Concerns about Chinese Consumers are Overblown

Keeping a close watch on the Chinese consumer is the main pastime of economists these days.  Since trade pressures have had a measurable effect on the manufacturing sector of the Chinese economy, it is natural to watch the effect they’re having on the other side, the consumer.  

Based on the year-over-year expenditures-per-capita increase of 14.8% in 2018 compared to 2017, it seems that consumers are holding up pretty well.  The only area of steep purchasing decline was seen in the automobile sector. Balancing against the auto decline are the dramatic expenditure increases in service categories like healthcare, leisure and travel healthcare expenditures.

Tianjie He, senior economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in January,

“The fact that retail sales excluding cars (have) held up well and consumer confidence has also improved indicate that concerns about China’s consumers are largely overdone.”  Source: CNBC

Mobile Ads Need to Conquer Two Levels of Distraction

Have you ever thought about what you did before your mobile phone placed the world at your finger tips?  What you did while watching TV or before you go to sleep?

In today’s world you pick up your mobile phone because watching TV or falling asleep is not enough to keep your fragmented mind occupied. 

Turns out that those times when you’re doing something else, when you used to just do that something, whatever it was, is now good time for advertisers to reach you with their mobile message – this according to a survey of 1,000 adults who apparently had nothing else to do. 

Note to advertisers: Your message has got to be compelling because you’re hoping to pull a user’s attention away from the content on his/her mobile devise and the other thing he or she is doing at the same time. Source: MediaPost

China is Approaches 1.3 Billion Smartphone Subscribers

The big smartphone news from last month was that Apple’s phone sales in China had crashed in the last quarter.  But that didn’t mean that smartphone sales in China had turned negative. The carrier numbers from January imply that Chinese manufacturers have replaced Apple sales and then some.  Smartphone subscribers in China hit 11.3 million in January, which is a half million above the 12-month average for last year.  Sources: China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom

AI-Infused Marketing

A panel at CES threw some light on the advantages of AI-infused data analysis in marketing.

In spite of all the talk, AI’s role in audience targeting has just begun.  Matthew Patrick, host and creator of the YouTube channels The Game Theorists, made the point that “a lot of content creators and brands are still planning campaigns off gut feelings” rather than using the dozens of data points that are available for guidance.

One of the areas in which data can be better used is geo-location.  A deeper view allows advertisers to reach into neighborhoods rather than whole cities – the messaging to an affluent neighborhood verses a working class neighborhood might be different.

And with testing, AI can help you better reach your intended audience by indicating where your message is connecting and where it’s not. 

Testing can look back toward the creator him/herself.  If you know your audience from data, you can sift through the thousands of content creators/influencers to find the right person for your project.  That sifting process will reveal the phonies and the robotic content producers you want to avoid.  Source: CampaignUS

The Same Old, Same Old

Nothing new is reveled about the concerns of both brands and their agencies regarding in-app advertising.  Fraud and viewability are concerns for both brands and agencies, though fraud is a bigger conern for brands.  Eliminating those concerns is required by about half of the media buyers surveyed, roughly the same as those with concerns.

Buying criteria follows standard logic; targeting leads the way.  Inventory quality and brand safety are a significant part of the buying criteria as well and they reflect the concerns expressed in the survey. 

It is striking how these results are similar to results one would expect from a survey asking about buying web traffic.  With all the talk of the fast changing digital world, this makes it look like more of the same. Source: App Developer Magazine

It’s Hard to Keep Facebook Down, Even for China

The closest thing to water in the digital universe is Facebook.  One can try to wall it off, but it will seep into everything, even places that have been waterproofed.  Hence, the news from The Street and from Pivotal Research that Facebook, which has been banned from China since 2009, yielded $5-$7 billon in advertising revenue from the country during 2018, is proof of the theory.  China is the fifth largest contributor to Facebook’s ad revenue behind the US, Russia, Turkey and Canada.

Facebook’s work around is its link to Meet Social, a Chinese company that is estimated to have placed tens of thousands of daily ads on Facebook.  There’s the leak.  And there’s the key any China successful strategy – it’s best to connect with a local company as many big Western companies doing business in China have.  Source:

AI-Infused Marketing

We often detach elements of the marketing process to our disadvantage.  Here’s an example of AI integration through the whole marketing process.

Regardless of the product or service being offered, you should start with an AI software search of the web for competitive products/services.  Gather data about competitive features and benefits and pricing.  With that information you can fit your product/service into a  marketing mix and determine who your customer is likely to be.

Now you’re ready to employ AI content creation tools to align your messages to reach the defined audience through your website, social media and advertising.  AI informed messaging fine tunes the communication and will yield a better result both for brand building and advertsing results.

Chinese Manufacturer’s Bail Out in January

The precipitous -3.8% drop compared to November’s number is the largest decline we have seen since we’ve been watching and the lowest this Index has fallen since February of 2016.  Obviously, the trade wars have taken hold and are now affecting the judgment of purchasers in the manufacturing sector.  Index numbers below 50 are on the negative side for futures.  Notably, the January number for the Services sector, as reported last week, remianed at a healthy 53.3. Source: Markit Economics

Typical Newbie Content Marketing Mistakes

Basic to all good communication is knowing your intended audience.  That’s where it all starts. Yet, too much of what we produce is driven by what we want potential customers to hear rather than customer needs.  Once created, we often make our content difficult to access where customers are.

But the greatest sin may be to create content without a solid, data-oriented strategy and performance metrics for measuring results.  This leads to content that’s disconnected from business strategies, content that’s doomed to fail in its communication and doomed to waste money as well.

Another mistake is to flood the zone with content rather than delivering a more focused, deliberate message.  Randy Frisch: Co-Founder, CMO, and President of Uberflip observes, “Many organizations believed if they simply created content, people would come. You know like Kevin Costner in ‘Field of Dreams’”.  All of which goes back to the first point: know your audience and then target them with your message.  Source: MarTech Advisor

Advertising in China was up 5.2% in 2018

Ad spend in China increased in 2018 by 5.2%, up to $92.7 billion.  Like in the US, the digital and out-of-home gains are coming at the expense of declining traditional TV advertising.  Much of the Internet spending is driven by e-commerce, as would be expected.

Patrick Xu, CEO of GroupM China and WPP China comments that “Improving the quality and personalization of brand marketing is also increasingly important and will be a strong driver of growth in the advertising ecosystem.” Source: Shine