A further 29.2% afforded magazine ads a similar role, and 27.8% relied on word of mouth from friends, relatives and colleagues.
Outdoor advertising was cited by 27.6%, trailed by comments on bulletin boards and blogs with 27.2%, material on microblogs such as Sina Weibo with 26.9% and newspaper ads with 26.5%.
Television commercials registered 24.2% on this metric, followed by search engines on 24.3%. Comments on social websites were not far behind on 21%, ahead of radio ads, marketing emails and cinema advertising.
Albert Cai, Ipsos China's digital research director, told the China Daily: "'Birds of a feather flock together' is the most fundamental characteristic of social media.
"People get together in line with their common interests, hobbies, favorite activities or most serious problems. It facilitates companies in finding and targeting customers and increases the accuracy of communication."
When it came to influencing purchase intent, official websites again topped the charts at 47.5%. LED ads in shopping malls, stores and on buildings were mentioned by a further 32.8% of the panel.
Newspaper advertising logged 31.3% on this measure, just in front of magazine ads on 30.6%, internet search engines on 30.5%, user reviews on blogs and bulletin boards with 30.4%, and word of mouth on 28.1%.
Posts on social media showed a greater effect here, influencing 26.1%, ahead of microblogs on 24.5%. Television spots secured 22.4%, with radio ads on 20.9%, falling behind company emails on 23.4%.
Overall, product-related information in traditional media – such as in editorial content – delivered the lowest scores for building awareness, on 12.8%, and encouraging purchase, on 14.6%.
These totals stood at 17.3% and 17% for information in films and TV shows respectively, suggesting product placement may be of limited significance to Chinese consumers.