AI Marketing is all about Audience Expansion

One hears much about the use of AI as a tool for more precise audience targeting, as a tool for parsing data down to its narrowest sliver.  But marketers told Blushift in a recent survey that the more dominant use of AI is for audience expansion.  Key to broadening an audience is appealing content, which provides a reason for new people to engage.   And it appears that AI is becoming central to content development as more marketers are finding ways to use it for that purpose.

Price Pressure in China Receded in the Fourth Quarter

Late summer price pressure on inflation was relieved at the end of the year. But these days with all the other pressures on the Chinese economy – high debt, trade wars and such – that are working against increased growth, it’s not surprising that this positive is likely to have little effect.

 Source: www.; National Bureau of Statistics of China

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

  • A clue for marketers using mobile advertising in their mix comes from a recent survey that examined bedtime receptivity to mobile ads by demographic.  The simple take away is that older folks are significantly less likely to engage prior to sleep than younger folks.  Rarely, is such a swing seenfrom one generation to another – like the 33% swing from Gen Zers to Boomers.  This insight gives marketers clear audience targeting guidance.  Source: MarketLand

Five Marketing Strategies for Today

Staying relevant to customers is a marketer’s responsibility. It requires staying on a ball that’s always rolling.  Here are five areas that require attention.

  • Voice search is more and more part of standard practice in households with voice assistants like Alexa and for all of us with mobile phones.  It requires your website to be structured with easy-to-read content that a voice assistant or voice searches can easily pick up.
  • Many users lean on customer reviews when considering a purchase, make sure you are mindful of what consumers are saying and fix any issues they are identifying.                                                                                                   
  • Remember the influence of mobile phones when using video in content or marketing.  They tend to be used vertically making landscape videos less appealing.  Since we tend to develop content on our landscape oriented desktop an adjustment to the increasingly mobile world of portrait video is required.
  • Keep your social media activity fresh.  Both content and advertising need to go beyond repetitive if they are to retain consumer interest.
  • Chatbots are being successfully used in the sales cycle to walk people through a buying process, as a consumer service platform to get standard questions answered quickly and, in the process, as a means to gather customer information. 

Source: Entrepreneur

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