Xiaomi Wants to Be More than Just a Smartphone Manufacturer

Xiaomi, sometimes referred to as the Apple of China, is known for its smartphone products. Like Apple, however, Xiaomi wants to be known for being more than just a hardware company.

Understandably so. In many countries, smartphones have gradually become a commodity. Smartphone users are simply happy with their current device and aren’t rushing to upgrade to the most recent model.

In fact, in spite of double-digital growth in some emerging markets, like India, global smartphone shipments fell by 1% year over year in 2017, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Xiaomi has already taken strides in establishing itself as more than a smartphone maker. The company has launched a range of software and internet services in its home market, including the Android-based MIUI operating system. And just last month, Xiaomi introduced its artificial intelligence (AI) voice assistant, Xiao AI, which comes pre-loaded on newer smartphone models.

The company has also shifted its focus to digital content, which makes sense given that consumers in China have shown an increasing appetite for paying for it.

eMarketer expects that there will be 432.9 million smartphone video viewers in China—excluding Hong Kong—this year, making up 31.3% of the population.

By the end of the forecast period in 2021, we expect that audience to reach 592.0 million.

Source: emarketer.com; 24 May 2018

Asia beats global standards for viewability, but fraud risk remains high in Singapore

Viewability across a number of Asian markets has surpassed the global average, according to a new report from Integral Ad Science.

Across South East Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, a digital impression was measured at roughly 59 per cent in view for one second, while the global average currently stands at 56 per cent.

Of these markets, Malaysia and Singapore saw the highest viewability with 68 and 64 per cent respectively. At the other end, Hong Kong trailed behind its neighbours with just 50 per cent.

Across all buy types, nearly one in four impressions was still in view after 15 seconds, the report added.

However, the data suggested ad fraud remains a significant concern for marketers, particularly in Singapore and Hong Kong.

According to the report, both markets had higher fraud risks, at 20.7 per cent and 14.0 per cent respectively, due to ad fraudsters tendency to follow where the digital spend goes and be more active in the advanced markets.

Meanwhile, non-optimised desktop display fraud rates across South East Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan was said to average 7.2 per cent, while the global figure stands at 8.7 per cent.

Brand safety risk was also highlighted for being “relatively low” in the region at 3.5 per cent, peaking in Indonesia where 9.1 per cent of display ad impressions were flagged for appearing on unsafe websites.

Following closely behind Indonesia for display brand safety risk was Thailand, where 8.6 per cent of ads were flagged as a risk to brand safety

IAS managing director Niall Hogan said: “This report shows the importance to advertisers, and buyers and sellers of digital media, of looking at SEA on a country level. Display brand safety over all is relatively low at 3.5 per cent across the region, but peaks in Indonesia at 9.1 per cent.

“Likewise, we see low levels of Fraud in most SEA markets, but it is high at 20.7 per cent in Singapore. This is most likely because fraudsters are chasing the higher CPMs that a market like Singapore commands. It is only by looking at their own data, in the different markets that they advertise in, that advertisers will be able to identify potential problems, and ultimate make changes that improve efficiencies and save them money.”

Source: mumbrella.asia; 26 Apr 2018

Holding large events in China: Lessons from the Victoria’s Secret Shanghai Fashion Show

The biggest mistake brands can make is to assume that event planning in China is the same as everywhere else in the world.

While the issues faced during the execution of Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Shanghai this year may seem outlandish to outsiders, these obstacles are everyday occurrences for PR companies and event planners in China, where red tape, mistrustful bureaucrats and inexplicable holdups are just part of doing business.

There is no doubt that the China market is an incredible opportunity and brands should not be scared off by its complexity. However, brands looking to hold large-scale events in China need to be prepared with the right mindset needed to navigate the complicated bureaucratic landscape of modern-day China. The biggest mistake they can make is to assume that they know best and that event planning in China is the same as everywhere else in the world. China is a unique place where even the best-laid plans will go awry.

Here are several things brands need to know before planning events in China:

1. Large-scale events will always be subject to government scrutiny

No matter whether you are China’s beloved Alibaba or an industry-leading international brand, the government will always be heavily involved in the event planning process.

For highly publicized—and risqué—events such as Victoria’s Secret fashion show, the government’s involvement will be more intense than usual. It was reported that the government was involved in every part of the event’s planning process from censoring clothing designs to requiring press releases to obtain government approval.

2. Follow the rules

In China, companies should be aware that there’s a lack of flexibility; the key to success is being able to follow the rules, as stringent or unreasonable as they may be. Keep in mind that the government does not need to explain or justify anything and rules and regulations can be changed unexpectedly without any warning. Furthermore, different cities and different districts within those cities will often have their own set of rules.

If rules have been set in place around timing, don’t expect local officials to be lenient, even if the event starts late. The Victoria’s Secret fashion show after party was abruptly shut down early at midnight even though staff had tried to persuade police officers to let it continue longer.

In China, there is often an inconsistency with whether or not the rules will be enforced which can lead to confusion, for example, some companies will find that while local officials turned a blind eye in previous years, the next year the same event is not allowed.

3. Be on the lookout for red flags

Obtaining visas for foreign talent can be a difficult hurdle for many brands. Originally scheduled to headline the show, singer Katy Perry was denied a visa for having once shown support for the Taiwanese freedom movement. Top model Gigi Hadid was also refused a visa after a video appeared online of culturally insensitive behaviour. Victoria’s Secret veteran Adriana Lima almost missed the show after her visa was held up by an unknown “diplomatic issue.” Four other models, Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva, and Irina Sharipova of Russia; and Dasha Khlystun of Ukraine were denied visas to travel to China.

Brands can do their best to avoid visa complications by reviewing celebrities’ past actions and searching for red flags that might draw government attention such as incidences with drugs, their political stances, involvement with fraudulent businesses, etc.

4. Media issues

Brands hoping to invite foreign press to cover an event in China need to be aware that journalist visas are closely monitored and may be difficult to obtain. Not only did Victoria’s Secret have models denied visas but many members of the press and industry influencers that they had invited to the event were denied visas as well.

Even if foreign journalists are able to obtain a visa, they are subject to strict content rules. Last year, the government released a seven chapter-long “Online Publishing Services Rules” document restricting foreign companies from publishing a wide range of content. At the fashion show, these rules were enforced and TV crews approved to film the event for broadcast were barred from shooting anywhere outside of the Mercedes-Benz Arena where the event was held.

Working with local media can cause headaches, too. In China, it is common practice to pay media for attending events. The minimum amount is typically between 300-500 RMB ($45-75 USD) per person and some companies will offer media even more.

Admission to the event needs to be tightly regulated especially if celebrities will be in attendance. In China, fans will often pose as a member of the press, even offering fake business cards and claiming that their colleague who was supposed to attend couldn’t come and they were taking their place.

Because seats at the fashion show were in such high demand, the invited press were asked to not post their credentials online to avoid someone forging fake ones. Press were told that if they were caught posting them, the Chinese government had threatened to shut the entire show down.

5. Choose the date carefully

Be aware of other events, especially government-related meetings and summits, occurring during the weeks surrounding your event. During this time local officials will be on edge and events will be more tightly controlled. There is even the chance that no events will be allowed during that time.

Keep an eye on local news for any sudden changes. A couple years ago when a massive explosion occurred in Tianjin, all events in the entertainment industry were postponed a couple of weeks. This was done not only to avoid appearing insensitive during a time of national mourning, but because media from state-run news agencies were forbidden from covering any entertainment related news in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

6. Relationships are important

Brands should take time to develop relationships with local officials prior to planning an event and ideally should avoid holding large-scale, high-profile events right off the bat. Start off small and slowly build trust.

For example, music festivals in China will often avoid bringing in international acts during the first few years, inviting only Chinese talent until the event is established enough to consider larger acts.

In many cases, if your brand has developed strong enough relationships, any bureaucratic issues that may arise during the planning process can be easily resolved.

7. Work with a local team

Victoria’s Secret is known for working with the same international team to run all of their events. While the members of their team are certainly experts at running fashion shows, holding an event in China is not the same as in the rest of the world.

As mentioned above, China is full of shifting regulations and idiosyncrasies. No matter how experienced their international team is, brands need the right local people involved from the beginning so as to avoid complications occurring in the first place.

Pulling off a successful event in China is not easy, but brands can avoid huge headaches if they know what to expect.

Source: Jing Daily/campaignasia.com; 4 Dec 2017