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Chinese marketers outspending global peers on mobile: WFA study

A survey of 21 marketers in China who spend more than US$5.7 billion annually on advertising has found that mobile is a far higher consideration in their digital plans than for bigger spending marketers of global brands.

The study by media agency PHD for the World Federation of Advertisers found that, using a weighted global average of mobile spend, 11 per cent of digital budgets in China are currently going on mobile.

A small number of respondents from the survey are spending up to 40 per cent of digital budgets on mobile.

This compares to a similar earlier study of 23 global advertisers that spend US$39 billion annually who said they only spend six per cent of their digital budgets on mobile. None of them said they were spending more than 20 per cent.

Almost two thirds of Chinese marketers said they planned a “large increase” in their mobile budgets over the next 12 months, compared to 54 per cent of global marketers.

But marketers in China worry more than their global peers about how to measure mobile alongside other media.

The difficulty of measuring the impact of mobile and comparing it with other channels was highlighted as the medium’s biggest obstacle, mentioned by 67 per cent in China and 50 per cent globally, the survey found.

One fifth of the Chinese respondents claim that mobile has “been a key priority for some time” and that mobile is “well integrated” into their overall marketing plans. A further 35 per cent said they have a “strategic vision” for mobile.

Just four per cent of global advertisers said they had successfully integrated mobile into their marketing, although 57 per cent said they had a strategic vision for how to use the channel.

In China the top use of mobile in the last year has been QR codes (84 per cent), while the global brand owners focused on paid search and display (both 88 per cent).

Mobile social content is a bigger focus for brands in China, while global marketers are more likely to spend on mobile video, the survey finds.

David Porter, Unilever’s media director for North Asia, and WFA member, said that it was “clear” that marketers are recognising the potential of mobile, but they want to see better measurement and more transparency, and are wary of the medium’s complexity.

Porter said the WFA applauded “the increasing energy with which industry bodies in China are addressing these issues.”

The research was presented by Unilever’s David Porter and Nishtha Mehta from PHD at a Mobile Marketing Forum conference in Shanghai.

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