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Phuket business: Google bridges the gap

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket business: Google bridges the gap | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Amid the fast paced “age of online” a bulk of local businesses have fallen behind a rapidly evolving consumer base, and companies need to catch up, says Ariya Banomyong, head of Google Thailand

The country’s first manager for the iconic IT giant was in Phuket last week and the Gazette had the privilege to pick his brain for an hour.

“According to recent marketing research conducted by Nielsen in Thailand, the average consumer spends 11 hours per week in front of the TV, but 17 hours on the computer,” said Mr Ariya, who was born and raised in France and speaks four languages.

“Prime time is peak time. After coming home from work, you’d expect people to be watching TV – the news or soap operas – but they’re increasingly on the internet.

“The modern consumer multitasks, consuming traditional media and online media at the same time. The two types of media are complimentary. Traditional media is definitely not dead,” he said.

Mr Ariya pointed out that a third of Thailand’s population is online, compared to about 30% worldwide.

“This shows that internet penetration is not necessarily lagging in Thailand, even though broadband internet is still behind.

Ariya went on to highlight another booming trend ofthe last three years, which he says businesses would be wise not to ignore.

“The smart phone market has grown tremendously, with 28% of Thais owning one,” he says.

Elaborating on what he calls the “Online – Offline link,” Ariya said, “We find that when a product is launched using traditional media channels such as newspapers, TV and Radio spots, subsequent interest online is triggered.

“For example a new concept car is displayed at a car show in Japan or Abu Dhabi. Though it is not even available on the market, yet people in Thailand have heard about it offline and are already searching for it online.

“Using a free Google online tool called Insights for Search we can actually see the instant people began searching for a special keyword, like for example the infamous iPhone5 [which is not available yet] versus searches for the iPhone4, and can even track the search lifecycle in a country over time.”

Ariya points out that most businesses realize they need to do something to catch up with consumers but are not sure what to do.

“According to marketing research from the Consumer Commerce Barometer, on average 8 out of 10 consumers in Thailand are searching for local businesses, products and services.

“However only one out of 10 local businesses, products and services have a website,” he said.

Indeed, businesses need to catch up with consumers.

Ariya continues: “By surveys we found that there are three main reasons why these companies don’t have a website.

“In their perception, establishing a website is either very complicated, time consuming and/or costly.

“So, it has been our task to bridge the gap between these perceptions and actuality.

One such initiative is Google’s GTBO [Get Thai Businesses Online], a program targeting local businesses in Thailand, mostly SMEs [Small and Medium Enterprises].

“Through a partnership with the government and other private sector organizations, participants can get a free website, domain hosting, email and web hosting for life.

“Now we have over 88,000 sites since the project launched in June last year, however only 7% of these are in the Southern region.

“Thus, we see a massive amount of opportunity and potential for the GTBO program for SMEs in the South.

Delving into market penetration beyond GTBO, Mr Ariya went on to highlight two products from among its offering of 70, that local businesses can benefit from now: Google+ Hangouts and StreetView.

Hangouts are a one-to-many chat or conversation feature on Google+ which allows for remote teleconferencing.

“A recent example came about through a partnership with TRUE, who’s 3G+ network enabled a community health center doctor in Nongsamong Village in Nakorn Ratchasima Province, 2 hours north of Bangkok, to use Hangouts to consult with a specialist to diagnose a difficult case.

But Google+ isn’t just for connecting rural communities with healthcare, big brands are also gaining traction on what Google calls its’ social platform.

“We recently launched StreetView for three cities in Thailand: Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. We’ve gotten fantastic feedback from this program since we started driving to capture images across Thailand in September. Actually the week of the launch saw Street View become the most searched term in Thailand.

“Now companies in these cities can embed StreetView onto their website. This allows companies, be it a hotel or restaurant, to show off the actual 360 view of their establishment’s scenery and surrounding location.

“We are planning to launch StreetView in the other provinces, but this will take some time.

Meanwhile, in partnership with TAT, the “My Miracle Thailand” campaign will allow locals to contribute by suggesting special tourist attractions to feature on StreetView.

“For this we’ll use a Google Trike which is more suited for accessing certain sites that the Google StreetView cars couldn’t,” he revealed.

Speaking about the success of its past and present campaigns, Ariya said that establishing strategic partnerships has been integral.

For its GTBO campaign Google partnered with the Office of SME Promotion (OSMEP), Kasikorn Bank, the Thai eCommerce Association, Web Biz, Thai Post, and Dot Arai – the official domain registrar for Thailand.

According to research from AMI, prior to the GTBO launch an average of 20,000 new websites were launched in Thailand annually. Today, Dot Arai has effectively tripled that number with 88,000 businesses signed up and over 60,000 websites live and open for business.

“Almost any business can go online, with success stories ranging from a rice and curry shop to homemade cupcakes and even a tailor-made curtain business who went online to keep her business afloat during the floods.

“Our partners have delivered over 400,000 hours of in person training to help entrepreneurs take their first steps online. We’re ready to demonstrate our strong support for the national goal of economic growth in 2012 and see Thai businesses continue to grow sustainably online and inspire other countries to do the same,” he concludes.

— Steven Layne

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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Central Thailand

Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers

Maya Taylor

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Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

An airline executive has been arrested in the central province of Samut Songkhram, after complaints from150 employees that they had not been paid. Chawengsak Noiprasan, who had a court warrant issued against him in October, was taken to Don Muang police station from a property in the Bang Khan Take sub-district. He is a board member of Siam Air Transport.

The airline began operations in October 2014 with services out of Don Mueang to Hong Kong, using 2 Boeing 737-300s. 2 Boeing 737-800s were added to its fleet in late 2015. It expanded by adding Zhengzhou and Guangzhou in China to its network in early 2015. In late 2015, the airline launched flights to Macau and Singapore. In 2017, the airline ceased all operations.

But according to an article in the Bangkok Post, the carrier operates a number of scheduled and charter flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. The Post reports that, as Chawengsak signs the company’s legal paperwork, all legal matters concerning the airline fall to him.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau says the executive has admitted to ignoring a 30 day notice issued by the labour inspector and ordering the payment of wages to 150 workers. It’s understood he is also wanted in relation to 7 other cases.

The authorities sought Chawengsak’s arrest following complaints from employees who say they haven’t received their wages for 2 months. It’s understood the airline had previously deferred salary payments for over 8 months. 150 workers filed an official complaint with Don Mueang police and also approached media outlets, asking them to pressure the airline into paying the money owed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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