eMarketer Releases New Estimates for Programmatic Ad Spending in China

In 2017, 79.9% of programmatic outlays went to mobile advertising

Programmatic ad spending in China totaled $16.69 billion (RMB110.90 billion) in 2017, a 48.6% increase over 2016. Internet giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent—the so-called BAT companies—will continue to dominate the programmatic advertising landscape as consumers spend more time on their digital platforms.

Since China is a mobile-first market for internet access, digital advertisers have followed consumers by investing in mobile ad formats. In 2017, 79.9% of programmatic outlays were dedicated to mobile advertising. Mobile will drive total programmatic growth throughout the forecast.

The BAT companies are such large publishers that they control advertising on their platforms, casting a large shadow over competing small and medium-sized publishers in China. As a result, most advertisers buy ads directly through one of the three BAT companies. In 2017, direct sales accounted for 63.5% of programmatic digital display ad spending, while real-time bidding (RTB) represented 36.5%.

Programmatic's share of overall display ad spending in China (60.0%) still lagged the US (78.0%) and the UK (79.0%) in 2017. While advertisers in China have limited options for digital marketing, an ever-growing number of publishers in the US and UK increases competition, which enables more spending.

These estimates are drawn from eMarketer's latest report, "Programmatic Advertising in China: eMarketer's Updated Forecast and Estimates." The report includes eMarketer's latest forecast for programmatic ad spending in China through 2019. eMarketer PRO subscribers can access the full report here. Nonsubscribers can learn more here.

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