Speaking to The Drum at last week's Cannes Lions festival, Chris Tung sought to differentiate Alibaba from arch rival Amazon by suggesting that it offers advertisers a certain degree of impartiality because it doesn't sell its own products across its various online marketplaces.
"We are running a totally a totally different marketplace to Amazon. We're supporting our partners to build their brands through our data capability," he said.
"And so, the key words from Alibaba are that we're open, collaborative and can make it easy to do business anywhere," he added.
Data and the gathering of insights into the behaviour of Alibaba's 450m active users are key to helping Western brands engage with consumers in China, Tung believed, as he promoted the company's Uni Marketing suite of tools.
According to Alibaba, Uni Marketing aggregates and analyses data so brands can better identify, target, reach and retain their customers, and Tung described it as "a system that leverages the multi-dimensional data around our shoppers to help build brands in a different way".
Specifically, marketers can access its "Brand Databank", an online dashboard that shows brands how many consumers are interested in their products and that can also track the success of campaigns.
Other tools in the Uni Marketing suite include "Uni Strategy", which is said to provide "a complete picture" of consumer behaviour across touchpoints.
There is also "Uni Communication", a media planning and ad-serving tool, and "Uni Operation", which enables brands to create and deliver personalised content and manage consumer relationships across Alibaba touchpoints.
Finally, "Uni Desk" is a planning tool that allows agencies to access a brand's data bank account to service them more effectively. "It's a co-creation process between agency, Alibaba and advertiser for a much more targeted and better ROI type of advertising," said Tung.
These and the other capabilities on offer certainly seem to have persuaded Publicis Groupe to get involved, with the French communications giant announcing last week that it had become the first agency to adopt Alibaba's Uni Marketing tools.
"I'm delighted to announce that our clients will have priority access to the Uni Desk tools as they are rolled out and we're already working with several of our clients across both FMCG and Luxury categories," commented Bertilla Teo, CEO of Publicis Media Greater China, at the time.
Data sourced from The Drum, Publicis Groupe; additional content by WARC staff