Retail Sales in China Continue to Expand, but a 25% Slower Pace.

Though Chinese economics over the last four or five months have been under pressure because of the trade issues with the US, retail sales continue their long, long streak of month-over-month growth.  But another story is told when the numbers are viewed from a different vantage point.  Growth over the last quarter of 2018 was 25.3% lower than the growth in the same quarter quarter of 2017.  The effects of a slower economy are having an impact on the Chinese consumer.  Source: www.; National Bureau of Statistics of China

Mixed Feelings

A survey of 200 marketing execs in Europe reveals mixed feelings about bringing digital marketing operation in-house.  On the surface these marketers are making the shift to in-house because they don’t trust their media agencies to be fully transparent about the process and its results.  They want more control.  Hence, a vast majority have moved some or all of their operations in-house, which forces them to face the talent issue.  While most express confidence in their team, almost as many express concerns about finding the skills they need.

The kicker is that 63% of those surveyed believe that moving digital marketing in-house is a passing trend.  Source:

China Nearing Tech Leadership

Rarely do we get the insight from someone at the very center of the Chinese technology world who also has firsthand knowledge of Silicon Valley.  For a better understanding of the Chinese world view listen to the following interview with Kai-Fu Lee, a venture capitalist from Beijing who in the past worked for Apple, Microsoft, and Google.  He talks about China’s big leap in innovation, the secret sauce the West assumed the Chinese would never be able to emulate.  According to Lee, the Chinese challenge to the West is all but over. Source: WNYC

Recommended Content: Best Practices

  • Make sure your recommended content is taxonomy linked, that it expands your native content in a way that’s relevant to your audience.  It’s a key to user engagement.
  • Use an outside content recommendation service.  You can do it in-house if you have an editorial staff or the development capability to automate the process.  Both impact the budget.
  • Page design counts.  More native is better, less crowded is better too.
  • The more connected to your content, the more connection you will make to your audience.
  • High quality images are important.  Content without images or with poor quality images send people away.
  • A/B Test elements such as position on the page – right panel, left panel, bottom, relative size, number of recommended slots per page, etc.
  • Make the distinction between “More from the Web” that just connects the user to an ad and quality recommended content that carries an ad.  The latter is best for engagement and revenue.
  • Use content recommendation as a sales tool, either by adding meat to your own site’s information or by recommending relevant, related products.
  • Beware of assumptions about your audience if you’re doing content recommendation in-house.  Taxonomy algorithms are best for psyching out the user.
  • Just as page design is best when less crowded, pages with to many ad carriers on will have a negative effect on page loading time and drive users away – diminishing returns.

Source: Publishing Executive

China’s Banner Year for Mobile Subscriptions

There’s been lots of talk about the decline in Apple’s phone sales in China, all related to the trade issues with the US.   That doesn’t mean that phones sales in China are down.  In fact, based on year-over-year mobile subscription levels, 2018 was a banner year. Subscriptions were up 33.7% in 2018 compared 2017.  

Lost Apple sales at the end of 2018 mean the company has lost millions of users to domestic, Android phone companies and they are likely to never get them back. Sources: China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom

Getting Ahead of your Skis

Leading marketers identify the top three strategies for 2019: AI, automation and analytics.  They are deeply intertwined and each has its concerns.  AI is the shiniest object of the three.  Most marketers are in some way committed to it, though a majority of the senior AI execs report that a lack of skilled AI workers is a barrier as they try to incorporate it. Then there is automation, an old word that continues to push its way into more and more marketing functions.  When it gets combined with AI the permutations and combinations get even more complex.  How many people are qualified to work in that combined universe?  Then there are the analytics of both marketing effectiveness and consumer response.  Now we are really in the weeds.

If one goes by the talk, marketers in 2019 promise to move aggressively into these areas.  A wise approach is to keep to wider vision by taking one step at a time, perfecting each step before striding into the next.  That’s the smart way to avoid getting to far over your skis while always moving forward. Source: MarketingLand, Bidwin analysis

Apps are Built for Targeted Marketing

If you ask why in-app advertising is today’s sweetheart, this simple graph will provide the answer. All data show that people are more engaged with their mobile devices, and that for many functions, phones are replacing desktops. And when they get to their phones, they are living in their apps and not their browsers.

Advertisers are realizing not merely that the numbers are moving in the mobile direction, but that because apps are narrowly defined, single function programs, they specify the user better than almost any other medium.  The singularity of apps is built for targeted marketers.    Source: Technavio

IAB Taxonomy:A Winner for Digital Advertising

The value of IAB Taxonomy in a time when fraud threatens the flowering digital ad market is clear.  It provides trust and control to both supply and demand sides fo the equation.   Advertisers are concerned about placing their ads in an environment that does not conflict with or tarnish the brand behind the message.  In contrast, legitimate publishers don’t want to be running toxic ads that repel users.

A good taxonomy scheme also has the benefit of better audience targeting.  Ads that match the content’s classification will appear less like spam to the audience, thus, raising the quality for both the user and the advertiser.  The user will fell less offended by the interruption while the advertiser gets a better yield.

As an industry, quality assurance on both sides makes projected growth realistic. If we fail, those projections will not be reached.   Source: Business2Community

The Shifting Dynamics among Chinese Consumers

A new survey in China by Nielsen for luxury e-commerce mall Vipshop and Tencent reveals that some purchasing patterns among Chinese consumers have adjusted.  First and second tier cities, which led the way to consumerism for the country, are now populated by consumers who are less veracious, more price sensitive and less premium brand conscious. Whereas, the third and fourth tier cities, which are now responsible for more than half of luxury goods sales, are where the first and second tier cities used to be: in search of top brands and higher quality products.

The high cost of living in the bigger cities is the main driver for the shift along with a new level of consumer maturity.  The smaller cities, still large by Western standards, have been the targets of infrastructure improvements by major resellers like Alibaba and  They have opened those markets to the choices and luxuries that their bigger neighbors have experienced for the last decade.  Third and fourth tier cities are making up for lost time.  Source:

Deeper Mobile Strategizing Required

Military Strategy

  1. Mobile data provides an opportunity to reach people at the point of decision – when they are walking on the street near an ice cream store or the when they are moving from one branded mobile website or app to another. It’s an opportunity because it could be acted on in the moment, but that contact will degrade to just another advery quickly.
  1. Mobile ads are often viewed negatively by users who feel intruded upon. That requires care by advertisers. Ads need to be created with that fact in mind; they need to be compelling enough that they leap the negativity bump to be received favorably.
  1. Advertisers who can integrate data from ‘dark social’ (emails, instant messages, texts), where people reveal the most intimate knowledge about their closest friends and associates, will benefit from a deeper insight into their audience.

The message: To win the advertising lottery in a mobile environment, brands are increasingly required to up the ante.   Source: AdAge