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Conducting effective data-driven marketing in China

iClick Interactive


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April 25, 2017 | 7 min read

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A data-driven approach to marketing provides both speed and accuracy, and this is imperative when you are targeting China as the market is huge and the digital landscape is highly complex and fragmented.

iClick Interactive Asia

Conducting effective data-driven marketing in China

Consumers have developed higher expectations on marketing relevancy

Another reason for taking a data-driven approach is the importance of delivering relevant marketing messages to your target audiences. Consumers today have higher expectations on relevancy of the marketing messages they receive, and whether brands are serving them with a holistic, customized marketing experience. The appearance of ad blocking solutions is no doubt a result of irrelevant marketing messages.

With a higher degree of accuracy needed, it may not be surprising that marketers worldwide are increasingly adopting data in their marketing toolkit to address this. According to “The Global Review of Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising” paper released in Q1 2017, in which responses of 3,000 data-driven marketers and advertisers in 17 countries were evaluated, 63% of marketers reported that their spending on data-driven marketing and advertising grew over 2016 – with another 10 % (73% in total) expecting that budgets will rise further over 2017.

The extensive, yet highly fragmented time of an average Chinese Smartphone user

Let’s return our focus to China. According to CNNIC’s figures in December 2016, there were 731M Internet users in mainland China, of which over 95%, i.e. 695M were mobile phone users as well.

While Lab Brand’s study found an average Smartphone user in China spends 3.9 hours on Smartphones every day –these 3.9 hours are spent in a highly fragmented manner across multiple apps and mobile sites. According to iResearch, an average user would visit 40 websites every day, and switch between mobile apps every 100 seconds (!).

The pace that users jump around means that without a data-driven and programmatic approach, it is no easy task to reach them with the right message, on the right channel at the right moment.

Challenges of adopting data-driven marketing in China

So, what is the first step to successful data-driven marketing in China? It is obtaining quality data for your deployment. Without this it is impossible to make effective decisions. And this is where the challenges lie.

First of all, there is currently no regulation in China that necessitates third-party tracking for marketing campaigns, ecommerce and other online activities, and many of the data remain either non-transparent, or are held as proprietary by local publishers and ecommerce platforms. This creates fundamental obstacles for brands to looking further into the detailed profiles users who have just browsed your post on WeChat or the user who has just bought three lipsticks from your online store that sits on Tmall.

It is widely recognised that employing an effective data management platform (DMP) – though a pricey and resource-intensive investment – will ultimately pay dividends. It permits you to collect, store and manage data for further deployment in analytics, segmentation or decision-making and making you more effective. Yet in China, marketers might find it hard to gather and consolidate data under a single DMP compared to other markets. Many brands and corporations tend to engage multiple data partners in China, making it an arduous task for marketers to sort through the data collected, and leading to an incomplete or unreliable data set for further deployment. And even when it has been possible to collate the data from different sources, it could be expensive to clean and verify the data before they can be of valuable use.

Remedies are available

Notwithstanding the challenges mentioned, remedies are available for marketers tapping China. Below are a few pointers for fellow marketers’ consideration:

1. Have a good grasp of your own first-party data across online and offline.

  • Track closely from the moment the customer lands on your web pages and starts to navigate around. This important data of how consumers interact with your site, gain the information they need and make the purchase decision provides specifics about every customer. This can be complemented by data collected via your physical or offline stores if your brand has them in China.
  • Study metrics of each of your marketing campaigns run in China, such as the CTR, VTR, or lead generation rate for future marketing effort adjustments.
  • Monitor user interactions on your Chinese social media channels like WeChat, Qzone, QQ and Weibo as well to gain further insights into your target audiences’ sentiments towards your brand.

2. Employ a capable DMP and analytics team to make sense of your first-party data collected.

  • The quality of data is paramount. There is a lot of value in employing a capable DMP and analytics team to make sense of your first-party data, ensuring the validity of your activities and sense-check the decisions made based on the analysis of the data.

3. Find the right partner who truly delivers.

  • With your quality first-party data ready for deployment, it is time to pick the right partner who can run data-driven targeted solutions that are effective for tapping China. Only through this can you ensure that your marketing message will be delivered effectively and precisely to the right groups of people, in a brand-safe context.
  • The right partner should possess robust capabilities in data and technologies with strong local market expertise and connections to ensure that your message will be delivered to the right people programmatically on premium and high-quality media, hence enhancing the quality of the outreach as well as ad likeability and engagement.

At iClick Interactive we havea one-stop targeted marketing tool called iAccess, aiming to make data-driven marketing in China easier for agencies, marketers and DSPs alike. Supported by the 580M+ context-rich audience profiles of Internet users in China we’ve built from our data set of first-, second- and third-party data, the solution helps marketers reach their target audiences in China based on attributes that range from demographics, geographics, online patterns and behaviors, interest, purchase intent, lifestyle and more.

Understanding marketers’ concern in metrics accuracy, iAccess partners with independent third-party data firms such as Miaozhen and AdMaster to provide partners with high transparency into their campaign’s viewability and ad metrics.

Hope the above helps shed some light on the mystery of data-driven marketing in China.

Richard Johnson, Commercial Director, Europe, iClick Interactive Asia Limited.


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