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How do you find your way forward in China’s complex media marketplace?

China, as we know, is transforming from an export-driven economy to a consumer-driven one. But sometimes it can still be a daunting place for Western marketers to crack, especially given its complex media ecosystem. The Drum spoke to iPinYou, a marketing technology, and big data platform and one of the first companies to bring audience-targeted programmatic buying to brands in Asia, to talk about the Chinese market and reveal the habits of its consumers.

 

The technology provider recently expanded into Europe with the launch of its London office in October last year, which is spearheaded by its European General Manager, David Nottingham. He’s responsible for connecting European marketers to iPinYou’s solutions and helping them to capitalise on the opportunities currently available in China.

 

The appeal of the Chinese market

Many European luxury brands have expressed interest in targeting Chinese travellers knowing that a boom is on the cards. As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, it’s an attractive market for advertisers. However, it can be a tricky market for European marketers to understand because there are over 450 different creative formats in China – which sits in stark contrast to the six or so formats they’re accustomed to working with.

 

iPinYou aims to create a synergy between European marketers and the Chinese market, which involves working out the key cultural differences and educating marketers on what they need to do to meet Chinese programmatic standards. Products like Alphadata, their unified platform which allows marketers to activate specific parts of Chinese media, handle ad scheduling, campaign management, even analytics. It’s custom-built to extract data across different platforms and provide marketers with enough insight to target individual users. The team can also operate online and offline programmatic capabilities with digital out of home, connected tv and mobile targeting and attribution in a single campaign – proving their ability to tailor their services according to what the client needs.

 

“These technologies allow marketers to make better decisions,” said Grace Huang, iPinYou Co-founder & CEO. “Our investment in our data engineering teams and our algorithms allow brands and marketers to make more informed decisions.”

 

How to navigate the Chinese media market

Understanding how Chinese customers consume media is undoubtedly important. Data is crucial, and there are many existing innovations that are miles ahead of what’s possible in Europe. Huang cites the colour-changing tram in Shenzhen as one example, which transforms its hue – and ads – according to the weather. “This is how brands engage with users in China, all data points and variables can be utilised to target users in every life situation,” said Huang. “At iPinYou, we're just ensuring that our technology can give advertisers access to all of the latest innovations in China from data management to media activation.”

 

Figuring out how the country operates – the fact that WePay and AliPay are more widely used than credit cards, people don’t use email or have any access to Google, Facebook and Instagram – will help marketers get a handle on how to tackle the Chinese market.

 

Rather than apply a one-size-fits-all approach, they need to be open to adaptation as there isn’t a standard format for marketers to embrace.

 

Data integration

Excelling in the market really requires on the ground expertise, particularly because in China, many publishers don’t accept third-party JavaScript – Alibaba and Tencent included. This means that it can be a difficult place for technology vendors as there isn’t a unified language across all media and channels – proving challenging for programmatic demand side platforms (DSPs). Although in the long term, this might future-proof businesses as publishers remain in control and can create the ecosystems they want to operate. In the short term, this can be testing for marketers to access all of this information and insight as the data changes across platforms.

 

“We're lucky that one of our major points of difference is that we have more integrations with every app and individual publisher in China than any other programmatic platform,” according to Huang.

 

“That means that we work to create tech teams to focus on integrating the data from each. Our technology has more data integrations, more media integration and more innovative integration than any other provider,” she concludes.

 

Featured by The Drum

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