Mobile Marketing in China

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch an impressive panel of experts discuss mobile marketing in China. These experts in mobile advertising represented one of the largest markets in the world. It was at 3G World Congress & Mobility Marketplace in Hong Kong, where the panel consisted of four mobile marketers from China: China Mobile, 21 Communications, Madhouse, and PUCA China.

Alex Chen, Deputy Vice President of Monternet, China Mobile’s mobile Web (WAP) portal, discussed the success of mobile Web in the China market. It was estimated there are approximately 40-100 million page views on Monternet each day. Wow! Agreement on the number of page views was actually up for debate on the panel, but bottom line, there are a lot! Everyone seems to be using mobile Web.

Mr. Chen also shared that over 80 percent of the Chinese market uses China Mobile (China Mobile also being more advanced in terms of WAP deployment and services than their competitor China Unicom).

Joshua Maa from Madhouse estimated there are approximately 50,000 WAP sites in China (though the majority are single page sites). Stephane Vidaillet feels the biggest opportunity for growth in China is mobile Web (WAP) advertising. China Mobile is installing 2D reading software on all their new handsets, so we can expect to see 2D bar codes have significant uptake — particularly in regards to mobile couponing.

The panel discussed which brands are the most aggressive on mobile advertising. All four participants agreed the big brands in China have been most responsive. It’s most often been the international brands, over the local Chinese brands, that have participated in mobile marketing campaigns. These including BMW, Apple, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and so on. In fact, some of the most active mobile marketers are actually the mobile phone manufacturers themselves. For these players, mobile fits the demographic profile for the products they’re launching – but also plays to global campaigns which these brands are looking to deploy for their products in all markets. Mobile provides them with a unique ability to do this.

China Mobile discussed new opportunities in mobile advertising with Flash as well as mobile video and television. These are welcome innovations as it’s somewhat difficult to enter text from a mobile device.

In terms of an overall update on the mobile marketing market in China, the representatives from the three vendors commented the majority of clients are in test mode today. However we’re now beginning to see dollars allocated specifically for mobile campaigns and the budgets being allocated growing significantly. For each brand, measures of success vary based on overall goals and objectives.

The Chinese government has also become active in terms of creating rules around mobile utilization in order to ensure a spam free environment. The Mobile Marketing Association will launch an Asia Pacific chapter next month, and looks forward to creating the guidelines and best practices for the industry.

Thank you to all four of the panelists for sharing your perspectives: Alex Chen, China Mobile; Joshua Maa, Madhouse; Stephane Vidaillet, Puca China; and, David Turchetti, 21 Communications.

I wish you all a very happy and joyous holiday season! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there are specific topics that you would like to cover next year. Our mobile marketing industry is growing quickly and it is because of the passion and dedication from all of our industry participants.

Thanks for your contribution. See you next year!

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