The Opportunities for Mobile Marketing and Mobile search in China

China has immense opportunities in mobile marketing and mobile search. A towline view of the numbers confirms that:

By July 2012 there were 1,046,510,000 mobile phones in China, not far short of its 1.3 billion citizens. By comparison, India has 913,486,112 out of a population of 1,210,193,422 and counting. Way behind is the United States with 327,577,529 mobile phones close to 17 million more than the population!

The importance of mobile marketing to Brands is self-evident.

Mobile Phone Subscriptions China, India and USA

china-mobile 2012-phone penetration numbers

Despite these impressive numbers, mobile marketing in China is not well utilized. According to Normandy Madden SVP at Thoughtful China, writing in AdAge, the reasons are many: download speeds in China can be erratic and pedestrian; the ad industry lacks experience on how to use mobile phones effectively and maintain the infrastructure needed for mobile-based marketing programmes; and third-party data tracking and analysis services don’t exist.

There is a huge demand within China for content. It leads the world in the number of Internet users with over 30% of the population- that is more than 420 million people. However, according to a McKinsey survey across 50 cities in China, India, and Malaysia, high hardware costs, inconsistent network quality, and limited access could restrict growth.

The main uses of digital in China are: instant messaging; gaming; social networking; and video streaming. However, without the download speed and coverage of network infrastructure, mobile content creation and usage will be severely inhibited.

As digital consumption is growing dramatically in China, at the expense of conventional media, the need for rapid infrastructural investment is needed. Consumers are increasingly influenced by recommendations from social networking and are frequently using the Internet for their purchasing decisions. For marketers, mobile marketing is an effective and efficient way to reach consumers, especially as conventional media inflation in China is around 20% per annum. It is clear that failure to develop and utilize mobile marketing will have a significant effect on the growth of Brands and the GDP of the country.

McKinsey forecast that the number of Internet users in China would double over the next five years with more than 70% using both PC’s and handheld devices. As hardware and access costs decline the opportunity to make money out of attractive and relevant content is high. McKinsey see three issues as especially important:

  • Innovators and entrepreneurs develop content and delivery models priced low enough to compete against pirated options.
  • Content and Web services providers need to foster growth of local and regional advertising markets to help defray the cost of content creation.
  • E-commerce platforms, including transaction systems that make purchases more convenient and trusted, must be developed.
Furthermore, consumer companies will need to reconsider their marketing and advertising strategies in the light of the shift away from traditional media. For Brand companies, at stake is a crucial competitive advantage in a part of the world that boasts a massive Internet population and an even greater mobile one.

So the challenges are to get mobile infrastructure in place and up to speed whilst developing the skills of marketers. These skills need to focus on understanding the needs of the consumer and to be able to monitor and analyse their Internet journey. The rewards for doing so are remarkable in both their size and scope. Those Brands that fail to meet these challenges will be dispatched, rapidly, to the trash icon.

Garry Titterton, CEO Intelligent Positioning Limited.