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China’s Q1 mobile ad spend grows 90% over 2016: Smaato

China saw its first quarter ad spending on mobile nearly double and grow by 90 per cent since the same quarter last year, according to the Global Trends in Mobile Advertising report by Smaato. The country was also the strongest Top 10 market performer and its ad spending growth was also more than twice that of the next fastest-growing Top 10 market, Australia (+37 per cent).

The mobile ad space showed healthy overall growth in Q1 (+49 per cent) versus the same quarter last year. This increase was driven primarily by the APAC region (+139 per cent); however, EMEA and the Americas also posted steady growth this quarter, with eCPMs increasing +28 per cent in EMEA and +22 per cent in the Americas versus Q1 2016.

One of the growth drivers for APAC in this quarter was the Chinese/Lunar New Year which fell on January 28. Celebrated by more than 20 per cent of the world’s population, countries in the region that celebrate the holiday experienced 18 per cent higher ad revenue on average than neighboring non-celebrating countries. The number of unique devices on the Smaato platform from celebrating countries also spiked on January 28.

The report also found that in-app ad spending continues to eat mobile web and now owns 91 per cent of all global ad spending on the Smaato platform, which represents a 41 per cent overall increase since Q1 2016. In-app eCPMs have also increased 54 per cent in Q1 year-over-year.


“The data across our global platform indicate that advertisers are catching on to how consumers increasingly spend their time in apps. When advertisers understand the value of the long-term tracking capabilities of in-app advertising, combined with rich audience data, we expect to see the eCPMs of in-app advertising to increase by 50 to 100 per cent until 2019,” said Ragnar Kruse, co-founder and CEO of Smaato.

The data shows that mobile ‘prime time’ differs from country to country. In the US and the UK, mobile ad views and spending peak on weekdays from 7-11 p.m. and 3-9 p.m., respectively. However, in Japan, ‘prime time’ on weekdays is much later, occurring between 7 p.m.-1 a.m. In China, mobile usage is consistent throughout the day.

During weekdays, Japan sees a peak in ad spending and viewership late into the night until 1am. This could be because of Japan’s long working hours with over 20 per cent of employees in Japan working over 50 hours per week.

In China, there is a distinct before-work/-school, lunchtime and after-school/-work ad view pattern not seen in the other top markets.

Category-wise, music apps were the leader for total ad spending share (16 per cent vs 10 per cent for the next highest category). The weather app category had the highest eCPMs — more than 2.5x higher than any other category. The report also highlighted that from summer in South Korea to autumn in Australia, changes in weather patterns and types drove significant variation in peak weather app usage over the course of a year.

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.