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Marketing & Media

Marketing and media is evolving every day in Cambodia, and competition is heating up as new players enter the scene.

Find out how to tackle the Cambodian advertisers’ market with B2B’s expert analysis.

If you can’t find you’re answer here, just ask us at B2B and we’ll point you in the right direction.

  • The marketing and media industries, which are regulated by the Ministry of Information, in particular its Media Department, are areas that continue to grow as more companies realise the important roles they play in helping to boost business.
  • Recently, Cambodia has seen a slight shift away from traditional forms of marketing and advertising, which dominate the arena.
  • Given the limited exposure to advertising for the majority of the past two decades, Khmer audiences are relatively unsophisticated compared to neighbouring countries, which is reflected in the overall standard of advertising material.
  • The introduction of several international and home-grown agencies has helped to raise standards, as has the development of university and college courses.
  • Marketing and media is entering a phase of massive innovation compared to past years.
  • Branding has taken centre stage.
  • For alcohol brand advertisers, a new law has been enforced banning alcohol TV advertising during primetime viewing of 6pm to 9pm.
  • Tobacco advertising was also recently banned, bringing Cambodia in line internationally.
  • Alcohol and cigarette branding at events still face no regulation in Cambodia although there are discussions of measures being introduced in the future.
  • A rise in new advertisers entering the market, an increase in networking events and billboards becoming more popular are other notable changes.
  • Branding is rising exponentially. More independent agencies are opening. The traditional larger agencies of Cambodia have shifted their focus to media, or concentrating on fewer clients. On the client side, companies realize that they need to stand out in a highly competitive market and are putting a larger focus on their marketing departments and communications strategies.
  • Facebook is an extremely powerful tool in Cambodia, but TV is still probably the most useful medium for most advertisers.
  • TV advertising dominates the arena, with 85% of Cambodians watching TV at least once a day.
  • Compared with the rest of the region, TV advert slots are relatively cheap.
  • Print advertising comes in the form of a range of newspapers and magazines, and radio is another popular option.
  • Print advertising will decrease as internet use continues to rise, with the internet eventually becoming the number one form of advertising in the future.
  • Facebook is a huge force in Cambodia.
  • Billboards and Tuk Tuk advertising remain popular.
  • Promotions and giveaways are often used to introduce Khmer to international products that have never before been seen in the Kingdom.
  • As the industry continues to develop, there are more and more options available to help spread your company’s message.
  • These include video and multimedia production, translation, design, media buying and graphic design.
  • The market has recently seen a rise in branding agencies as Cambodia continues to embrace brands.
  • Many companies offer Facebook and social media marketing packages – controlling Facebook feeds to maximise exposure of your business.
  • Marketing events are popular.
  • Facebook ranks as the number one website in Cambodia with a recent IMS Media Viewership Research study indicating 65% of internet users most commonly access Facebook with YouTube ranked second at just 19%.
  • At the beginning of 2013 there were just 700,000 Facebook users in the country but by 2014 this number had doubled to 1,400,000.
  • As of October, 2015 there are now 2,800,000 active Facebook users in Cambodia with around 100,000 new users joining the site each month. If growth continues then by Q4 2016 there should be over 4,000,000 users, the equivalent of 25% of the total population.
  • The highest concentration of Facebook users is centred in Phnom Penh with about 2,250,000 active in the province, accounting for 80% of the national user base.
  • Outside of Phnom Penh the provinces with the next largest number of active users are Kandal, Battambang, Kampong Cham and Sihanoukville/Kampot.
  • In terms of gender breakdown 62% of Khmer Facebook users are male and 38% are female.
  • Cambodia has one of the youngest populations in the world and this is reflected in the demographic makeup of Facebook’s user base with 89.3% aged between 18 and 34.
  • Cambodian Facebook users are twice as likely to like a post or click an advert than the average global user.
  • 92% of primary devices used by Cambodians to connect to Facebook are via mobile phones, one of the highest mobile penetrations of any country in the world.
  • 57% of users access the site using an Android smartphone while 27% use an iOS device (iPhone, iPod, iPad). Only 8% use a desktop computer as their primary device for connecting to Facebook.
  • Businesses, celebrities and media sources comprise the top five largest brand pages in the country with an average of 1,700,000 fans. In comparison the top five Twitter pages in Cambodia average 32,383 followers while the top five YouTube pages have around 7,500 subscribers each.
  • The top one hundred brand pages in the country all have a minimum of 100,000+ fans.
  • This makes the platform a popular one when it comes to promoting bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique stores targeting this audience.
  • LinkedIn and YouTube are other popular tools in Cambodia.
  • Twitter remains fairly unused but this looks set to change in the future. It is, however, popular with journalists.
  • Line is the leader in Cambodia in terms of apps but most companies lack the consumer data bases required to use them effectively.
  • User review sites are extremely persuasive in the realm of tourism – and must be managed if your tourism venture expects to survive in the longterm.
  • As in most areas of business, people are the key to success.
  • The right team for the job will help ensure that your products or services reach their intended audience in the best way possible and with a message that is culturally appropriate.
  • Even if you have a clear idea of the message you want to put out, it’s advisable to hire someone who can help you navigate the legal requirements for advertisements and the cultural implications of certain messages.
  • While there are some design schools producing a steady stream of graduates in Cambodia, their training typically focuses only in the use of computer programmes such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.
  • They may not enter the job market with their own ideas and innovation. Furthermore, they may need specialist technical training on top of their prior education.
  • However, this is predicted to quickly change as the value of these kinds of services and expertise are increasingly realised by local businesses and international players continue to enter the market.
  • New degrees are being formulated to meet this demand, and standards of education are rising.
  • When considering job candidates, this requires not just a face-to-face interview – but also involves exercises that test aspects of what would be their day-to-day job.
  • Don’t expect them to be able to do it perfectly but try to gauge their deficiencies and strengths before hiring.
  • An intern program may be a useful way to find diamonds in the rough.
  • With the industry still young, the media and marketing sectors are expected to grow rapidly into the future as the audience becomes more developed in these areas.
  • These days marketing and media in Cambodia involves more than just design and advertising agencies working with media outlets like newspapers, magazines, television and billboards.
  • Specialised communications, translation, video and multimedia production are increasingly available marketing services in Cambodia, and quality is rising fast too.
  • Companies range considerably in size and in the breadth of services offered.
  • Some will specialise in a particular niche such as print design or event management, whereas others are full service agencies that will do everything from branding to graphic design, media buying and more.
  • Others are engaged in broad market research and analysis, conducting surveys on consumer activity and, in some cases, building on their analysis with the provision of strategic advice and consulting services.
  • The market has recently seen a rise in branding agencies as Cambodia continues to embrace new brands.
  • The nation has also seen huge growth in new brands entering the country.
  • Before it was really only international companies bringing brands in – but now there’s a shift towards local companies bringing these brands in, and they all need innovative new ideas.

Marketing and Media In Cambodia Top Tips

Our industry insiders share how to make the most out of advertising and marketing.

  • Even if you are not Cambodian, you are in Cambodia so you need to respect local traditions and customs whenever your business is in the public eye.
  • Cultural norms like strong family values, respect and courteous manners are very big here, so understanding these nuances and realise that not violating them is very important.
  • Nationalism is a strong force in Cambodia, and Asia generally. When Khmers see a brand that’s made and produced in Cambodia, and the brand creates a sense of pride about being Cambodian, consumers really respond strongly.
  • Regardless of your approach, try to conduct message evaluation and concept testing before releasing any new marketing initiatives.
  • Businesses spend tons of money developing a specific campaign strategy and so they should ensure that the final message doesn’t offend anybody.
  • Another thing is the need for research data to support market localisation strategies.
  • A lot of international clients who enter the market  are soon recognising that you can’t just use the same strategy that you’ve used in your respective country and apply it to Cambodia, you have to localise your approach.
  • It can be a good idea to fuse a bit of Cambodian culture into an event.It needs to still have a local flavour. Ask clients for their list of guest of honours. If there are any ministers being invited, check what protocol you need to follow when they arrive.
  • People are drawn to emotional advertising in Cambodia.
  • Unlike in more developed countries, where the audience tends to be cynical about emotional connotations attached to a product, in Cambodia this is not the case.
  • They trust TV here – more than any other medium – meaning they are happy to take emotional TV ads at face value.
  • This helps hugely with brand awareness strategies as in some ways Cambodians are naive.
  • Word of mouth works well in Cambodia if you offer good quality work.
  • Word of mouth is essentially networking.
  • Every Cambodian network has a thought leader: That could be anyone, it could even be the local mechanic. In the West it might be a particular blogger who follows trends, whereas here it’s your uncle or your cousin or a local businessman. And if these thought leaders recommend your company, you are golden in that network.
  • So word of mouth within local networks remains highly important here.
  • If your business has been here for a while, and you provide a quality good or service, your clients will advertise on your behalf through word of mouth whenever they run in to a prospective client.
  • Copycats may well be your major challenge. And they are everywhere.
  • It is not uncommon for someone to directly copy your work and ideas to use for their own brands.
  • In Cambodia there is little recourse for this under current intellectual property laws.
  • Khmer communication is quite direct and factual, so the use of metaphorical messages or idioms are often lost. It’s important to be aware of what can translate from English into Khmer when writing copy.
  • Another common problem is promotional pitfalls.
  • With promotions and give-aways being a popular tool in the Kingdom, “overdoing” it can at times be a problem.
  • Giving away too much of a brand cheapens it and can give it an inferior image.
  • It may be hard to step back up to the premier league after too many cheapening promotions.
  • Cambodia is lacking in the variety of talent available for events. A solution is to get acts from neighboring countries.

Media Channels in Cambodia

Here’s a list of all your potential advertising mediums in Cambodia and how to get the most out of them.

  • Television, led by two main CBS-owned networks, dominates advertising in Cambodia, and makes up 96% of the total market.
  • TV advertisements are geared towards Cambodians, as there are no locally produced stations in English or other foreign languages.
  • TV advertisements are an effective means to reach a large national audience, though the advertising rates reflect the breadth of coverage.
  • Compared with the rest of the region, however, TV advert slots are relatively cheap in Cambodia.
  • TV daily peak times run from around 11am-1pm and 6pm-9pm. Peak time rates average at $356 per ad and Non Peak rates average at $32 per ad – according to Riverorchid Media.
  • Advertising on TV has set prices but there are multiple options available including product placement, sponsorship of shows and floating ads.
  • Content broadcast on TV, including advertising, has to pass a censor before being aired.
  • Locals seem to be more in tune with TV viewing than reading ads in magazines or newspapers.
  • Primetime TV varies, with lunchtime spots being a hit as well as early evening.
  • TV commercials can either be made independently or with the help of the TV station’s experts who will be able to advise on details.
  • There are over 200 radio stations in Cambodia.
  • Yet there is currently only one local English radio station, Love FM, which appeals mostly to young, urban Cambodians.
  • BBC World Service programs in English are available in Cambodia through the FM station, BBC 100 FM.
  • Advertising on radio is relatively inexpensive, and the stations can often help with producing jingles and other content. Before choosing to advertise, find out the station’s range and audience.
  • Be advised, you may need a Khmer speaker to help you communicate with the relevant people.
  • According to Riverorchid Media, Radio daily peak-time runs from around 6.30am-8:00am.
  • Peak-time rates average $12 per ad, and non-peak rates average $3 per ad.
  • There are numerous printed publications in Cambodia including daily newspapers, and weekly, monthly and quarterly magazines.
  • These are primarily in Khmer but also in English, French and Chinese, most of which include paid advertising space.
  • Newspaper advertising is relatively expensive, with rack rates of up to $1,000 for a page for one day. Some newspapers also offer less expensive classified advertising which is a popular choice for restaurants, bars and smaller businesses promoting events.
  • Glossy Khmer magazines such as Angkor Thom and Dara, which are the third most popular form of advertising, carry adverts mainly from healthcare and cosmetic companies, a reflection of their predominantly female audience, though there are a few magazines catering to specific market sectors such as fashion, motoring and mobile phones.
  • Be wary of stated circulation figures as there is no audit bureau and numbers are often inflated, although Cambodian readers will often rent or just borrow newspapers and magazines rather than buying them.
  • When buying advertising space you can generally negotiate on the price especially from the Khmer media whose “standard” rates are often inflated to allow them to offer you a “special” discount.
  • Printing technology in Cambodia is somewhat outdated compared to the western world, and many print shops still use film to make printing plates rather than modern digital methods.
  • Print is embracing new technologies, including C2P (computer-to-plate) technology, leading to quicker turnaround and lower prices.
  • Offset printing is still relatively expensive compared to Thailand or Vietnam, due mainly to the high cost of electricity, but any savings from printing overseas will be offset by the cost of transportation.
  • Prices have come down a little in the past couple of years due to stiff competition in the market, and it pays to shop around to get the best combination of cost, quality, service and credit terms.
  • For print jobs where colour balance is important, ask to see a colour proof as each new sheet is printed, so adjustments can be made at the earliest stage.
  • Billboards are still popular: According to Riverorchid Media, in Phnom Penh it costs between $300/m2 to $750/m2 for Billboard advertising space.
  • Tuk Tuk Advertising is also still popular: Tuk tuk adverts will cost $20 to print, and $7-10 per month display fees.
  • Cambodia’s web presence is increasing and more businesses and individuals are moving online.
  • The most recent figures show, Cambodia recorded about 2.7 million internet users – a 60% rise year-on-year. The kingdom has 27 internet service providers serving those subscribers, and with the number of blogs growing daily, so is the use of the internet as a means of marketing and advertising.
  • Coupled with the rise in the rate of internet use across the Kingdom, comes a rise in social media.
  • Facebook is the most popular medium and is an ever-present reality for most young Cambodians since launching in the country in 2009.
  • LinkedIn and YouTube are other popular tools in Cambodia. Twitter remains fairly unused, but is popular among media professionals.
  • You could almost say that Facebook is a sales tool in and of itself in Cambodia. Through Facebook you can reach a greater audience in Cambodia than through almost any other current digital media channel.
  • In recent times, stand alone companies have started offering Facebook marketing packages in Cambodia. These services help companies reach their prefered audience through content creation, increasing “likes”, analytics analysis, and management of everything else related to the business’s Facebook account.
  • In Cambodia, people often use Facebook to search for things, as opposed to starting with a Google search. This means that Facebook is a place for first impressions, and a place where, if a business has no presence, it will never be seen by potential clients.
  • Yet, despite its popular image as a free advertising medium, Facebook marketing can be costly.
  • To have effective Facebook marketing you have to spend money. In fact, you can almost equal it to spending on print media or on television if you are doing it right, suggest some experts. You may have to go that high on spending if you really want to have the right effect.
  • Furthermore, boosting a post (that is, paying Facebook to increase a post’s viewership) may not necessarily be worthwhile in the Cambodian market.
  • In larger markets, such as the US and UK, if you boost a post there’s automatically a large reach for that post. In Cambodia, there is a limited online audience who are actually able to buy whatever you might be selling, so you can’t just indiscriminately boost to attract a highly specific target-market.
  • Any Facebook strategy must be targeted given your potential consumer pool. You need to post in and engage with the right groups if you intend to find the people who will most likely buy your product.
  • In addition, Facebook can offer unclear feedback.
  • Cambodian Facebook usage differs to observed Western patterns of usage as they tend to hit the “like” button a lot more liberally.
  • The typical Cambodian Facebook user may “like” your posts even though they may have very little real affinity with your product, and have no intention of actually buying that product.

Market Research and Strategies

Here the nuts and bolts of marketing in Cambodia, along with a few words of wisdom from our industry players as to what might work, and what may not…

  • Targeting the right demographic for your products, services or business is essential.
  • Even with a growing number of research companies, the industry is still in an early phase of development.
  • Local companies often see research as a cost, not as an investment as is often the case in more developed markets.
  • A lack of publicly available information is also a problem for the industry, although the government, as well as the private sector are working to improve the situation.
  • There are a growing number of NGOs here who are also seeing the value of market research in providing their services, however these studies are more focused on social policy.
  • While Phnom Penh is the headquarters of a lot of businesses in Cambodia, don’t forget that Phnom Penh is a bubble, so local findings cannot necessarily be extrapolated to the national level.
  • Don’t forget, the vast majority of Cambodia is rural. This means the attitudes and behaviours of people in Phnom Penh do not represent the rest of the country – so it’s crucial to conduct research in a number of provinces to ensure a valid representation.
  • Marketing and media involves more than just design and advertising agencies working with media outlets like newspapers, magazines, television and billboards.
  • Branding, specialised communications, video and multimedia production, translation and more are available in Cambodia.
  • Companies range considerably in size and in the breadth of services offered.
  • Some will specialise in a particular niche such as print design or whereas others, such as Riverorchid and Phibious, are full service agencies that will do everything from branding to graphic design, media buying and more.
  • Smaller firms may not offer as many services or, like Quantum Publicity or Livewire Entertainment, specialise in one aspect of marketing such as public relations or event management.
  • Others are engaged more in market research and analysis, conducting surveys on consumer activity and in some cases building on their analysis with the provision of strategic advice and consulting services, such as Publicity Co and TNS Global.
  • We all know that there’s a lot more to social media than just setting up a Facebook page.
  • Awareness and interaction are key to formulating a solid digital strategy that will deliver success.
  • Carving out your target market should be the first step whenever devising a digital strategy.
  • This should be followed up by looking at the interests, age groups and stereotypes of these people.
  • Using online advertising to drive people to a well thought-out website is key.
  • An equally essential component for any brand’s marketing checklist should be tailor-making a website for the Cambodian market.
  • The way Cambodians interact with your website is very different to how those in the US will.
  • Cambodia is the first market in the world with more mobile telephone lines than fixed land lines, and, as such, the concept of mobile first and desktop following becomes an increasingly important consideration.
  • Advertising billboards are seen throughout the country, though advertising space is expensive and looks set to rise further, thanks to a shake-up to regulations.
  • According to Riverorchid Media, in Phnom Penh it costs between $300 per square-metre to $750 per square-metre for billboard advertising space.
  • The locations begin with single viewing locations, located on simple streets with only one opportunity for viewing, right up to locations with 2 or 3 opportunities for potential viewership. These spots are located on the busiest junctions and traffic lights in downtown, with standard ad sizes being 4x8m, 4x10m, 4x12m, 4x16m and 5x16m.
  • Metered taxis in Phnom Penh carry advertising on their doors and roofs and tuk tuks frequently have advertising banners affixed to their backs, costing around $7-10 per month.Tuk tuk advert will cost $20 to print, and $7-10 per month display fees.
  • Local printers can produce a range of signs, including paper of varying size, billboard and even plastic or tarpaulin.
  • Prices vary but signage is relatively inexpensive – keep in mind that retail businesses are often charged a “sign tax” based on the size and location.
  • Premium brands maybe should avoid tuk tuk advertising as they don’t reflect their premium position.
  • Below the line advertising techniques, as opposed to above the line ones that target mass audiences using avenues such as TV commercials and printed advertisements in newspapers, are more niche focused.
  • They allow the marketer to tailor their message in a more direct and personal way.
  • Below the line works well for consumer products at point of sale. For example, advertising at the bar when selling imported drinks at tourist guesthouses and bars.
  • Due to the thriving street culture of Cambodia, guerrilla-style marketing has a far-reaching impact on consumers, not least thanks to the prominence of word of mouth as a means of communication.
  • Below the line techniques are an excellent way to engage an audience and give them a memorable experience of a brand or message.
  • Experiential marketing, that’s the direct engagement with the customer, is hugely effective.
  • Attempts to think outside the box are slowly creeping in with experimental marketing campaigns starting to take off.



  1. An interesting overview of the increasing reach of mobile internet and social media to drive brand awareness in Cambodia.

    A breakdown of Khmer versus English Language social media campaigns with measured ROI would be a valuable addition to the digital media space in Cambodia. While brand awareness sends a valuable social signal, the real question is does this translate to increased revenue and sales.

  2. Hi Samreth,

    This is somewhat a discussion of semantics, but “marketing” is an umbrella term that’s as broad as it is deep, and public relations, as a business function, sits under that umbrella.

    The same goes for event management, social media, advertising, and any other discipline, activity, or initiative that serves the ultimate goal of revenue generation. That’s not to say they’re all one and the same — quite the opposite, in fact — but from a resourcing perspective, they will *always* exist on the same budget sheet as their collective purpose is to maximise revenue.

    (And yes, the same applies to brand development, reputation management, audience/customer engagement, crisis management, or any other “softer” discipline or sub-discipline. Businesses spend money on all of the aforementioned because they have a material impact on the bottom line.)

    From an organisational perspective, sales and marketing are two departments that are traditionally grouped together as one division. Operationally, there is little commonality in what employees of either actually do (ask a Sales Manager to swap desks with a Marketing Manager for a week and see what happens…) but the two are intrinsically linked, because the purpose of marketing and all its functions is to drive sales — marketing is the input, and sales (revenue) is the output.

    A company might have an internal marketing department and outsource certain functions to an external agency. This is commonplace where there is an accumulated or collective capital value to that function and a specialised professional services firm can do it more efficiently than if the company were to hire a dedicated employee or establish that department itself.

    Public relations is a great example. For the annual salary of one employee, a business can engage a PR agency on retainer and have a team of five people on their account with the collective value of the entire agency’s media relationships and domain expertise at their disposal. This is why agencies typically specialise in one particular discipline. (Albeit not in Cambodia, it would seem!)

    I would probably contest the grouping of marketing and media and suggest separating marketing and professional services firms focused on inbound marketing (i.e. web design and development) from more traditional outbound activity such as advertising and media, but Cambodia is a small place, B2B seem to be doing pretty well with the current structure, and I think there’s probably enough room for us all to exist and operate within the one drop-down 🙂


    Nick Chandler
    Indochine Communications

  3. I was so much interesting with what you are doing, it’s look very professional, but I was wondering is why event management was put in marketing areas since this work is in public relation filed, therefore how would you differentiate marketing and PR

    • Hi,
      Thanks for your comments. We don’t agree nor disagree with what you are saying but its subjective to say marketing and PR don’t or do go together. We could literally have hundreds of different sections if we wanted to create a category for every field of work but we have chosen the core categories and grouped different areas of business in these.

      I hope you understand.