As the CEO of China-based ad measurement and analytic data technology platform AdMaster, Calvin Chan has a keen eye on trends in the rapidly expanding Chinese market where global and domestic brands compete for the attention of the countries massive consumer base.
Branding in Asia recently caught up with Chan to talk about what’s happening in China including problems with invalid traffic, the establishment of industry standards in the country, trends he sees in the market and more.
A study over the summer shows that that invalid traffic made up 28.8% of the total advertising traffic in China for H1. The numbers aren’t significantly different than the previous year. Tell us about where do you see them going next year?
We anticipate the overall IVT (invalid traffic) level to be on a slight decline trend, given GIVT (general invalid traffic) has now been widely adopted by leading publishers, e.g. OTV and streaming video and news apps.
Meanwhile, 2019 probably will be the year where publishers in Mainland China start to look into SIVT (sophisticated invalid traffic) more.
This is mainly due to the fact that the leading 3rd party measurement providers, including AdMaster, are going through the Media Rating Council accreditation for their GIVT and SIVT products.
Back in 2017, you said China needed an industry standard and a way to push everyone in the game to follow it. How are things progressing in that direction?
As mentioned above, given the ongoing efforts by China Advertising Association, Mobile Marketing Association China, the MRC & China Media Assessment Committee, as well as leading industry players, we have released a new mobile SDK for ad measurement & verification which covers IVT and Viewability in August 2018.
Brands are starting to evaluate their media spending against the sales conversion online and offline. In some cases where e-commerce’s proportion is not yet substantial, brands are also looking into store visitor brand health uplift.
CAA and MMA China just organized an official launch at the ROI Festival in Shanghai on Oct 17 and we expect advertisers and leading publishers to be testing and getting on board with this new standards in the coming year or two.
What are some of the more interesting marketing trends taking place in China that have caught your eye?
Firstly, definitely more content marketing VS paid advertising. Brands are investing more in social branding, IP marketing, such as Branded Entertainment, Celebrity, Cewebrity and KOL, and others.
Second, in this direct-to-consumer era, brands are certainly looking into measuring business impact, on top of the reach & frequency metrics only.
For instance, given the high e-Commerce penetration, brands are starting to evaluate their media spending against the sales conversion online and offline. In some cases where e-commerce’s proportion is not yet substantial, brands are also looking into store visitor brand health uplift.
Media consumption is more fragmented than ever, plus consumers are increasingly looking for brands who they can connect with, instead of going with the “mainstreet choices
Last but not least, AI-enabled marketing automation is also coming. Automated media planning & buying, dynamic creatives, and even smart Social CRM are key areas where we see AI technology being applied.
The massive market in China spans a wide demographic. What are some of the challenges brands face resonating with consumers and how are they addressing those challenges?
The fundamental difference, the “revolution”, is that brands no longer can rely on a “mass communication” approach. Media consumption is more fragmented than ever, plus consumers are increasingly looking for brands who they can connect with, instead of going with the “mainstreet choices”.
We are seeing some brands who embraced the transformation, and they are leveraging data technologies to help them make better decisions, such as identifying white space for new products by using big data analytics instead of small sample-based consumer research or in-house R&D only.
Brands are also investing in new platforms, such as Douyin (a leading short-video platform) to engage with consumers better.
What advice do you have to brands looking to get the most bang for their buck from their ad spend in China?
First of all, AdMaster believes in “every dollar need to be measured and be accounted for.” Brands need to be able to measure the reach & frequency and all the way through the conversion funnel for their media investment.
That also includes areas beyond paid advertising, such as social media platforms Sina Weibo, WeChat, Little Red Book and others, KOL marketing and branded entertainment.