AdMaster & Advertisers: Digital Marketing Highlights in 2017


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According to the latest mobile survey from AdMaster in December, China’s leading marketing data technology firm, advertisers in China said they plan to increase their digital marketing expenditure by 17% on average, while 59% of the respondents said they would increase their spending by more than 10%, even though China’s GDP growth in 2017 might be the lowest in the last 27 years.

All respondents will definitely spend their marketing dollars on mobile devices while 87% of advertisers expect to increase their investment. For PC devices, in which video ad impressions have been overtaken by mobile devices since 2015 Q4 (according to all campaigns monitored by AdMaster), only 12% of the advertisers will increase their spending in 2017 while 55% will decrease their spending on PCs. For the up-and-coming Connected TV (CTV), advertisers are holding polarized perspectives. 45% of them will increase their spending on CTV while 30% of them who have not planned on investing on these connected devices yet.

Advertisers know the winning characteristics of different devices. On mobile, advertisers show preferences on social networking Apps, followed by video Apps and then mobile search. On PC, these three types of publishers are still the top favorites of the advertisers, but just in a different order: video is the most preferred, followed by search engines and social networking sites.

Content is king: Nearly half of the advertisers said they would invest in an internet celebrity and key opinion leaders (49%) on both WeChat and Sina Weibo, followed by investing for opportunities for user-generated content on social media (48%). Working with celebrities, stars and hosts of live streaming platforms would also be considered by advertisers (37%).

To many, 2016 was the year when China’s Big Data floodgates got opened. Advertisers definitely need to lean on technologies to get the best out these data collected in order to optimize marketing efficiency, effectiveness and precision. Among all marketing technologies, data management platforms are something that are being focused on by over half (55%) of the respondents.

AdMaster has been providing marketing data technology servicing over 80% of the leading brands in China for the past 10 years and has witnessed the development of the digital marketing industry. Here are 9 highlights AdMaster asks marketers, advertisers and digital marketing experts to pay attention to in 2017:

1.  In-Feed Video Ads

In-feed video ads are a special type of video ads, which is served to viewers according to their preference and behavioral tags on mobile platforms. It carries not only the standard advantages of video ads such as precise target reach with broad coverage and interaction, but also leverages on the uniqueness of mobile platforms like user stickiness, share-ability and accurate location-based coverage. In China, the in-feed video ads on platforms, e.g. Tencent and Sina Weibo have been warmly welcomed by advertisers because of the precision driven by massive social data. Currently, in-feed video ad format is widely supported by social platforms, news and lifestyle Apps.

2.  Connected TV

Compared to traditional linear TV, CTV enjoys better user interaction and is more ready for measurement given its return-path availability. According to AVC, 403 million of households own at least one connected device in China in 2016. It is predicted that its penetration rate will reach 72% by 2020. According to AdMaster advertising measurement data, the impressions generated by CTV have doubled year-on-year since the last quarter of 2015. CTV is a platform advertisers cannot ignore because (1) its higher ROI as compared with linear TV, (2) its ability to reach its target audience in terms of "people-based", not just "household-based", (3) the availability of anti-fraud ad measurement technology, (4) a platform carrying additional marketing communication potential, such as gaming, social networking and online shopping.

3.  Fan-based Economy Boom

Fan-based economy boomed in 2016. Consequently, more brands are starting to explore the right ways to establish one-on-one relationships with their fans. The key point to win out is to maximize content creation capability to attract fans persistently. Therefore leveraging the power of Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) and content marketing strategy to attract fans are two vital points in 2017 which can't be ignored.

One of the challenges for brands is how to evaluate the effectiveness of KOL scientifically and fully explore the features of KOL as well as creating the most natural and innovative content. Content is the hot button issue to attract a fan following. What's more, good content and relevant scenes further activate program sponsorships for brands. In 2016, more and more industries got involved in sponsorship such as auto, FMCG, cosmetics, Internet, 3C, etc. Whether a mature or young brand, these brands are shelling out huge amounts of money for these sponsorships. It can be predicted that in 2017 the "sponsorship battle" will get more severe and the need for content marketing evaluation will be stronger than ever.

4.  Single Consumer View

Single consumer view is an integrated, consistent and complete presentation of the target audience according to consumer behavioral data from multi-platforms. The omni-channel consumers generate their behavioral data via data that includes but is not limited to device usage, media touch points and shopping habits. Brands can identify the best and most appropriate touch points with their target audience in all contexts through this single consumer view. In research carried out in the U.S., 99% of the companies believe achieving a single consumer view is important. However, the more available consumer data is, the higher the chance that it is fragmented. We need to connect all the data particularly from online and offline platforms, media and shopping behavior.  Advanced technology eliminates the duplication of data and connects all the data silos to provide a single clear view of the consumers for brands.

5. People-based Marketing Solutions

Thanks to data technology, we can now get hold of the individual target audience’s characteristics and media behavior. Brands know their consumers by age, gender and touch point habits. A single view of consumers across different platforms and devices is available for brands, which facilitates accurate target reach with the right content. In 2016, an industry data hub was established. Third-party data platforms have opened up for connection and integration. These are the two drivers to make people-based marketing and marketing solutions more available. In 2017, people-based marketing solutions will create more commercial values because of the prosperity of the internet ecosystem, marketing measurement standardization and advancement of technologies in China.

6.  Brand Trading Desks (BTD)

Programmatic marketing is an accelerator for entering into the Marketing AI era. BTD is the integrated marketing trading platform for brands own programmatic advertising buying. It embraces Demand Side Platforms, Data Management Platforms, Search Engine Marketing, Adserving, Brand Safety and traditional buying practices. Brands can now manage and conduct their own one-stop advertising campaign buying by themselves through the intelligent system in a transparent and secure way. BTD is empowered by Programmatic Direct Buy Technology, which is a demonstration of the well-established technologies in marketing automation, data application, ad placement and measurement.

7. Integration of First & Third-Party Data Management

Advertisers have gone through the stages of ad impression evaluation and social marketing. Now we have arrived at “people-based” precision marketing. Brands have collected massive behavioral data of their own customers. The evolution of data technology strengthens the value of the data management platforms, which turns massive amount of raw data into smart data to create commercial value. In 2016, more third-party platforms, led by Tencent and Sina, were open and willing to share their data for the strong development of the marketing data ecosystem. In 2017, it is more critical to integrate their own first-party data with available third-party data so as to develop winning marketing strategies and programs.

8.  Marketing Automation

Marketing automation captured the CMO’s attention 3 years ago in the U.S.. Now in China, with the rise of programmatic buying, marketing automation has gained attention and narrowed China's gap with the U.S.. Massive data availability and integration empowered by technology, marketing automation should be adopted throughout advertisers’ marketing initiatives from planning, execution, measurement and evaluation. It drives efficiency and precision, thus enabling advertisers to achieve business goals faster and smarter. Marketing automation is a foundation to advance to the marketing AI age.

9.  Conversion…Conversion

Conversion is always the ultimate goal of marketers from awareness created by advertisement to purchase, which is also called the path to purchase. And technology shortens the path to purchase. Ad technology brings consumers from awareness directly to purchase decision. The digital pre-shopping experience is an important, preliminary stage in the path to purchase and was aptly named by Google as the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). In this digital age, a brand can be presented, reviewed and purchased within seconds. It is critical to leverage the power of digital technologies to engage with consumers in this ZMOT and convert to sales leads or directly link to purchase. Thanks to the latest marketing technology advancement together with the Big Data availability, attribution analysis, retargeting and sales lead generation become basic and indispensable in marketing campaigns. All these make conversion more frequent and obvious; and more wanted by marketers in every campaign.

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