Digital Ads Landscape In Vietnam 2020

In Vietnam, online advertising follows specific rules. The most effective social channels are not necessarily the same as in Western countries. Forget about Twitter: this platform is nonexistent in Vietnam. Should you expect many business opportunities from LinkedIn? In Vietnam, locals mostly use this platform for recruitment only.

If you are looking for valuable insight tips, this article is for you. First, we will share a 2020 overview of the online advertising situation in Vietnam. After that, we will invite you to discover what are the most effective ad channels in this country.

Online advertising in Vietnam

The Vietnamese digital landscape is full of opportunities, especially for online advertising. Look at these facts about Vietnam in 2020:

  • 100 million inhabitants
  • 150% mobile phone connections (vs total population)
  • 70% internet users
  • 67% active social media users

Vietnam’s population is young (median age: 32 years old). They massively consume internet and social media platforms, and smartphones penetration is extremely high. In 2019, the average monthly income per capita was 4,200,000 VND. Despite that, it is common to see Vietnamese people owning several smartphones.

Legislation on advertising

The Vietnamese government controls digital marketing bet setting these rules:

  • Only companies licensed in Vietnam can do advertising
  • No advertising on weapons, cigarettes, tobacco, or alcohol above 15% by volume
  • Some specific industries must get approval from relevant Ministry (ex: pharmacy, cosmetics)
  • Domestic companies cannot spend more than 10% of total expenses in advertising

International advertising enterprises cannot sign contracts with local media agencies. They must partner to run ad campaigns on newspapers and TV commercials.

Legislation on advertising

Electronic payment methods

Only 4% of the population owns a credit card, mostly from urban regions. Cash is king in rural areas which count for 2/3 of the country.

In consequence, we see low penetration with online payments with e-commerce websites relying on cash on delivery. Vietnamese people massively search on the internet but there is a lack of trust in online banking services. In 2020, around 40% of the population feels concerned by cyber security issues. The government takes efforts to regulate accordingly.

Moreover, locals generally prefer physical shops resulting in only 21% of Vietnamese people aged 15+ years making online transactions. The covid-19 pandemic slightly boosted cashless transactions, but paper money will stay around for a while.

Traditional versus online advertising

Advertising in Vietnam is still dominated in 2020 by:

  • Television
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Radio

In parallel, new brands discovery sources are evolving. In January 2020, search engines did beat ads on television (respectively 40% and 39%). Google, YouTube, and Facebook became the top growing channels to consider for advertising products and services, however television remains a big advertising medium. Online advertising is increasingly benefiting from smartphone and internet penetration.

Here are the main benefits of online advertising versus traditional channels:

  • Performance tracking: online tools and analytics allow advertisers to follow metrics
  • Targeting options: delivering ads to the right audience at the right location at the right time
  • A/B testing: easily and quickly test ad creative variations
  • Return on investment: cheaper than traditional ads to reach a more qualified audience
  • Interactivity: online users have some control on what they see (preferences)

Traditional versus online advertising

Digital ads players in Vietnam

Most of advertising agencies in Vietnam are foreign companies. They usually spend 50% of their budget on social media ads and the other half on search engines. Contact Primal Vietnam if you are looking for a SEO & PPC agency in Vietnam.

In this country, people want to spend on ads that get actual results. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are crucial for businesses. Recently, the trend for Cost Per Mile (CPM) has declined despite its low risk. In 2020, ads focus is on Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

Finally, it is important to consider that trust is a serious matter in Vietnam. Brands must differentiate with strong client relationship and publish meaningful content to win.

How to run paid ads campaigns?

Before having a look at the top #6 list of most efficient advertising channels in Vietnam, below is a quick guideline for running digital ads:

  • Set objectives: ALWAYS have a clear business target in mind (ex: awareness or conversions)
  • Target the audience: use the ad channel setting options to segment as precisely as possible
  • Create relevant ad labels: produce creatives dedicated to each audience and A/B test them

Running digital ad campaigns can be time-consuming for in-house teams. Besides, it is easy to waste media budget when lacking experience. For this, asking for support from a professional advertising agency in Vietnam is a good solution.

How to run paid ads campaigns?


To choose the most suitable ad channels, you need to understand the market and trust local experts. After running thousands of campaigns for hundreds of brands, we recommend the following advertising platforms in Vietnam:

  • Google
  • Coc Coc
  • Programmatic
  • Facebook
  • Zalo
  • TikTok

Of course, we must consider business objectives, targeting options, audiences, and industries to build a perfect digital marketing strategy. Let’s have a look at every channel in detail.

#1 Google (and YouTube) ads

Google is the biggest digital platform for people looking for product or services. True worldwide and true in Vietnam, so we must not ignore this ad channel today. These 2020 online search statistics confirm the power of Google, both in organic and paid search.

Regarding online ads, Google does offer several services. Here are the most valuable ones for Vietnam:

  • Google ads search
  • Google ads display
  • Google ads video
  • Google ads shopping

Primal Vietnam is a Premier Google Partner. From our experience, we recommend those ad solutions depending on various factors. Below is a breakdown.

Google ads search

It is one of the favorite Cost Per Click (CPC) model thanks to the high user intent. When people type a query on a search engine, they are interested in this topic. Unlike banner or video ads thrown at their face, users do pay attention to the results.

Of course, their level of engagement depends on where they are in the sales funnel. When people are just looking for general information about a certain topic, they may not convert at all. On the opposite, when users have a purchase intent, Google ads search becomes an excellent way to get them to open their wallet!

#1 Google (and YouTube) ads

In 2020, the average CPC on this channel is around 3,500 VND. This varies based on the industry and competition of course.

To be successful on Google ads search, make sure to:

  • Perform proper keywords research
  • Segment ad groups as small as possible
  • Run A/B test on ad labels (diversification)
  • Create dynamic ads
  • Monitor ads performance… and adjust

Google ads display

The Google Display Network (GDN) is a digital publishers’ network with high coverage all over the globe. Same as for Google ads search, advertisers bid on cost per click (CPC) for a lower fee (average 1,050 VND per click). Engagement and intent are not as high: GDN is mostly a good channel for brand awareness and driving traffic to landing pages.

Targeting options are different from Google ads search. Advertisers select banners placement by topic and interest. They can also remove specific domains if they do not want their ads to appear on them.

Since it is harder to grab online users’ attention from ad banners, creatives need to be well polished. Check the guideline below to maximize their efficiency.

Google ads display tips for Vietnam:

  • Optimize image size to 150KB max for highest possible quality
  • Have as little text (including logo) as possible on image
  • Design the banner ad following landing page art direction
  • Add a clear Call To Action (CTA) on the image
  • Run A/B test on banners as much as possible
  • Focus on banner sizes: 300×250, 728×90, 160×600, 300×600, 970×90, 320×50 (mobile)

Check more details about the best ad banner sizes for 2020.

Google ads video

Google acquired YouTube in 2006 and today, both platforms are the top #2 of search engines worldwide. YouTube is, without any doubt, the biggest video social platform. Costs in Vietnam are as low as 45 VND per view. The drawback is that YouTube does not do very well in terms of conversions. Your brand, product, or service can reach lots of people. But impressions are not good indicators of engagement.

TrueView in-stream and in-display video ads are the way to go. They get a huge reach and some of them cannot be skipped. To support TrueView ads, consider the Bumper ads (6-second non-skippable) for driving brand reach and frequency.

Maximize YouTube ads performance with these recommendations:

  • Target an 18-45 year old audience in Vietnam
  • Narrow down ad settings to relevant content by channels or by videos
  • Make long videos: local people have more patience than average (19 seconds versus 8 worldwide)
  • Check competitors’ videos and design differently to stand out
  • Analyze competitors keywords and video tags to capture their viewers

Google ads shopping

Due to the lack of online payment penetration in Vietnam, Google shopping is more a “growing trend” rather than a high-performance campaign channel. It still works well with the local “cash on delivery” culture. In Vietnam, advertisers can expect getting online sales 1 or 2 hours after launching the campaign.

Local ecommerce platforms such as Lazada or Shopee dominate the online shopping market. Google ads complements extremely well this marketing strategy. Depending on your products and industry, you can sell more on Google ads shopping than on those giant online stores.

Keep in mind that, if Google ads search gets higher positions than organic results, Google ads shopping goes even higher than search ads! This makes sense: the intent of users looking for specific products to buy is naturally higher than the intent of people just looking for generic information.

Here is how you can rock with Google ads shopping in Vietnam:

  • Polish your Google product feed before launching the campaign
  • Make sure product pricing is competitive versus other online stores
  • Spend time on product images (most crucial part of Google ads shopping)
  • Start with small bids to focus on quality traffic first (quantity comes very fast in Vietnam)
  • Use audiences to retarget users who did not convert before

#2 Coc Coc ads

#2 Coc Coc ads

Coc Coc is a web browser like Google Chrome. Also based on Chromium code, Coc Coc focuses on the Vietnamese market with specific language and localization features. In 2020, it reaches 25% of the Vietnamese market in terms of monthly active users.

Coc Coc ads work much like Google ads: similar costs, similar targeting options, similar ad placements. The best ways to advertise on Coc Coc are:

  • Focus on local markets and places
  • Resize your banners to 640×360 or 728×90
  • Consider time-limited promotions: Vietnamese people love discounts
  • Write short ads following the format “benefit-difference-proving”

#3 Programmatic ads

#3 Programmatic ads

With programmatic advertising, you can buy and sell ad inventory in real-time. The main difference with other ad channels is that programmatic uses an auction-based software rather than manual negotiations. Such automation increases both the targeting and efficiency of advertising.

Besides, programmatic ads are mostly used for banners rather than ad text since the Demand-Side Platforms (DSP) were purposely designed around building display ad campaigns. They are an excellent addition to Google Display Network (GDN) but be aware they are also x3 times more expensive (3,000 VND per click).

Be successful with programmatic ads with the following advice:

  • Start with just 1 DSP and monitor the performance then test different channels
  • Integrate a 3rd party Data Management Platform (DMP) for better targeting
  • Target broadly first then narrow the audience
  • Use conversion tracking and lookalikes whenever possible

#4 Facebook (and Instagram) ads

#4 Facebook (and Instagram) ads

Facebook is the third most used online platform after Google and YouTube, and remains the biggest social media channel available in Vietnam in 2020. It owns the Instagram platform, both offer ads options, which we will detail below.

Facebook ads

With such high social media penetration rate, Facebook ads are almost always considered for digital marketing strategy in Vietnam. Locals spend 2.5 hours per day on the platform in average. The best target audience on Facebook are the 20-40-year-old.

Facebook ads work like Google ads with campaigns, ad sets (ad groups on Google), and ads. Objectives, targeting, and creative options are not the same as Google though. CPC in Vietnam is around 3,600 VND in 2020.

Best recommendations for setting Facebook ads are:

  • Publish videos (Vietnam is top #4 countries with highest engagement)
  • Use objectives such as reach, engagements, clicks, and conversions
  • Segment ad set targeting options as small as possible
  • Run A/B test campaigns to optimize ad creatives

Instagram ads

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012. This photo and video sharing social network is an excellent way to leverage Facebook data. Both platforms are independent but still work very well together. By default, when setting up Facebook ads, you can also run Instagram ads easily.

Instagram’s audience is quite different from Facebook though, especially in Vietnam. Users are younger (local teenagers prefer Instagram over Facebook). Above all, people on Instagram are more passionate about topics and usually follow brands longer. For this reason, Instagram ads in Vietnam are more expensive: around 6,000 VND per reach (CPR ‘000).

To run Instagram ads, consider the following hints:

  • Use Instagram for fashion, cosmetics, travel, art, food & beverage, and any visual products
  • Remember ads are more limited than on Facebook (ex: image on post, video duration)
  • Follow-up closely Instagram ads (more than on Facebook)
  • Use Vietnamese influencers: Instagram is one of their favorite channels

#5 Zalo ads

#5 Zalo ads

Zalo is a messaging application that dominates the Vietnamese market. As a leading media platform right after Facebook and YouTube, it works on mobile only but is extremely powerful. Built in 2012 by VNG Corporation, it solves many local pain points: good user experience even on old devices, better privacy, many integrated features such as Zing MP3 or Zing Me. Vietnamese people also love this app because it was created by a local technology company.

Many consider Zalo as Facebook’s local competitor. In fact, it combines well with Facebook and Instagram ads. 93% of Vietnamese people use messengers and social networking apps in 2020. At 2,800 VND per click, it is always a good strategy to integrate Zalo ads within any online marketing plans.

Check these pro tips to advertise efficiently on Zalo:

  • Focus on local areas (Zalo being better than other channels for this)
  • Target 15-45-year-old with an emphasis on 30+ segment
  • Diversify ads and target groups to identify the best opportunities
  • Keep good relationship with Vietnamese moderators
  • Forget user interest targeting (not available)
  • Focus on city, gender, age, and device operating system

#6 TikTok ads

#6 TikTok ads

TikTok is a Chinese short-form video-sharing application that became available worldwide in 2018 (2017 in China). It made video editing incredibly simple. Anyone can put together clips with a range of effects.

In Vietnam, TikTok is the trendiest social platform in 2020. The number of active users continuously increases monthly. Be careful: this channel is not for all brands and all audiences. Most TikTok users are between 13 and 35 years old.

The process of running ads on TikTok is similar to Google or Facebook. There are also 3 levels: campaign, ad group, and ad. In 2020, it is still quite cheap to advertise on TikTok: 700 VND per click in Vietnam. It is the right time to take advantage of this platform.

On TikTok ads, do apply these tricks:

  • Publish creative videos (do not copy Facebook posts)
  • Choose the best objectives: brand awareness, clicks, conversions, and app installs
  • Run A/B test on the CTA and pick the best performing
  • Bid as low as possible
  • Leverage the trendy sounds available for free on the platform

Online advertising to crush your competitors

The development of internet and digital platforms made online advertising a sure value in Vietnam. Industries such as FMCG, healthcare, fashion, cosmetics, and retail do spend more and more on digital ads to benefit from the rising disposable income of the Vietnamese population.

Running ads is challenging in every country. In Vietnam, the struggle is real for businesses without local staff and relying on Google Translate. Trust us: you cannot be successful on Google, Coc Coc, Programmatic, Facebook, Zalo, and TikTok in Vietnam if you do not work with a local partner.

If you want to promote your brand or get conversions for your product, consider working with experts. They have experience running ads in Vietnam, they do have the resource capacity, and the balanced structure as well. Get a proposal for your digital advertising campaign now!