Formula 1 (F1) recently crowned the German, Sebastian Vettel, of the RedBull team as their new champion, but Asian e-Marketing is not putting the race itself into the limelight as we will instead focus on e-marketing campaigns.

Prior to the Singapore Grand Prix 2010, Experian Hitwise, a leading online competitive intelligence service, released data of a study that revealed the need for F1 brands to better drive their online marketing.

Overall, it seems that F1 is not a key area of interest for Singaporeans, with searches for ‘F1’ only placing 127th among other search terms made by Singapore Internet users in the run up of the event.  Coupled with search clicks for F1 at 22% and Formula 1 at 3%, this leads to the conclusion that marketers of Formula 1-related brands should definitely work on their brand’s visibility in the local market.

A comparison of search data between 2009 and 2010 reveals that Singapore Internet users seem to favour using the term F1 over Formula 1 when searching for event-related information online.  In addition, Singaporeans seem to be most preoccupied with F1 about three weeks prior to the event.  This is then followed by a dip in searches before a peak during the actual event (See Figures 1 and 2)

Figure 1: Search term share of traffic in 2010












Source: Experian Hitwise Singapore (September 2010)

Figure 2: Search term share of traffic in 2009











Source: Experian Hitwise Singapore (September 2010)

While terms like F1 and Formula 1 are top of mind for Singapore Internet users around the topic of motorsports, Experian Hitwise also found that key sponsor brands and F1-related brands including Singapore Tourism Board, Redbull, Johnnie Walker, and Shell did not turn up among search terms relating to motorsports.

“Marketing for brands associated with niche events like F1 is a tough business, as getting the right timelines for campaigns and reaching out to the right target audience through the right channels are factors that could make or break any online marketing campaign,” said Graeme Beardsell, Managing Director for South Asia, Experian.  “We believe that F1 marketers, in order to achieve marketing success and improve advertising effectiveness per dollar spent, need to market forward with predictive insights from existing trends to improve audience engagement in the digital media space.”

Formula 1 global websites continue to capture the interest of Singapore Internet users

Singapore Internet users continue to visit global sites over local sites when they search for information around Formula 1, with only two of the top ten popular motorsports websites being from Singapore.  While it is no surprise that the global Formula 1 site tops the list of most popular websites relating to motorsports, representing 30% of visits, it is interesting that the Singapore Formula 1 site sees a progressive increase in popularity during the weeks preceding the local event taking 11% of visits (See Figure 3).

The popularity of the Singapore site, as compared to ESPN (10%), The Official Moto GP Website (7%) and (6%), represents a clear opportunity for F1 marketers to focus their efforts and reach out to their target audience through a local channel with locally relevant marketing campaigns to drive interest around the event, as well as increase visibility for their brands.

Figure 3: Most popular websites in Sports - Motorsport









Source: Experian Hitwise Singapore (September 2010)

 The interests of Singaporeans around Formula 1 also seems to be heavily influenced by the other F1 races happening around the world, evidenced by a 5% increase in upstream searches on Google between the weeks ending 21 August and 28 August, the latter timeframe being the Formula 1 race weekend in Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps, a popular track among F1 fans.

“When planning competitive online marketing strategies, F1 marketers need to be aware of both local and overseas trends that influence the search patterns of Singapore’s Internet users,” said Graeme.  “In order to successfully leverage the online medium as a channel to increase sales and gain visibility with their target audience, marketers need to recognize the importance of leveraging existing customer data and tracking industry trends that influence their brands, to gain and maintain a strong online presence.”

Search and social networks take the lion’s share in Singapore

In the weeks leading up to the F1 event in Singapore, search engines and social networks maintained their popularity among Singapore Internet users, with Google Singapore driving the bulk of upstream traffic to F1-related websites in the weeks ending 4 September (31%) and 11 September (35%).  Meanwhile, social networking sites like Facebook continued to drive almost 8% of downstream traffic over the same timeframe (See Figures 4 and 5).

Figure 4: Summary of Clickstream for Sports–Motorsport (Week ending 11 September)







Source: Experian Hitwise Singapore (September 2010)

 Figure 5: Summary of Clickstream for Sports – Motorsport (Week ending 4 September)

Source: Experian Hitwise Singapore (September 2010)

Given the visual nature of Formula 1, Singapore Internet users also seem to gravitate towards online video platforms like YouTube, with the global online video community being part of the top five downstream websites visited by Singaporeans in the weeks ending 4 September (5%) and 11 September (11%).

“When armed with the right tools that provide intelligent and actionable information, marketers are empowered to successfully engage and influence the right target audience who are most likely to become loyal and vocal brand evangelists in the future,” said Graeme.  “With capabilities to help businesses convert data into insights, Experian Hitwise can play a vital role in helping F1 marketers identify opportunities to strategically conduct effective marketing campaigns, and help them maintain visibility among their target audience in an increasingly competitive environment where other brands are also vying for similar attention.”