BEIJING: Advertisers in China plan to increase their digital marketing expenditure by 17% on average in the coming year, according to a new survey which also highlights the growing importance of marketing automation.

Marketing data technology firm AdMaster polled 93 major advertisers during December and found that 59% of respondents expected to increase digital spending by more than 10%.

The balance of that spending is also shifting heavily towards mobile: 87% indicated they would be spending more on mobile, while 55% will decrease spending on PCs.

On mobile, the first port of call for advertisers is social networking apps, followed by video apps and only then mobile search. On PC, video is the most preferred, followed by search engines with social networking sites in third place.

Nearly half of the advertisers said they would invest in an internet celebrity and key opinion leaders (49%) on both WeChat and Sina Weibo, closely followed by investing for opportunities for user-generated content on social media (48%). Working with celebrities, stars and hosts of live streaming platforms would also be considered by advertisers (37%).

They will also have to lean on technology to get the best out of the massive amounts of data being collected and to optimise marketing efficiency, effectiveness and precision, said AdMaster: among all marketing technologies, data management platforms (DMPs) were the focus for more than half (55%) of respondents.

In second place in terms of attention was AR and VR, cited by 45% of survey respondents, with automated creative, programmatic buying and location-based services all in equal third, mentioned by 36%.

AdMaster described programmatic buying as "an accelerator for entering into the marketing AI era" and anticipated the coming year will see the adoption of brand trading desks that enable brands to manage and conduct their own one-stop advertising campaign buying by themselves.

Data sourced from AdMaster; additional content by Warc staff