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Mobile has long tempted marketers in China, but slow download speeds, a dearth of quality data available from third-party tracking and analysis services, and uncertainty about how to get started have constrained the channel.
2013 marks a tipping point for marketers. The size of the mobile audience—and the amount of time users spend on their mobile devices—is simply too massive to bypass any longer. In interviews with eMarketer, ad agency executives in China were unanimous: The question for brands now is not whether they should be engaged in mobile, but how they should structure their approach.
This report provides eMarketer's updated estimates for mobile ad spending in China, along with comparative data from third-party sources. In addition, it offers ideas for marketers to tap into the space based on input from mobile-experienced advertising executives.
For marketers around the world, “next year” has long been the year that mobile advertising would bloom. It now appears that, for China, 2013 is “next year”—at last.
“For several years, marketers have preached that this is the year for mobile. However, it never was—but now, I think we might finally be there,” said Sascha Engel, deputy head of digital and national director of the digital lab at Ogilvy & Mather China. “Every client is considering it seriously.”
Advertisers can no longer ignore the sheer size of the mobile market. eMarketer estimates that 28.5% of China’s population used a smartphone in 2012. We expect that percentage to continue to rise over the coming years, but the huge growth of the recent past seems likely to moderate a great deal, simply because so much of the addressable urban, middle-class market has already adopted smartphones. The total smartphone population will top half a billion by 2015.
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