Myanmar, previously known as Burma, is home to 56m people from over 100 ethnic groups, half of whom are under 24. Sanny Manduapessy, Ebiquity’s Head of Data Analytics for Southeast Asia, gives the lowdown on a media industry experiencing major change.

TV is dominant, but hard to build reach 
Despite penetration of TV into 60 percent of households, it accounts for 70 percent of advertising spend. TV is fragmented, with 7 major free-to-air channels and 50+ digital, satellite, and pay TV channels. Audience figures cover only six major cities; they do not yet capture rural/communal viewing. Often this means advertisers reach less than half their measured target audience.

Mobile phone boom
Increased affordability means internet and mobile phone penetration are increasing rapidly. Mobile penetration is currently 42 percent, and internet penetration grew from 1 percent in January 2014 to 9 percent in November 2015. Social media is expected to explode. Media deregulation is anticipated after the handover of power in April 2016 following the recent election. Ensure your agency is monitoring and capitalizing on these
potential changes.

Manual system
TV Audience Measurement is still largely based on a diary system. People meter technology is unsupported because of inconsistent electricity supply and lack of widespread broadband connectivity. There’s limited automation of reports and agency buying tools compared with established markets, so it’s critical to understand what data is available and to put clear reporting calendars in place.

Money talks
Everything is traded in cash in Myanmar, preferably US dollars. Buyers can buy directly from the networks or via agents. These layers may result in increased paid commissions. Clients need to understand this risk and the importance to agencies of being paid promptly.

Being local matters
Through government intervention to protect local interests, international advertisers are charged a premium. Ensure you understand these differences and the different levels of tax.

Innovation is vital
With half the population under 24, and 60 percent of those living in rural areas, strategy to target consumers must reflect local market conditions. As elsewhere in the world with large, non-urban populations, brand activation campaigns work well in rural areas.

Dramas are popular
Dramas – particularly Korean dramas – are the top-rating programs in Myanmar. Thai dramas have become more popular in the last year. With the increase of domestic confidence, a resurgence in local programming is expected.

Local values should be respected
Myanmar is a Buddhist society. Religion impacts lifestyle and should be taken into account in consumer behavior and media. This needs to be considered when using international creative, as what is acceptable
internationally may not work in Myanmar.

Global best practice
With increasing foreign investment, the market is starting to welcome international experience. Not all agencies are exposed to global best practice, so it’s critical your agency is networked with other markets.

Talent is scarce
Media talent is scarce in Myanmar. International experience is valuable, but local expertise is a must. Having a strategy to attract and retain talent will pay dividends.

“TV Audience Measurement is still largely based on a diary system. People meter technology is unsupported because of inconsistent electric supply and lack of widespread broadband internet activity”