Five Surprising Facts About China’s Internet Users

As China enters the Year of the Dog, the latest data from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows how the country’s digital landscape has changed over the past 12 months. Here are five surprising facts about digital usage in China.

No. 1: There Is Room for Much, Much More Growth

The number of internet users is growing quickly, but the market is nowhere close to saturated.

During 2017, China added 40.7 million new internet users, bringing the total to 772.0 million. That’s the largest single internet market in the world by far, but still represents just 55.8% of China’s population. So there is plenty of room to grow.

What’s stopping people from accessing the internet? Two obstacles cited by CNNIC are computer illiteracy and the inability to type in Pinyin (the romanized version of Chinese).

Emerging technologies like voice recognition could play an important role in bringing the internet to the rest of the population.

No. 2: It’s a Mobile Market

By the end of 2017, 752.7 million internet users in China accessed the web on their mobile devices, representing 97.5% of all internet users in the country. That compares with 95.1% a year prior.

Other access methods trailed far behind, the CNNIC data showed: For instance, barely half (53.0%) of all internet users went online via desktop. For laptops, the level was 35.8%. And for tablets, it was 27.1%.

No. 3: Rural and Unconnected

At 2017’s end, rural internet users made up 27.0% of all of internet users in China, the CNNIC found. However, 42.7% of the country’s population resides in the countryside, based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics China.

In effect, rural areas are China’s biggest untapped internet market.

No. 4: Internet Time Is Growing Rapidly

People in China are spending an unprecedented amount of time online. In 2017, average weekly time spent reached 27 hours, up about 36 minutes from a year ago—the fastest that measure has grown in three years.

Growth drivers are about what you might expect: video-on-demand (VOD), live streaming, social networks and online shopping.

No. 5: The Online/Offline Blur

In a country where mobile payments are far more common than in the US and other markets, online-to-offline (O2O) activity has soared.

Food ordering, ride hailing (taxi or private car) and travel purchases all saw rapid growth. The latest CNNIC data showed that 44.5% of China’s internet users ordered food online in 2017, an increase of 64.6% vs. 2016.

Source: emarketer.com; 26 Feb 2018

F1 makes biggest ever investment in digital as it looks to serve fans better

F1’s marketing boss admits it hasn’t served fans as well as it could have in the past, but hopes a new TV app will bring them closer to the brand.

Formula One is making its biggest investment in digital to date with the launch of an over-the-top live subscription service, as it looks to change brand perceptions and serve its fans better.

F1 TV will launch across 40 markets – including Germany, France and the USA but not in the UK – next month, in time for the upcoming Formula One season. It will allow fans to watch ad-free live streams of each race, while on-board cameras will show live content from the driver’s point of view.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday (27 February), Formula One’s marketing director, Ellie Norman, said 2018 is about “launching the brand” – and F1 TV will play a pivotal role in opening up the business to new digital opportunities.

“Previously, we definitely had a logo but we didn’t have an identity,” Norman said. “What we did have was a series of perceptions that we are working hard to change.”

Norman, who joined Formula One last August, said her main focus this year is building Formula One an identity with fans “at the heart”.

“For us this is a real step-change from the sport as it was in the past, which fans definitely felt wasn’t there to serve them,” Norman said.

“Every decision we are making is about how it serves the fan, so if it doesn’t serve the fan, it doesn’t serve Formula One.”

The app will launch without any advertising, but Norman said Formula One is open to conversations “if there is a relevance there” to improve the customer experience.

Alongside F1 TV, Norman said ‘fan festivals’ will also be key to bringing people closer to the sport.

Following a successful launch in London last summer, another four events are lined up this year in Shanghai, Marseilles, Berlin and Miami.

“It’s an opportunity for us to take some of those core elements of Formula One but to take them into city centres; to an audience that has never engaged with, or been to a Formula One race before,” Norman explained. “The ambition is to increase that number to 15 in 2019.”

Source: marketingweek.com; 28 Feb 2018

Why the GDPR Is Actually a Good Thing for Brands

Putting an end to data gossip

In less than four months, the European Union data regulator will begin enforcing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to strengthen the security and protection of EU residents’ personal data. Companies that don’t comply with the GDPR not only risk losing their customers’ trust, but they could also face fines of €20 million or 4 percent of global annual revenue.

Like many regulations, the GDPR is not an easy to understand or practical manual for how brands should go about protecting their customers’ data. Therefore, figuring out how to interpret it and making changes across your organization to adhere to the regulation will be an expensive undertaking on its own. The IAPP and EY predict that Fortune’s Global 500 companies will spend a combined $7.8 billion working to achieve GDPR compliance.

With more questions than answers, I’ve found that the complexities and costs associated with the GDPR tend to overshadow the many benefits for businesses across the globe.

Here’s why I think the GDPR is a good thing for brands:

It will cut the ‘data gossip’

Consumers expect the brands they buy from to adhere to strict standards around protecting personal data. They also expect brands to obtain consent for collecting their data in the first place. According to a recent study from Accenture, “87 percent of consumers believe it is important for companies to safeguard the privacy of their information.”

The GDPR will promote responsible use of data that aligns the law with customer expectations. Specifically, the GDPR requires that businesses be more transparent about how they collect and use data. This means the standard for valid consent will be far higher, and it will be difficult to rely on third-party consent.

As a consequence, marketing departments will likely need to reduce their reliance on third-party data. Third-party data is user or behavioural information that companies purchase rather than collect themselves. It is often aggregated from multiple websites and segmented based on user interests, demographics, shopping behaviours and more.

This data is often collected with questionable consent and shared across companies without explicit consumer permission. That’s why I call the act of companies sharing third-party data with each other “data gossip.”

If you’ve ever received an email promotion from a company you never shared your email address with, you’ve experienced data gossip. Your customers wouldn’t tolerate their grocer telling their banker what they just purchased, and data gossip is no different. Moving away from third-party data will improve customer trust, which in turn will boost your brand’s reputation.

Brands will have to personalize without compromising trust

Reducing third-party data usage doesn’t come without its challenges, however. Third-party data is often used to personalize customer experiences, and customers increasingly expect this. The Accenture study mentioned above found that “58 percent of consumers would switch half or more of their spending to a provider that excels at personalizing experiences without compromising trust.”

Many companies purchase third-party data to personalize their websites or show ads to a specific audience based on previous behaviour. The problem for these companies is the last part: “without compromising trust.”

How can your company deliver on respectful, private and personalized experiences? The answer is by activating your own first-party data. First-party data is data on how your customers use your products or services. This includes information on which products a customer views or purchases from you, how often they visit your website or mobile app and even your CRM data.

First-party data is valuable for showing customers that you’re attentive to their needs, showcasing products that fit their interests, or removing irrelevant content. It also has many advantages over third-party data.

First-party data is not usually shared with other brands, which is beneficial for both your customers and your business. It’s typically more accurate than third-party data, as well, because it reflects actual customer behaviour from your own channels (web, mobile, in-store, etc.).

Companies must ensure they always use first-party data in line with the principles of the GDPR: transparency, accuracy, fairness, minimization, purpose limitation and security. I believe the GDPR will accelerate trends leading away from third-party data and toward the ethical use of first-party data to deliver helpful, respectful customer experiences.

As a result, I think the GDPR is good for brands—even with its complexities.

Peter Reinhardt is an aerospace engineer turned CEO and co-founder of Segment, a customer data platform.

Source: adweek.com; 22 Feb 2018

Amazon plots digital ad push with ad tech launch

The ecommerce giant is bringing new ad tech tools for publishers to Europe as it ramps up attempts to take on Google and Facebook in the digital ad market.

Amazon is pushing further into the digital ad market as it brings new ad tech tools to Europe aimed at helping publishers make more money online.

Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace, which went live in the US a little over a year ago, is now launching in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. It offers digital publishers and app developers a new means to monetise their content using header bidding (a technology that allows multiple ad buyers to bid on ad space at the same time, meaning the highest bid should always win).

What differentiates this product is that it is cloud-based, meaning the bidding takes place on Amazon’s servers rather than on the publisher’s website. That in turn means publishers don’t have to input lots of codes from different ad buyers into their website, speeding up page load times.

Amazon also claims the product will offer greater transparency, enabling publishers to see which companies are bidding and which one won the auction.

“When we started offering header bidding several years ago, we quickly saw there were clear publisher, advertiser and customer benefits in moving ad calls to the cloud and giving publishers full visibility into who’s bidding on their impressions, who’s winning, and why,” explains Matt Battles, vice president of ad technology at Amazon.

The launch is just the latest sign that Amazon is looking to make a bigger move into the ad space. Emarketer estimates that, in the US, Amazon is the fifth largest generator of digital revenues with sales of $1.65bn in 2017 – more than Twitter and Snapchat. That figure is expected to rise to $3.19bn in 2019.

It is also the fastest growing player – with increases of 48.2% in 2017. But it will account for just 3% of the total US market in 2019, well behind Google and Facebook.

That Amazon would want to become a bigger player in digital advertising should come as little surprise given that it was a $209bn business globally last year, according to Magna Global. And Amazon has both the scale and data that means it could compete with the two biggest players.

However, Amazon has so far been reluctant to discuss its ambitions. Nevertheless, it is rapidly hiring sales people for the ad unit as its New York office, with the latest launch a clear sign it is hoping to attract publishers as well.

And brands including Procter & Gamble and Unilever are increasingly working with the company. For example, P&G says it has teamed up with the ecommerce giant to make use of its consumer ID data to reach consumers who are ready to buy. And that is the key to Amazon’s pitch to advertisers – its data on what people buy.

Source: marketingweek.com; 9 Jan 2018

89% Indian car purchases digitally influenced: Google & Kantar TNS Study

India is going digital but the speed at which the transformation is underway in the automobile market is taking industry and marketers by surprise. A new study, whose findings were revealed today, indicates that more and more people are taking a digital approach to decide on their new set of wheels. Nevertheless, the claimed percentage of digitally influenced buyers seems to be on the very high side.

A research report by Google India along with Kantar TNS claims that in 2017, 89 percent of car purchases in India were digitally influenced compared to 75 percent in 2016.

The survey was carried out across 27 markets covering over 500 respondents in each market, with a total of 13,828 respondents. The survey was carried out both offline and online, with an estimated average survey length of 15 minutes.

The report titled ‘The Drive to Decide’ states that potential buyers exhibited three key digital behaviour patterns – 96 percent of them searched online, 80 percent watched online videos and 88 percent of them preferred to research on their smartphones.

Vikas Agnihotri, Industry Director, Google India said, “Online video has emerged as the biggest disrupter for the four-wheeler industry in India. YouTube has over 225 million Indian smartphone users watching online video every month, auto content itself has witnessed an astounding 225 percent year-on-year viewership growth. From an advertiser perspective, what makes this trend even more relevant is that car manufacturers can now measure the exact impact that online is having on offline sales, and we believe that is a real game-changer.”

In the last two years, the report states that around 2.5x growth was seen in consumers who took only two months to buy a four-wheeler. Concurrently, dealer visits by the consumers saw a decline of almost 50 percent in the last three years. Finally, two-thirds of digitally influenced buyers searched and discovered dealers online. The research report sees all this translating into shorter and more efficient buying cycles.

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As per the report, online video (depicted above) is fast becoming a preferred information source that allows buyers to explore a new car from different perspectives. The percentage of online video usage in the process of buying a car in 2017 has nearly doubled from 43 percent in 2016 to 80 percent in 2017.

Safety first
Breaking up the types of videos consumers are watching – 41 percent were on vehicle safety tests; 41 percent on technology and features of the car; 38 percent on performance and 33 percent of them are customer reviews. Furthermore, the report highlights that 79 percent of consumers who view online videos are expected to act upon, underscoring the important role of online video in the decision-making process.

Speaking about the challenges for the marketing team faces today and some future trends, Gabri Herrmann, Kantar TNS said, “The modern auto shopper walks into the dealership armed with a staggering array of information. Delivering on research needs and inspiring the consumer is critical. Brands that succeed in this will win the sale.”

Source: autocarpro.in; 13 Dec 2017

Don’t put all your money in digital to reach affluent Asians: Ipsos

Affluent Asian consumers have yet to fully embrace digital media, according to an Ipsos study.

Affluent Asian consumers are not disengaged from advertising, and digital aficionados who shun TV and print are not necessarily the biggest spenders among the well-heeled group. These are some of the consumer insights into affluent Asian consumers highlighted in the latest Ipsos’ Affluent Asia survey.

Zeroing on media-consumption findings from Q2 2017, the study reveals that 42.2% access only traditional media, compared to 37.5% for a combination of traditional and digital, while only 2% access only digital media. Likewise, data on respondents from the markets studied (which excludes China) between Q3 2016 to Q2 2017 shows that total TV and print reach are enhanced by digital. The overall study this year was based on 24,250 samples from 11 markets in APAC.

News consumption habits of affluent Asian consumers (excluding China).

Along the same lines, the study reveals that consumers who consume a combination of traditional and digital media are likely to be bigger spenders. They own three or more financial and upscale household products and have taken business or first-class flights, for example. The study notes that the affluent cohort accounts for the top 20% by income of the APAC population and further points out that not all ad spend should be invested on digital.

In comparison, Chinese affluent consumers are more inclined toward consuming media via digital devices, even though a higher percentage are still watching entertainment content on TV compared to news and documentaries. Therefore, a cross-platform strategy is especially important for reaching Chinese consumers.

Cross-platform consumption of Chinese consumers.

Source: campaignasia.com; 24 Nov 2017

The Future of Digital Media: More Video, Smaller Screens (Report)

Internet users consume more video than ever on an average of two or more devices.

Digital content marketing has grown increasingly complicated, a result of more dynamic audiences and a general shift toward video as a primary focus. A report from content marketing and distribution agency Valnet examines what’s coming for content marketing and content in general in 2017.

It’s not enough to just create content for the web anymore. With the proliferation of devices, content needs to be both mobile-focused and platform-agnostic to meet the needs of a diverse audience. 88 percent of consumers surveyed by Valnet report reading and viewing content on multiple devices and use on average 2.42 devices simultaneously.

Indeed, multiple devices has become an integral part of how people consume content. What’s more, video consumption is higher than ever, but screens are getting smaller and smaller, which creates a strange dichotomy for video streaming services. 51 percent of all video is now viewed on mobile, and 50 percent of U.S. households used streaming services for the first time during 2016.

Speed is vital for maintaining the attention of viewers, for whom switching between service and device has become second nature. Another defining result of this behaviour is the creation of niche networks and services. Content suggestion methods and algorithms have created siloed audiences, and audiences have responded positively to these changes.

For more insights on the impact of virtual reality and information on the proliferation of niche audiences, download the report.

Source: valnetinc.com / adweek.com; 4 Jan 2017

5 Factors of Video Viewability

Online video advertising is growing rapidly each year, and as adoption and demand increases, there’s a lot of interest in understanding video ad viewability benchmarks, for YouTube in particular. The good news is that video ads on YouTube are significantly more likely to be seen than video ads on the rest of the web. The infographic below will review 5 factors of video viewability.

Source: Insights by Google Malaysia; 12 May 2015

5 factors of video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to view infographic

New Technologies Can Help Brands Bring Storymaking to Life

Four Technologies That Are Powering Storymaking
The shift from storytelling to storymaking is well under way.

Storymaking – how marketers can tap into stories people are sharing with each other, as opposed to the broadcast approach of storytelling.

Storymaking isn’t a tactic in its own right, but various technologies can bring it to life. Here are four technologies that are powering storymaking and how brands can use them:

1. Video streaming: Mobile video streaming has been around for years, which is why the keen interest in Meerkat and then Periscope took many by surprise (myself included). The magic of both of these apps is the social integration. While streaming technologies can be used for broadcast purposes (it’s common enough to see people using them to stream TV shows), it’s a far more interesting experience when the person or brand doing the streaming starts responding to the audience, and even changing the flow of the footage.

That’s when a Periscope stream, for example, shifts from being yet another video to a personalized and memorable experience. It can even add a modicum of suspense, where no one can predict exactly what will happen — even the video producer. The audience then becomes part of the story, and viewers can make it their own.

2. Wearables: Wearable devices are ripe for storymaking. After all, data is generated from people’s bodies — their heartbeat, their gait, their circadian rhythms, their brainwaves. Take two people running the same lap at the same pace — their physical activity data will show subtle differences. Even when biological data isn’t involved, these devices are personal, as they’re practically extensions of one’s body.

As more brands partner with, incubate, or acquire wearable technologies, those marketers will want to avoid storytelling as much as possible. It’s not how the brand’s technology makes someone live better; it’s about all the specific ways each individual’s life has improved. My Pebble smartwatch made sure I never missed my wife’s messages and calls in the weeks before our first child was born. Compare my story to any story the brand could tell you, and you decide which is more powerful.

3. Virtual reality: Immersive creative experiences such as those possible through Oculus Rift, Magic Leap and other technologies could be very controlled and rigid, or they could be totally different for each person every time. Even more straightforward approaches like touring a distant hotel property or getting backstage access at a concert could turn into stories that are co-created with participants.

The best way to think about the potential of virtual reality is to consider the difference between watching a video and playing a video game. Each time you play a game, you’re actively creating a new story. With virtual reality, the only way for the novelty not to wear off will be to incorporate elements of game play each time.

4. Messaging apps: Messaging apps typically deliver generic branded experiences that are the same for all users. On ESPN’s channel in Snapchat, the content is the same for everyone. But that’s rapidly changing. Several messaging apps allow marketers to offer branded stickers and other content that can lead to more customized experiences. For example, NBC News created a chat bot within the messaging app Kik so people can request stories on topics such as politics and technology.

These technologies alone don’t shift the focus to storymaking, but such apps and platforms are evolving quickly. The biggest opportunity for storymaking today is by appreciating how these apps are all about two-way communication. Let followers’ responses drive a lot of your marketing there and adapt to what they’re talking about.

The most successful uses of technology will make the technology itself invisible, and the storymaking itself may go unnoticed. Your audience will just appreciate that your messaging speaks to them in such a relevant way that it’s a springboard for creating their stories.

Source: adage.com; 09 April 2015