Tencent’s Emily Ma on the challenges for marketers in China


Emily Ma, product director of Tencent’s advertising platform products department, was a keynote speaker at ClickZ Live Shanghai where she discussed the challenges for advertisers in China.

Ma has worked at Tencent for the past eight years where she is responsible for product planning from an advertiser’s point of view – understanding user behaviors and trends, while at the same time delivering products and services to targeted audiences.

During her presentation, Ma outlined the three big challenges for marketers in China.

  • Changing consumer behavior
  • Changing media
  • Changing advertising trends

1. Changes in consumer behavior

In China, mobile is so important, that it almost acts as an extension of a person’s body. People’s activities are being influenced by their mobiles, which they use at all times of the day, in all sorts of scenarios, from eating to waiting for a bus.


*Source: iResearch

There are two ways to engage a consumer – via the physical path or the virtual path – which in China is predominantly via mobile.

“The virtual path gives advertisers more options but how do we as marketers, adapt to that change?” says Ma.

The biggest impact for marketers has to do with the changes in consumer decision-making paths. No longer are they being influenced solely by a well-placed ad. Today, Chinese consumer decision-making purchases can be largely influenced by what friends are sharing via smartphone, so how a brand reacts to that is key.

2. Changes in media

According to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, Chinese consumers spend 55% of their mobile Internet time on Tencent assets.


That means advertisers in China will be hard pressed to market their products online in China without familiarizing themselves with Tencent’s digital assets which span news, video, ecommerce and the hugely popular QQ messaging platform and WeChat.

This enormous stable of digital assets and partnerships gives Tencent access to consumer data across platforms and touchpoints. And all of this data means a better ability to personalize campaigns to catch each user.

3. Changes in advertising

Advertisers can no longer rely on a single platform, and need to replace campaigns around mass promotions to targeted promotions.

The biggest change Ma has witnessed is the shift from media buying, to audience buying.


Programmatic is another significant change to the media landscape and gives advertisers better reach and frequency using the right creative.


Most recently Tencent launched its programmatic ad opening platform, ACE, which connects the agency, the customer, the third party DSP, and SSP from its own data servers to enhance the role of all partners.


Finally, automation and new technologies give advertisers the option of changing campaigns real time.

We asked Ma about the challenges of China’s advertising market and what marketers should think about when developing solutions and advertising strategies for the Chinese market.

1.    What are some of the biggest challenges for advertisers in the Chinese market?

Emily Ma: The challenges advertisers face today are two-fold. First of all, consumers spend more time engaging with media content split across a number of screens. In addition, media types are becoming more diverse and vertical.

Secondly, consumers are enabled to make decisions for consumption more independently and conveniently, and as a result of 24-hour access to information, the path of consumer decision-making has changed significantly.

The Chinese consumer can access product or services information at anytime around prices, sales, shops, etc. and as a result their path to purchase is accelerated.

As a result, advertisers need to pay more attention to effective utilization of their data assets, by establishing first-party DMP that combines CRM with digital marketing. Good use of data helps improve the results of ad delivery via targeted audience advertising.

Advertisers not only hope to use data in delivery, but, more importantly, to acquire marketing suggestions on brand value, competitive products, the path of consumer behavior and media mix through big data analysis.

2.    What advertising solutions does Tencent offer to overcome some of these challenges?

Emily Ma: According to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016, Chinese mobile users spend more than 55% of their online time on Tencent platforms, including QQ, Qzone, WeChat, v.qq.com and Tencent News. It means Tencent products are following Chinese netizens’ every steps.

This gives Tencent access to some powerful data and it can help brands understand and pinpoint their target audience, and allow them to use tags (demographics statistics, content preferences, product preferences, social preferences, music preferences) to more accurately identify users across different channels.

It also means Tencent gets a much wider view of the whole consumer decision-making process. For example, Tencent News and Tencent Video account systems can be leveraged to create very accurate user profiles so as to push tailored content to customers. While QQ’s search interface can be used to make quick and easy enquiries and comparisons.

In addition, as Tencent enables resource and data sharing with ecommerce platforms such as Dianping and JD.com, marketers can mix brand advertising and performance advertising to improve marketing efficiency and achieve better ROI.

Other services, such as Tencent’s DMP+Ad-Serving cross-screen/cross-media delivery service also allows brands to achieve a 57% higher target audience concentration, and new conversion rates of around 45% higher at less than two-thirds the cost.

This resonates well with the saying, “The Best Marketing Decision = Best Data + Best Analytics +Best Delivery.”

Tencent’s advanced algorithms and data-driven consumer insights puts it in a strong position to offer marketers one-stop customized programmatic buying solutions.

3. How can marketers optimize their marketing with data?

Emily Ma: The more data marketers have, the more they can do. Use data to:

  • Know more about the behaviors and interests of your audience by linking data from different digital mediums and from various data sources.
  • Formulate different ad strategies for different mediums and for different audiences.
  • During a campaign use programmatic buying to accomplish different audience strategies in order to improve target audience percentages and reach efficiently.
  • By connecting the touchpoints of brands and users, marketers can get a more holistic roadmap from strategies to solutions.

To access Emily Ma’s full slide deck from her recent presentation at ClickZ Live Shanghai, click here.

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