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China ups focus in mobile marketing investments

Mobile has found a place of prominence in the marketing ecosystem in China, that is already one of the largest digital markets globally. A number of surveys have highlighted how mobile is redefining China’s economy and the manner in which businesses function. A recent World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) survey reiterates some of this as it indicates that Chinese advertisers are investing heavily in mobile and a significant number have already integrated it into their overall marketing strategy.

A survey of 21 key Chinese advertisers spending RMB 25 bn (USD 5.7 bn) annually on communication conducted in conjunction with PHD Worldwide has found that 20 per cent would claim that mobile has been a key priority for some time and that the channel is well integrated into an overall marketing plan. A further 35 per cent claimed to have a strategic vision for mobile.

The results revealed that Chinese advertisers put significant investment behind their mobile efforts.
The approximate weighted average of mobile spend found that 11 per cent of interactive budgets in China were spent on mobile and a few Chinese respondents were spending up to 40 per cent of digital budgets on mobile.

These results contrast with a separate global survey conducted by the WFA involving 23 companies spending an estimated USD 39 bn annually, which found that just 4 per cent of respondents had successfully integrated mobile into their marketing plan, although 57 per cent said a strategic vision for the channel had been developed.
Global advertisers were also spending significantly less of their digital budgets on mobile, with the weighted average showing a 6 per cent share of digital budgets. No global advertiser was spending more than 20 per cent of digital spend on mobile.

The gap between the global picture and the Chinese market is likely to get bigger with all respondents in China reporting that they planned to increase their mobile spend in the next 12 months, 72 per cent said they planned to make a large increase. This contrasts with 54 per cent of global advertisers who had similar plans.

One thing that could explain the disparity between these two groups is that the way mobile is being utilised and the marketing aims that brands are seeking to achieve are very different.

In China the top use of mobile in the last year has been QR codes (84%), while the global community has focused on paid search and mobile display (both 88%).

Global respondents were also are more likely to invest in mobile video (used by 83% in the last year) and social media mobile advertising (79%) than their Chinese counterparts who are putting more emphasis on mobile social content or engagement (68%).

The biggest common challenge faced by both groups was the difficulty of measuring the impact of mobile and comparing it with other channels, which was mentioned by 67% in China and 50% globally.

“It is clear that marketers are recognising the potential of mobile. But we also see great complexity and the need to drive better measurement and transparency. We applaud the increasing energy with which industry bodies in China are addressing these issues,” said David Porter, Media Director North Asia, Unilever and WFA member.

Rahul Raj

Rahul is the Senior Correspondent for Digital Market Asia. He is a young journalist with a passion for photography.