing.
Within last six months I was approached by more than a dozen companies, asking for help in finding the right digital marketing talent for their marketing department. It wasn’t easy to find people. At the same time, our agency gets regular calls from headhunters to tap into the talent base we managed to build over a period of three to four years. It isn’t easy to retain good people either :-)
During the year 2016, marketing fraternity in Sri Lanka has to do some serious contributions to uplift the quality of digital marketing talent in Sri Lanka.
In 2013, our agency (Neo@Ogilvy Sri Lanka) signed a MOU with the University of Sri Jayawardenepura, to introduce a Digital Marketing subject in their final year. We have successfully completed three batches, and maybe this is one source your company can tap into when recruiting Digital Marketing talent. All 200+ graduates passed out in 2013, 14, and 15 were given a three months crash course type of a training in digital marketing.
Since 2012, I have been involved with eBusiness Academy to train more than 1,500 marketers in Sri Lanka for Digital Marketing. Most of these people were trained at one-day bootcamp sessions, but there were around 50 people who completed the six months certificate course offered by EBA. Due to the busy schedule of the people involved, EBA went inactive for quite a sometime, but we kept getting calls asking for the date of next certification course batch.
Now we have decided to totally revamp our courses and planning to launch a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing in association with Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLT Campus) in March.
This is probably the best digital marketing training you can give your marketing staff in Sri Lanka. We selected Sri Lanka’s most experienced digital marketing professionals; each specialized in their own area of expertise. Resource panel consists of myself and Suranga, and expert marketers like Rohan Jayaweera (former Googler), Gamika De Silva (former SLIM president), Manupriya Jayathilake (Google Analytics Certified Expert), Mohenesh Buthgamuwa (Mindshare Sri Lanka), Gayathri Seneviratne (eCommerce Manager for Jetwing), Chamara Peiris (UI/UX expert), Upeksha Premathilake (Google Certified Adwords Consultant), Milinda Tilakaratne (Manager eSales at Dialog Axiata) and many more guest resource persons. (Check all the resource persons profiles here)
This Diploma in Digital Marketing Course is an outcome of over one year of research and efforts by me, Suranga and Rohan and other resource persons are adding an immense value in delivering the course modules we developed by carefully benchmarking several international courses.
If you are looking for a good training program for developing the digital talent in your marketing team, check out the detailed courseoutline and make an inquiry here.
Our aim is to train and certify at least 70 good quality digital marketers before the end of 2016. This will be a real career booster for them, as the demand for qualified digital marketing professionals is increasing day by day.
UPDATED: 2016 Statistics are in this latest post.
InternetWorldStats.com has published the latest figures for internet users worldwide and according to them the latest internet penetration figure for Sri Lanka is 25.8%.
InternetWorldStats.com has published the latest figures for internet users worldwide and according to them the latest internet penetration figure for Sri Lanka is 25.8%.
This is a total of 5,689,800 internet users in Sri Lanka as of 31st December 2014. Mind you, we are in the December of 2015 and these numbers are already one year old. If we apply a modest 20% year over year growth rate (YoY growth rate for Sri Lanka was always higher than 25% in past five years), we can expect this number to stand at 6,827,760 internet users in Sri Lanka as of 31st December 2015, which will be a penetration of 32% of the total population.
For last three years, I have been publishing an analysis about Sri Lanka internet penetration figures on my blog. Previously, I’ve blogged about when Sri Lanka reached double digit mark in internet penetration, and then I wrote this blog when we reached 3 million internet users in SriLanka. Last year I published a blog when Sri Lanka reached the 4 millioninternet users.
Here's the latest. Sri Lanka has officially crossed 5.5 million internet users as per International Telecommunications Union.
In all my previous analysis, I took InternetWorldStats.com and International Telecom Union (ITU) as my source of data. However the credibility of these sources was challenged by some people.
We live in a country where there is no proper institute carrying out research and surveys on internet usage. We don’t have ComScore reports for Sri Lanka, we don’t have eMarketer reports, no BuzzMonitor or anything reliable as an information source. Whatever the local initiatives we have here are far less credible and reliable than ITU and InternetWorldStats.com.
Central Bank of Sri Lanka reported, that the number of internetconnections in Sri Lanka counts to about 2 million end of 2014. If we apply an average of 3 people using one fixed line connection that will be roughly about 6 Million internet users.
According to Google Adwords Display Ads Planner tool, advertisers can target 5.5 Million to 10 Million unique cookies (a cookie is assumed to represent one person, but there can be duplication).
Facebook reports 3.5 million monthly active Facebook users in Sri Lanka. If apply the global Facebook penetration (to internet users) figure of 50%, we can forecast roughly about 7 Million internet users in Sri Lanka.
If we put all these sources of information on the table and take a look, we are seeing a number in the range of 6.5 Million to 8 Million as the total internet user base in Sri Lanka.
Where there is no absolutely accurate source, people may still argue the credibility of the estimations we come up with available sources of data. But, we cannot wait until all the systems become perfect to keep up with the rest of the world.
Implications for Marketers
In my 2014 post about this topic, I mentioned it’s not going to be easy for any newcomer to compete on Digital Advertising platforms. This will remain to be true for 2016 as well. Already we see the CPM rates are increasing on most digital advertising platforms, even though it’s still not as expensive as TV or Print. Engagement rates and organic reach rates on branded Facebook pages keep dropping; meaning just having a Facebook page for your brand is not going to count as a proper digital advertising tactic.
These changes call for one thing; that is better expertise in digitally lead advertising and marketing strategies and tactics. Your company cannot afford to leave the digital marketing decisions of your brands to a set of interns with IT degrees. It requires better expertise, strategic thinking and common sense. 2016 is going to be a complete red ocean in Digital Marketing job market. Companies will try to headhunt expertise from other companies aggressively, creating more and more demand for Digital Marketers in the job market. As a buddying marketer, are you geared to cater this demand?
“The books I've written have actually had three different titles, updated with the times. I started with Internet Marketing, then Emarketing and in 2012 renamed the original Internet Marketing book to Digital Marketing, about time too since I was involved in developing the syllabus as an examiner for the IDM Diploma in Digital Marketing back in 2004-5 when the term was hardly used at all - so it's been great to see 'Digital Marketing' adopted as the 'de facto' term!” (Source)