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In China, Time Spent on Mobile Internet Continues to Grow

eMarketer’s latest forecast estimates adults will spend more than 1.5 hours daily with smartphones

April 20, 2017 | Media Buying | Mobile

The mobile internet, accessed via smartphone, is capturing a growing share of daily time that adults in China spend on major media, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast.

In 2017, adults in China will spend an average of 1 hour 38 minutes with their smartphones. eMarketer has raised its previous estimates for time spent with smartphones by 7.4 minutes per day. This is largely due to the availability of cheaper smartphones with capabilities similar to flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone, which in turn has led to increased smartphone adoption and deeper engagement with the devices.

Average Time Spent per Day with Nonvoice Mobile Activities by Adults in China, by Device, 2017 (hrs:mins)

“As attention continues to migrate from offline to online formats and from desktop to mobile devices, advertising dollars, too, will shift,” said Shellen 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.”

Adults in China still spend less time on smartphones than they do with TV—but that gap is closing. eMarketer estimates that by 2019, adults will spend an average of 2 hours 9 minutes with their smartphones per day, just 25 minutes less than the average amount of time spent watching TV.

Traditional media overall has been losing its grip on consumers’ attention for several years in China. eMarketer expects digital will account for more than half (54.2%) of total daily media time this year. In comparison, 40.6% of media time will be spent with TV, 2.1% with print and 3.1% with radio.

Shum noted that TV will continue to suffer losses at the hands of digital video in China. “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,” she said. “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.”

Radio is the only traditional media format that will not see a decline in time spent this year. In addition, eMarketer has upgraded its growth estimates for the format. That change is the result of a new government tax incentive for small engine vehicles which prompted an increase in car ownership—which, in turn, led to more people turning on their radios.

In contrast, eMarketer reduced estimates for time spent on print media like newspapers, as adults increasingly get their news from online platforms.

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