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Mobile Advertising in China Grows Rapidly

Uncertain economic growth does not appear to be slowing down the mobile market

January 27, 2016

Last year marked a key tipping point for marketers in China, as mobile ad spending surpassed desktop spending for the first time. A new eMarketer report, “China Mobile Advertising: Heady Growth amid Economic Uncertainty,” explores the trends in the space.

Mobile Internet Ad Spending in China, 2014-2019 (billions, % of digital ad spending and % of total ad spending)

eMarketer estimates that outlays on mobile ads soared more than twofold in 2015 to reach $15.82 billion. Mobile made up 22.3% of total media ad spending in China—a higher level than in any other market worldwide.

The sharp increase in mobile ad spending in China came amid slowing economic growth and an alarming slump on the stock market. Still, eMarketer predicts total mobile ad spending in China will climb 58.0% this year, and annual growth will expand by at least 20% through 2019.

The increased spending on mobile is partly attributed to the continued growth of consumer spending in China, which accounted for 60% of GDP growth in H1 2015, according to a July 2015 Bloomberg article.

eMarketer's estimate for mobile ad spending in China is considerably higher than other sources. Our 2016 estimate of $24.99 billion is almost 20% higher than the next largest estimate of $21.06 billion from Analysys International. The gap is even wider when compared with estimates from CyberZ, iResearch Consulting Group and others.

Comparative Estimates: Mobile Ad Spending in China, 2016 (billions and % change)

eMarketer’s estimates are based on an analysis of all available data, including estimates from third-party sources such as Analysys. For ad spending estimates, we tend to give more weight to reported financial results of publicly traded companies. For mobile ad spending in China, therefore, we rely heavily on the revenue data reported by such major players as Baidu and Alibaba.

In that light, eMarketer's estimates might be seen as conservative, given that we assign roughly three-quarters of the total mobile ad market to just five players. However, it is worth noting that our most recent China estimates were completed in September 2015. The full impact of China's stock market downturn and its tumbling currency is difficult to assess. The recent economic temblors in China make it difficult to forecast mobile ad spending, but on balance the data argues for continued rapid growth.

eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “China Mobile Advertising: Heady Growth amid Economic Uncertainty.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer corporate subscribers.


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