The State of Programmatic in Vietnam

Programmatic in Vietnam

Three decades after its restoration, known as “doi moi”, when Vietnam shifted from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented one, the country has witnessed significant development in technology infrastructure. Now, Vietnam is a mobile-first country with high mobile consumption, especially in major cities and regions.  

According to Newzoo, Vietnam ranks 15th in smartphone penetration globally, accounting for 45% of its population. This equates to about 50 million users and, given that the average time spent on smartphones is four hours daily, Vietnam has the potential to soon be one of the most promising mobile advertising markets in Southeast Asia.

Alongside the growth of mobile, digital ad spend, especially on mobile inventory, is increasing rapidly in Vietnam. Ad spend in the Vietnamese digital market is projected to reach US$339m in 2021, with 30% of digital ads being purchased through programmatic. Nevertheless, in Vietnam, the programmatic component of total ad investment still lags behind that of other Southeast Asia countries. 

Where to start? Popular app categories

Mobile-related businesses are emerging at a rapid rate to meet the rising demand of modern consumers in Vietnam. Chat apps, social networking, entertainment, games, and shopping apps are the most common activities on smartphones.  

The use of mobile apps by category

App Categories in Vietnam






Source: Vietnam Mobile & Smartphone Application Report H1-2020, Appota

With the impact of Covid-19, the number of downloads and the time spent on apps has increased dramatically. According to App Annie, global mobile app and game downloads rose in the first half of 2020, up 10% from the second half of 2019 and up 5% YOY. Games were the most downloaded category globally with a 25% increase, compared to the average of the second half of 2020. Vietnam showed the same trend, with game apps being the most downloaded category in 2020. 

Cloud conferencing apps, news and entertainment apps are the other three categories in Vietnam that also witnessed strong growth in downloads during the pandemic. 

Programmatic Trends

  • Video is King and Vietnam is no exception

With consumer’s short attention spans, short format advertising content is the key to marketing success. Rewarded video was the most effective ad format during the Covid-19 period in Vietnam, especially for mobile games on the Android platform. Android market share accounts for 64.57% of smartphones in Vietnam, making video content an effective digital marketing strategy for the Vietnamese market.

  • The power of Voice: Audio Advertising is set to be the next big thing 

Audio has become an integral part of our lives. reaching us in screenless moments where visual media cannot. While video ads currently form the main bulk of programmatic advertising, marketers agree that audio may be ready to take over the programmatic market in the near future. If we are listening on-the-go, or while multi-tasking or working, we are unlikely to stop and mute a 15-second audio ad, and this gives audio advertising an advantage over other visual ad formats. 

  • Artificial Intelligence applied to Mobile Marketing 

The main benefit of the adoption of AI is the possibility to better identify and understand your target audiences and thus, deliver more relevant and customized messaging.  AI is an ideal feedback tool to be investing in right now to get in-depth data-based insights on each marketing campaign. Their sophisticated models allow you to analyze big chunks of data and group similar data sets, opening up room for learning, even when data is scarce.

CPI trends

Another reason to implement programmatic in Vietnam is the low cost-per-install (CPI) rate. The CPI is relatively inexpensive in Vietnam compared to other Southeast Asia countries and has shown a declining trend recently. 

A report conducted by Chartboost indicates the mobile game app CPI changes in the Vietnamese market from January 2019 to March 2020.

Screen Shot 2021-01-28 at 1.45.21 PM Source: Chartboost, April 2020 via eMarketer

Screen Shot 2021-01-28 at 1.51.11 PM
 Source: Chartboost, April 2020 via eMarketer

Even with the effects of COVID-19, app usage and downloads have still been rising sharply, meaning there is more available inventory and more opportunity for advertisers to acquire reach. 

At Aarki, we run multiple advertising campaigns in Vietnam and our analysis shows that the ROI performance for this market is on par with other Southeast Asia countries.

Without doubt, now is the perfect time for you to launch your mobile apps and reach Vietnamese app users. 


Topics: Marketplace Insights