A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Technology did not kill the Filipino Comics Industry: A Supplement

The misinformed usually start their ill-conceived argument like this: the Filipino comics industry is dead. Printed comicbooks are outmoded and face stiff competition from new digital or interactive media such as internet and the mobile phone. Advertisers (and users) are more inclined towards this new media than print.

The problem with this argument is that it assumes (albeit wrongly) that in a third world country like the Philippines this new media is already in use today by a great number of lower income Filipinos. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Donald Patrick Lim is the President of the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines, or the IMMAP. His article on the November 29, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, disclose that though there has been tremendous increase in the use of digital media, it is still in its infancy. Thus:

"Internet and mobile marketing are still at the infancy stage in the Philippine business environment. While the industry is experiencing rapid growth rates in North America and Europe, the opposite can be said locally. However, the users of the two marketing medium in the country have grown tremendously through the years, with Internet users totalling to nine million or nine percent of the total population. Mobile users on the other hand, boast a staggering 35 million users or 40 percent of the population. Both media just started around 10 years ago, and the growth rate is faster compared to any traditional media in history. xxx To date, web and mobile acconts for 10 percent of advertising spending in the U.S. and is expected to increase to 40 to 50 percent within the next couple of years in certain industries.

In the Philippines, marketing through the web has yet to take off. Last year, it is estimated that online ad spending would sum up to only Php 100 million, a measly 0.2 percent of the total advertising spending. Mobile shares the same fate, although while they are higher than web advertising, they are also a small percentage of the total ad mix. xxx With the power of being digital and interactive, it goes without saying that local Internet and mobile media, at this stage, is underutilized and not given adequate attention. Both are seen as a technophile tool, somewhat confined only to those who are "geeky" enough to understand them.

It is because of this that companies belonging to the Internet and mobile media have come together to form IMMAP, and embarked on working towards educating and providing the necessary digital tools for advertising and marketing professionals to make better communication decisions. It is believed that the two media will soon be utilized and used as complementary marketing tools to traditional media once advertising and marketing professionals understand how these can be used and optimized. "(Source: Donald Partrick Lim, "IMMAP: Marketing Reloaded", Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 29, 2006 issue)

The above in mind, we have to ask: if until now the use of digital and interactive media is still in its infancy, how could anyone say that (a) this killed the Filipino comics industry in the late 1990s and (b) that this new media is an obstacle to jumpstarting the revival of the local comics industry?


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