With the digital landscape in China developing at lightning speed, many overseas advertisers have concerns about brand safety, fraudulent traffic and viewability. China’s unique digital environment presents challenges that have often led to misconceptions for marketers preparing to spend advertising dollars, creating a need for the local marketers to provide transparency by establishing local standards.
Many in the industry see local standards as being of vital importance in measuring digital marketing success in China. Currently, advertisers rely heavily on the Media Rating Council (MRC) and iAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), which often provides the digital media industry with standard audience measurement guidelines used in the U.S. However, their baseline metrics for measuring digital advertising are simply not suitable for such a highly fragmented and complex digital landscape as China’s.
Recently, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) China announced the establishment of its Brand Safety & Viewability Standard Group, under the association’s Mobile Ad Standard & Measurement Committee, and appointed Adbug as Group Leader. The group aims to increase brand protection by reinforcing brand safety and fighting fraudulent traffic. More than 30 confirmed members are taking part in the discussion, made up of companies from across the mobile marketing spectrum, including representatives of major advertisers, publishers, trading desks and agencies. iClick Interactive is the only representative from the online marketing technology space, offering valuable opinions and contributing support towards the development of these standards.
“We are very excited to be part of this project, which we hope will ultimately help to provide greater clarity and strengthen the digital advertising ecosystem in China,” said Tang Jian, the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of iClick Interactive. “With our global market presence, we often hear concerns directly from overseas advertisers. By being involved in this discussion, we hope to be able to institute measures aimed at addressing these concerns, based on our experience and insight.”
This week, MMA China announced the release of its first three standards in China:
1. Brand Safety Verification Guidelines for Mobile Ads;
2. Viewable Impression Measurement Guidelines for Mobile Ads; and
3. Invalid Traffic Verification Guidelines for Mobile Ads.
This announcement is a significant milestone in the evolution of the industry in China. By releasing its first standard guidelines, the association has provided a set of recommended practices for digital measurers to better address the risks that exist in today’s digital media environment in China. The release will also improve the overall health of the measurement ecosystem and is a major step towards reducing the associated risks and costs. As brand safety and viewability have always been the main concerns for overseas advertisers, these standards are also intended to provide more localized and specific guidance for digital mobile ad measurement, so that overseas advertisers can shift to mobile more comfortably and effectively.
The Top Challenges Facing Overseas Advertisers in China
With its global market presence, iClick Interactive understands that advertisers are not always convinced by online advertising measurement standards in China – a unique market with a highly complex digital and programmatic landscape. There is often a lack of transparency, and little third-party data is available, making it hard for overseas advertisers to trust measurement information. With data quality currently lacking, greater transparency is needed.
2. Data availability
Within China, local Internet players hold more than just a home-team advantage. Foreign global giants – namely, Google, Facebook and YouTube – are all fully blocked under China’s censorship policy. Instead, their places are taken by local players such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, who are all dominant in the China market. Overseas advertisers often struggle with the data provided. There is a lack of third-party data, while legal limitations on the freedom of information exchange in China result in a lack of transparency. Almost all the data from the Internet is controlled by BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) creating a significant challenge for overseas marketers trying to gauge the effectiveness of their digital campaigns and faced with a lack of strong third-party verification or monitoring services.
3. Brand Safety
This challenge is a simple one: overseas advertisers often express major concerns about how their messages are delivered to consumers in China’s highly fragmented digital landscape. This fragmentation presents a tremendous challenge in an environment where billions of impressions are served across millions of pages, both programmatically and directly, to myriad devices and screens, and are seen by countless users. It is crucial for brands to be assured that their messages are not served against any content that may have an adverse effect on their respected brand names.
Maintaining Trust for Overseas Advertisers
As a leader in online marketing technology, iClick Interactive strives to provide our advertisers with solutions that are transparent, secure, and in accordance with their values.
With the mobile space in China attracting greater marketing spend, the release of the standards will provide overseas advertisers with the opportunity to refine their efficiencies in the digital space, as well as giving them more comprehensive protections. We understand that for many overseas advertisers, entering the Chinese market is a difficult and complex process. China’s highly complex digital environment and the astonishing number of online users make collecting and analyzing audience data extremely difficult. iClick Interactive believes that our proprietary marketing technology platform, which collects a plethora of data from multiple sources, allows us to understand Chinese online users in a multi-dimensional manner, and makes scalable data intelligence possible. The importance of a data-driven approach to audience targeting and insights is key to success in the China market.
Furthermore, iClick Interactive has been collaborating with different industry leaders to actively tackle brand safety, not just in China but also in our overseas markets. Our partnership with Adbug, started in 2014, has led to the creation of big data analytic algorithms that measure brand-sensitive messages and, through machine learning, enhance context recognition capabilities. With this in mind, today we are also enhancing our capabilities with the integration of other trusted third-party technology providers such as Moat, IAS, and Sizmek, to offer maximum brand safety for our overseas advertisers.
Overseas advertisers must be open to working with partners in the ad tech ecosystem to achieve their goals. Marketers must be ROI-driven and use analytics platforms to empower a higher-level understanding of their data. In digital, everything can be measured and the importance of measurement should not be overlooked. Our focus is to ensure that we can do the best for marketers.
Kelly Leung, VP of Agency Business, iClick Interactive Asia Limited.