Adult smartphone addiction set to grow in China, says eMarketer

Accessing the Internet via smartphone is netting a growing share of the daily time adults in China spend on major media, according to eMarketer’s forecasts.

This trend is also reflected in Southeast Asia as well, with smartphones the go-to device for accessing the web.

Adults in China are projected to spend an average of 1 hour 38 minutes with their smartphones daily in 2017. This is mainly driven by the availability of cheaper smartphones, with capabilities similar to flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy and iPhone, which also drove smartphone adoption and deeper engagement with the devices.

“As attention continues to migrate from offline to online formats and from desktop to mobile devices, advertising dollars, too, will shift,” said Shelleen Shum, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

“Coupled with improvements in targeting and measurability, digital and mobile ad formats will continue to fare better than their counterparts in traditional media,” she added.

While TV might still be the dominant holder of attention in China for adults, the gap is closing. Estimates from eMarketer points to adults spending on average 2 hours 9 minutes with their smartphones daily, just 25 minutes shy of the average amount of time watching TV in 2019.

Traditional media has been losing ground on consumers’ attention for years in China, with eMarketer expecting digital to account for 54.2% of total daily media time this year. This overshadows media time spent with TV (40.6%), print (2.1%) and radio (3.1%).

“We expect online video platforms like iQiyi, Youku Tudou and Tencent Video to take viewership from traditional TV. Not only are millennials shifting toward online video, middle-age adults and seniors who are usually loyal TV viewers are also making the shift,” said Shum.

“This is thanks to the quality of original content produced by the various providers and the on-demand nature of these services, which is giving viewers control of how and when they watch content,” she added.

Radio is the only traditional media format not to see decline in time spent this year, according to eMarketer. Instead eMarketer forecasts a growth for this format, as a result of new government tax incentives for small engine vehicles, prompting an increase in car ownership, and as a result, more people tuning into the radio.

Whereas print will see reduction in time spent by adults, according to eMarketer, as adults increasingly look to online platforms for their news.