Last month was great for the Philippine Internet.
No, I’m not going to say our Internet speed is finally as fast as Singapore’s. And, no, this isn’t because we trended worldwide again because of a TV show.
I’ve been tracking what has been read, watched and shared most in the Philippines for a year now. (You can check out my early compilations here
). Last week, I noticed two things that stood out.
What happened in November 2015 that was so important?
There were two things that got my attention:
For the first time, all the top Philippine searches were not driven by Metro Manila. Or CALABARZON.
The second most-searched word in the Philippines wasn’t even in Metro Manila’s top 5.
The second-highest search term was driven by Central Luzon, for two whole weeks in November 2015.
The search phrase that was part of the top Philippine searches, but not in Metro Manila or CALABARZON:
Yes, Central Luzon looked for Adele’s newest song more than people in or closer to Metro Manila.
These were the most searched for phrases in the Philippines that were unique to November 2015 (“Rising keyword searches):
And these were the search keywords we Metro Manilans were occupied with:
It was Central Luzon (and to some extent, the Davao region) that pushed the “hello” searches to the top 2 spot for the month.
On to the second new and special thing.
2. There are now a significant volume of searches in 7 more regions in the Philippines!
In the past years, there wasn’t a significant enough volume of usage for Google to measure Google searches in other areas.
When I started collecting search data, Google could only measure the rising search keywords in Metro Manila (e.g. Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan), CALABARZON (e.g. Antipolo, Dasmarinas, Bacoor), Central Visayas (e.g. Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City) and the Davao Region (e.g. Davao City, General Santos City and the City of Tagum).
Now, it can measure rising searches in 13 Philippine regions.
Why do these two developments make it a great day for the Philippines?
We’ll start to see the real potential of the Internet in our country, versus broadcast media.
For years, the American Internet / Web (please tell me if there’s a better way to phrase that) and particularly news outfits have been talking about “hyperlocal”.
With broadcast media, you can only do so much to make extremely locally relevant (town, municipality or niche community level) news. You would need to set-up a formal infrastructure, using company resources just to make sure different towns get content that’s relevant to them.
BUT, the Internet changed that in nations with more widespread internet usage – bloggers, podcasts, websites could be written from anywhere and be relevant to niche communities across the country, and not only be driven by formal institutions in capital cities.
Personal choice (Control) and Distributed power (Reach)
In the Philippines, without enough connectivity throughout the country, most of the online buzz was still driven and controlled by Metro Manila, and Cebu City.
But now, finally: we really get to see how online media differentiates itself from “broadcast” media, in terms of reach and control (personalization, always-on).
We get to see how the different regions, cities and towns begin to have their own subcultures and patterns and see how it impacts the country’s media tastes.
I did nationwide qualitative research for years, and I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. The day I’ll start to see the rest of the country have a voice in what gets shared and what is popular, as opposed to just the “key cities”. Our country is so diverse, and for me, this just means it’s going to be a pretty exciting year for the Philippine Internet.
Check back week-to-week, I’ll do my best to share regular updates. And if you want to help create something out of data like this, get in touch.