Search Marketing Guide to Naver, Korea's Most Popular Search Engine

If you're considering search advertising in Korea, Naver is not to be ignored. This 12-year-old Korean search engine and portal dominates the pocketbooks of advertisers, having taken in a whopping $679 million in ad sales in 2010, or 72 percent of the total search ad budgets in the country.

What is Naver?

Naver, owned by NHN (Next Human Network), is based just outside of Seoul, Korea. The name "Naver" derives from the word "navigate," which is fitting considering Naver's main objective is to navigate visitors to find what they are looking for.

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Nothing is more impressive than Naver's incredible, long-standing market share in one of the most important and wired economies in Asia.

One-third of the Korean population visits Naver.com every day, according to Koreanclick. More than 130 million daily queries are conducted daily on the search engine.

Besides being part portal and part search engine (se.naver.com), Naver has some interesting features. For example:

  • me.naver.com allows for complete personalization of your experience.
  • jr.naver.com is a search engine/portal for kids
  • me2day is an online micro blogging portal.
  • hangame.com is their hugely successful game site.

I recently spoke with Naver's Kyle Choi, SEM Manager and Ted Kim, Marketing Manager in their Irvine, Calif., office to talk search advertising and learn a bit more about what makes them different from other search engines we're used to advertising on.

Ad Types

Naver has a few different types of ads.

  • Click Choice Advertisement: Classic pay-per-click search ads, shown immediately below once a query is placed.

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  • Time Choice Advertisement: This type of ad allows you to pay one flat payment which will guarantee exposure for a contracted period of time without any change in rank. It's located under the Click Choice advertisement block.

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  • Brand Search Advertisement: This ad provides a brand with a mini microsite within the ad block itself and can take over the most important real estate of the search engine when the term and its corresponding keywords are used.

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Outside of the search engine result pages (SERPs), Naver provides advertising through their mobile network, as well as their own content network.

  • Mobile Page Advertisement: (m.naver.com) Providing advertising on mobile devices.
  • Content Network Advertisement: Similar to Google AdSense, Naver also has a strong partnership with other portals and relevant websites.

Getting Started

The "Naver Search Advertise Interface" is only offered in Korean. So you can either hire a Korean speaker or hire an agency with Korean resources. Alternatively, you can use Naver's own agency for a fee.

  • Business License: Naver is restrictive and they must see that you're a legitimate business. Be prepared to provide any required information, such as your business license. You neither need to have an office in Korea, nor do you need to have your business license translated.
  • Prepayment: You will need to arrange for payment for your media directly with Naver in Korea. Wiring your prepayment is most common, but sending a check to the US office is fine as well. Naver does allow for refunds of unspent media, should you cancel.

Naver Rules

Although, advertising on Korea's Naver seems difficult, it isn't impossible. You can still get great results if you know the rules:

  • Campaign Budgets: Advertisers can't set maximum daily budgets on each campaign in Naver, only on groups of keywords. NHN is aware of the problem and is working on an update.
  • Broad Match/Auto Correction Searches: Naver doesn't offer broad match or auto correct searches. But for misspelled keywords, Naver does offer a "Did you mean ... ?" system similar to Google's.
  • Keyword Approval: All keywords need to be inspected in order to see if the website is actually relevant with the keywords submitted. The more popular a keywords is, the stricter the inspection becomes.

Targeting the U.S. Korean Market

Naver will launch a U.S. version in July 2011 to reach its 2.5 million Korean Americans residents. The website will remain the same, however the audience will be local and targeted to the U.S. market.

My next article will explore how Naver's results are laid out, opportunities for optimization, and some tips to help you rank better.

About the author

Michael Bonfils is the International Managing Director of SEM International, a division of International Media Management Corp.

Since 1996, Michael was one of the early pioneers in the search engine industry, working in-house for a multinational firm prior to being in charge of Search Engine Strategy at Business.com in 2000-01.

In 2001, his International passion led him to opening up his own firm and an office in Asia after recognizing the need for U.S.-based online marketing agencies requiring an outsourced solution to provide services to their clients outside of the United States.

As the demand for his company's services expanded into other countries, he spread out further into Asia, Europe and eventually Latin America. Today, SEM International is a global network of in-country search engine marketing agencies providing a one stop, centralized solution for Intl search engine marketing management.