Marketers target Chinese commuters

14 November 2014

NEW YORK/BEIJING: Chinese smartphone users interact with mobile ads three times more on a daily basis than their American counterparts, according to new research which also identifies an opportunity to target them with ads during their commute to work.

A study carried out for trade organisations IAB and IAB China surveyed 500 respondents in each country found that differences in lifestyle and transport were major factors in explaining how each nation consumed mobile media.

Thus, for example, more US mobile users consume media on their devices when they first wake up in the morning (39%), while more Chinese users do so right before bed (45%). Chinese users also conduct media-related activities on their smartphone during their commute and at coffee breaks more than American users.

In fact, Chinese consumers are three times as likely as Americans to use a smartphone while on public transport. And the IAB said that consumers' mobile use while commuting in China could be likened to premium commuter time radio in the US.

Mobile ads served in China during travel to and from work could be similarly successful to US drivetime radio advertising, it suggested, and could facilitate purchases with a diversion to a store or restaurant on the way.

"Previous studies have pointed to our country as being 'mobile first,' and this study reinforces that fact, while uncovering key factors that can make all the difference when launching a mobile ad campaign in China," said Chen Yong, who leads IAB China.

The greater use of public transport in China was also thought to be a factor in consumers there being more likely to view full-length TV shows on their smartphones on a weekly basis (71% v 28%).

Chinese smartphone users are more likely to interact with ads on the device – almost six in ten (59%) do so at least once a day – three times as many as American users (22%).

The research also found that the characteristics of mobile ads most likely to elicit a consumer response were similar in both countries.

These included ads related to something that people are currently shopping for, ads that include a coupon for an item that is already under purchase consideration, ads that consumers think are "fun" and ads for users' favourite brands.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff