When starting pay-per-click (PPC) activity in new markets, many would think to use Google. However, there are a few markets where local platforms have the biggest share. One such country is South Korea.
In this blog, we will explore South Korea’s primary search engine, Naver, and share insights on why marketers should use this platform when looking to expand into the South Korean market.
What is Naver?
Naver is South Korea’s first and main portal website and has attracted many users since its launch in 1999. Naver offers a number of popular services on their site such as Naver Knowledge IN, Naver Blog, Naver Café, and Naver Webtoon. This platform is a one-stop shop which provides various services and information to people in South Korea.
Recently, Naver has grown in popularity as an effective live commerce, video commerce, and e-commerce platform. They have rapidly expanded their offerings to accommodate various features such as price comparison, shopping search and pay service, which further strengthened their position as a leading e-commerce platform. They also recently launched a new Naver Plus paid membership option, which is thought to have increased their brand loyalty by creating the “user lock-in” effect.
South Korea’s most popular platform
Naver is the most widely used platform in South Korea, with more than 90% of people using the search engine at least once a week. It also has the biggest market share of over 58% in the country (2019).
However, the rapidly growing rate of Google’s popularity cannot be ignored. In 2017, Naver’s share was over 83% (see graph below), with Google at about 5%. In just two years, Google’s share increased to 34%. The reason behind this growth can be attributed to the increasing search queries on YouTube, Chrome browser, and Google Search, which are all embedded in Android phones.
Considering those recent changes in share, we’d recommend using both search engines – Naver and Google – to cover most of the search queries in South Korea.
Naver Search ads (Powerlink and Biz site)
Naver is quite a unique platform in various ways. If you are managing Google or Microsoft ads, you need to change your mindset when managing Naver search ads.
Up to 15 ad positions on the search results page
On Naver, there are 15 ad positions on the first page – Powerlink, the 10 ads shown on the top part of the search results page, and Biz Site, the five ads shown below Powerlink or at the bottom of the page. If you search a query on Naver, most of the search results are ads. Moreover, there are places for Naver services on the results page as well. For advertisers, it is very important to add unique selling points to their ads to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
The only keyword match type is “exact”
Unlike Google or Microsoft ads, there is no match type other than “exact” on Naver. It is best to conduct keywords search when you launch a new account, using the keywords search tool provided by Naver.
As there are only exact match keywords, you need to think about every possible keyword to add. Also, it may take longer for a new account to become mature and stable in comparison to other search engines. It is necessary that you regularly check if any other potential keywords can be added.
To find potential keywords, one can use the Keyword Expansion feature (beta). We recommend utilising this option to find more variations of keywords and to display more ads with them.
Brand Search ads
Brand Search ads are a great feature on Naver that allows advertisers to show their ads at the top of search results pages with images or a video of their products (which can be linked to each product page). The keywords are brand terms or words highly related to their brand. Brand keywords can include a business name, product brand name and site identity. There should also be a relevant link between the brand keywords and the images/videos.
Croud has been using this feature for our clients, and we’ve seen great results with very high click-through-rates (CTRs). On Naver, it is hard to raise brand awareness just through organic search, so we highly recommend using this feature.
Image & Video Extensions
The ad format on Naver is short, leaving limited space for advertisers to display a number of selling points. One headline is limited to 15 characters, while one description is limited to 45 characters.
Instead, we can use some extensions to add extra information to ads. There are a variety of ad extensions available on Naver such as Sublink, Promotional Text, Price and Location. Among them, Image extensions have proven to attract users’ attention with additional images shown alongside the ads, ultimately driving a high CTR.
Also, creating promotional videos recently became an available option for marketers. It allows the opportunity to provide additional information about your product via a video format and garner more searches. Considering Naver is a strong contender in the video commerce field, it is worth taking advantage of this extension.
As mentioned above, there are typically 10 to 15 ads on one page. As people are more likely to look at ads to find a company that provides their desired services (not organic searches), it is important to create ads that are attractive and engaging. We highly recommend using various extensions where possible.
Content marketing & SEO
Now, I assume some of you started to wonder where the organic search results are being shown on Naver. Some people may even say that SEO doesn’t exist on this particular platform.
Yes, there is in fact a space for organic, but you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find it. There are usually only three organic results shown on the page, or you may not see any of them at all. Moreover, it is notoriously difficult to show up in the organic search results section unless the brand is already well-known in South Korea. This means that a company trying to get into the Korean market will find it very hard to gain attention through the organic search section.
So what are some other ways marketers can raise brand awareness apart from paid search?
There are several features you can use on Naver to attract potential customers, and one of them is Naver Blog. This is a widely used part of the platform in South Korea, as many people often look at blogs to find good services. According to a survey conducted by OpenSurvey in 2018, Naver Blog ranked second among the most popular social media platforms in Korea.
Once you set up an official blog on Naver where you can promote your services, you can link it to a type of ad called Power Contents. This type of ad will be shown in the “view” section, just under Power Link ads (keyword search ads) and the price tends to be lower.
Posting events and stories on Naver Blog will help people gain information about your services, and by linking to Power Contents, it increases the visibility of the blog and, ultimately, your brand. However, there is a list of keywords which are available to set up and use Power Contents, so before considering this ad option, you need to check the list of keywords you can use for your company.
Apart from the ones described above, there are a lot more features you can use to establish your appearance in South Korean markets, such as Naver Display and Naver Shopping ads. If you are planning to expand your visibility in South Korea, it is worth considering Naver as your primary platform.
To learn more about Naver and your options when entering the South Korean market, please get in touch with our PPC team.