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Lack of Local Content Slows Digital Advertising Growth In Bangladesh

Lack of local content has been slowing the growth of digital advertising industry in Bangladesh. According to several industry insiders, while the interest from brands and marketers about digital advertising is on the rise, the lack of local platforms and contents is straining the development.

Fuelled by the rapid growth in mobile and internet penetration, digital is becoming a part of daily life for a growing number of people. According to BTRC, Bangladesh has over 65 million internet users. The country has been seeing a rapid growth in smartphone penetration over the past few years contributing to a surge in mobile internet users.

This has led to an influx of digital spending by brands across the board. While a growing number of brands are now allocating budget for digital space, the growth is meeting a rather formidable challenge of lack of local content and content platforms where the budget can be spent.

In a recent interview with the Future Startup, G&R CEO Nazimuddaula claims that one of the major challenges for the nascent digital advertising industry in the country is content.

“There is a serious dearth of quality local content in our market. For instance, say our digital marketing budget grew by four times in the next few years what would happen, would we be able to spend the budget? The likely answer is no,” says Mr. Nazimuddaula.

This assumption supports a previous research conducted by GSMA Asia in July last year that said lack of awareness and local content remains the key reason why people don’t use mobile internet in emerging markets. While we see a growing internet penetration in Bangladesh, for the majority of the internet users it has become synonymous to social networking sites due to the lack of local content.

Mr. Nazimuddaula continues that social networking sites are there and a significant percentage of digital ad budget goes to Facebook but “there is a huge gap in terms of quality local platforms where you can spend. There are content producers and news sites that are trying to survive producing contents that are clickbait, in many instances, and are not of high quality. While it makes short-term survival easier, but it will have unintended long-term consequences.”

G&R CEO suggests that if we are to see a thriving digital advertising industry we need to invest in the local content ecosystem which would take significant effort and investment. Bangladesh has a large number of online media portals largely serving the similar and undifferentiated political and click bait contents. But there is a significant vacuum for quality content platforms that can serve a growing population that is joining the internet.

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