Want to search in Korea? Naver, known as the “Korean Google”, is the most active search engine in the country. As of May 2023, Naver has an average of 38.8 million monthly active users (MAUs). With the number of smartphone users at around 50 million, Naver presents a significant opportunity for marketers targeting the Korean audiences.
First established as a search platform, Naver has grown into Korea’s leading software giant. In this guide, we’ll explore Naver in detail, exploring its user preferences and providing insights into effective marketing strategies on this platform.
What is Naver?
Naver is an online platform and search engine operated by NAVER Corp. Founded in 1999, Naver has grown into a global technology company. Not only did Naver expand its business portfolio to include search, commerce, fintech, content, and cloud services, but the company also oversees various subsidiaries. Zepeto, SNOW, and Papago are just some sub-divisions that diversify Naver’s technological and digital offerings.
Who Uses Naver?
The vast majority (86%) of Naver’s users are based in Korea, followed by the US, Indonesia, and Japan. Naver has a significant mobile user base, with approximately three-quarters of its traffic originating from mobile devices and the rest from desktops.
According to SEMRush, about 20.1% of Naver’s traffic is referred from Google. What’s more, there is a common user behavior pattern of people going to Google from Naver.
What Do People Use Naver for?
Naver Search is much like Google. It provides a variety of search results on a single page, including news, maps, blogs, images, and more. Since Naver’s algorithm is built around the Korean language, Korean users prefer to go on Naver for relevant search results to them.
Naver Shopping and Coupang dominate the e-commerce market in Korea, accounting for approximately 65% of local online retail.
Naver Shopping’s appeal lies in its user-friendly interface and the seamless integration with Naver’s ecosystem. Customers can find products via Naver search and be directed to the shopping portal, checkout with Naver Pay, and communicate with sellers through Naver Talk.
Naver Plus members can enjoy a range of benefits, such as points back, free access to Naver TV, and the flexibility to share an account with family and friends. All these factors contribute to a more convenient and rewarding shopping experience.
Naver Pay is the most popular payment service in Korea. It offers a variety of financial solutions including payment, financial management, stock investments, and real estate services. Naver Pay supports transactions through debit cards, credit cards, QR codes, and online transfers, and users primarily use this application for its seamless payment capabilities.
Beyond transactions, Naver Pay offers a detailed overview of users’ financial portfolios, enabling them to monitor and manage their assets efficiently. For example, car owners can evaluate their vehicle’s market value, review owner ratings, and compare insurance coverage plus rates before making any purchase decisions.
Naver Map and Kakao Map are the primary map services used in Korea. Besides offering transportation information, Naver Map also helps promote offline businesses through its search functions, not only benefiting business owners but also guiding users to discover new places.
Naver Webtoon is a storytech platform that offers a range of comics, games, and animations, accessible in ten languages including Korean, Japanese, English, and Spanish. People are drawn to Naver Webtoon not only due to the easy scrolling format of webtoons, but also because of the wide selection of content the platform offers.
These webtoons are lighthearted and fun, providing readers with a refreshing break without the commitment required by longer books.
Naver Blog is a platform that enables users to record their daily life and thoughts. It supports multimedia content and offers a variety of customizable templates, allowing users to express their individuality through shared content.
On Naver Blog, users can explore a wide range of topics, making it a great resource to keep up with current trends and connect with like-minded people.
Like other social media platforms, Naver Blog is also a hub for influencers considered authorities in their respective fields. Due to Naver Blog’s broad reach and influence, many businesses have also leveraged this platform to promote their products or services by creating content or collaborating with popular bloggers.
Naver Café is a free online community platform that connects people with common interests. Everyone can participate in existing communities that align with their interests, and everyone can create a community.
Advertisers also take advantage of its social group feature to target specific Café communities to reach their desired customer base.
Naver BAND is a group communication app tailored for various social networking activities, ranging from sports events and work projects to school gatherings. It provides functions such as notifications, group schedule sharing, and photo and file archiving, to help people stay connected. During the COVID-19 pandemic when classes shifted online, Naver Band’s group challenge function was widely used, helping instructors to maintain attendance and schedules, while also enabling students to maintain communication.
NAVER Knowledge iN
Naver Knowledge iN is a Q&A knowledge platform where users look for helpful information and insightful answers. It was one of the first sites that leveraged user-generated content to enrich online resources, as users are encouraged to ask and answer questions across a wide range of topics.
What Do Users Like About Naver?
Naver’s Korean-centric approach that brings more tailored results is the primary reason why users prefer it. As Tamar Harrington notes on Quora, “Google is good for English-language searches, but Naver often gives people better-quality results in Korean. Look at Naver maps vs. Google maps for Korea. If you don’t want to get lost, better use Naver. Google has lots of missing information.”
Naver’s rich content community is another aspect that appeals to users. Jihye Park, Senior Marketing Manager at a mobile technology company, points out that, “the standout feature of Naver is its content. Korea is renowned for its webtoon content, much of which originates on the Naver platform, providing you with the opportunity to enjoy entertaining and abundant material.” Naver Webtoon actively seeks to enhance its offerings by acquiring prominent IPs and encouraging creators to publish their artistic stories, captivating readers with engaging narratives as well as building a community centered around shared interests in storytelling and creativity.
How Does Naver Generate Revenue?
According to Naver’s Q3 2023 Earnings Release, its search platform contributed the most revenue, followed by commerce, contents, fintech, and cloud and future R&D.
Naver’s search platform is comprised of search and display advertising, which are the main business areas for the company and are showing steady growth. Despite a challenging online ad market, search ads showed a 3.5% YoY increase, reflecting Naver’s ability to understand its users and provide customized search results.
Naver’s commerce sector has seen a substantial 41.3% YoY increase. This growth is largely due to its acquisition of Poshmark, a C2C platform in the US fashion market, and this integration is expected to drive Naver’s mid to long-term growth.
Additionally, the “NAVER Plus Membership” program has seen nearly a 30% increase YoY. It is reported that the members are not only more active on NAVER Shopping and NAVER Pay, but their transaction amounts also doubled that of the general users.
Lastly, its commerce ads also showed steady performance with a 0.7% QoQ and a 5.5% YoY increase in revenue growth, which is supported by automated ad slot optimization.
Naver’s content services, including Webtoon, SNOW, and ZEPETO, continue to attract global users with a 39.5% YoY increase. Webtoon is the primary revenue driver in this sector.
In 2021 and 2022, Naver completed the acquisition of multiple global IP platform companies, including the web novel platform Munpia, the social storytelling platform Wattpad, and Japan’s largest e-book operator eBOOK Japan. These acquisitions and continued IP adaptation all contribute to Webtoon’s continued growth, strengthening Webtoon’s global content portfolio.
Apart from that, SNOW, Naver’s camera-based AR platform, also contributes to Naver’s content revenue stream through its ad services, such as sponsor stickers, splash ads, and AI avatars, as well as subscription and paid services.
How to Market on Naver?
Marketing on Naver is simple, which makes it a great platform to get to work on. In this section, we’ll break down how to get started marketing on Naver by breaking down each potential ad option.
Naver has an abundance of Search Ad options, here’s the main ones you should know about:
Site Search Ads
Similar to other search engines, site search ads on Naver display text and links to advertisers’ sites. These ads appear not only on NAVER’s search engine results pages but also across platforms within Naver’s ecosystem and on the sites of Naver’s search engine partners.
Shopping Search Ads
Anyone planning to sell consumer goods should consider Shopping Search Ads. These ads are displayed on both the NAVER Shopping search result page and NAVER’s integrated search results. Marketers can easily initiate these ads by registering their products on Naver Shopping.
Content Search Ads
Content Search Ads are ideal for targeting consumers actively researching products or services. These ads will feature blogs and posts on Naver’s integrated search results page and in the VIEW section. Content Search Ads are primarily used to promote content from Naver Blog and Naver Café as a way for Naver to support bloggers.
Branded Search Ads
Branded search ads can effectively boost brand and product visibility on Naver. These ads will display brand-related information at the top of Naver’s integrated search results whenever users search for keywords closely associated with the brand.
Place ads are also known as “location-based search ads.” They are designed to promote business places to users searching for specific locations or business categories on Naver or Naver Map, and are usually effective for local businesses.
NAVER offers performance-based and guaranteed-type display ads to meet different marketing objectives. Performance-based display ads enable detailed targeting across the Naver ecosystem, and advertisers can monitor the ad performance with real-time bidding. These ads have seen steady growth in demand, expanding to services offered by Naver’s subsidiaries like BAND, Webtoon, and SNOW.
Guaranteed-type display ads allow advertisers to use diverse creatives and rich media to enhance brand awareness and credibility. These ads will be featured on dedicated Naver pages for a set period.
Market on Naver with Nativex
Navigating Naver for advertising in the Korean market can be challenging, but with the right support, it becomes a promising opportunity. This is where Nativex steps in, offering end-to-end support for brands and advertisers aiming to establish and grow their presence on Naver.
Our services range from setting up and preparing your Naver account for advertising to full-scale management and optimization. Nativex’s tailored solutions are crafted to effectively engage your target audience on Naver, ensuring that you meet your marketing objectives while exploring new avenues for growth. Partner with Nativex to unlock the full potential of your brand on Korea’s leading online platform.
Want to learn more about different social media app marketing in China? Take your pick from our “what is” series on LINE, Zhihu, Dianping, Xiaohongshu, and Weibo. You can also keep your eye on the blog for more updates as they happen.