Tracking over 200 ad platforms and 800m mobile devices, the research found that mobile advertising allows for more precise targeting. Last year, the number of Chinese mobile brand-awareness campaigns climbed to 37% compared to 63% for direct-response ads.
Direct-response versus brand-awareness mobile campaigns
Mobile brand-awareness ads mostly utilise video (34%) and information stream (22%) ad formats, which make up over 50% of all ads served. Splash screen and search engine ads follow.
Popularity of mobile brand-awareness ad formats
On iOS, mobile direct-response ads saw click rates shoot up 255% whilst the increase in number of activations was fairly low at 12%. In contrast, both clicks (112%) and activations (146%) increased on Android.
Due to the Chinese market’s strong monopolisation of Android app stores, mobile ad clicks have been lower compared to iOS. iOS relies heavily on ad platforms and this resulted in 88% of mobile ad clicks during the second half of 2015.
Mobile ad clicks 2014-2015
Mobile phone users in Chinese provinces Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai tend to click more mobile ads. These results are also a representation of mobile device distribution in China.
Top 5 provinces in ad clicks on iOS and Android
Whilst in 2014 gaming ads were responsible for much of the mobile ad market share, trends have changed. In 2015, gaming ads dropped to 60%, whilst eCommerce mobile ads shot up to 12% (from 2% in 2014) and new media, travel and transportation as well as other sectors also rapidly took share of the market. Finance, real estate, education and medical sectors have seen some of the fastest growth over the 12 months from 2014.
Mobile advertising split per sector
However, user acquisition costs haven’t changed much. Traditionally, iOS users have been more expensive to acquire and that trend has continued. In addition, the financial sector has to pay more for customers compared to gaming and eCommerce sectors.
Cost of user acquisition
The study further highlights that Data Management Platform (DMP) usage is rising rapidly in China. Mobile ads on DMP accounted for 12% of the total, up from 4% in 2014. That represents a 200% increase year-on-year. Gaming, eCommerce and financial sectors drove this growth.
Mobile DMP usage on the rise
DMP-served ads were also found to be significantly more effective in driving Click-Through Rates (CTR), which were 50% higher than non-DMP delivered ads. Conversion Rates (CVR) were even higher, with DMP delivery 150% higher than non-DMP.
Effects of DMP ads on CTR and CVR
The study found Glispa, InMobi and Baidu to be the top three mobile ad networks for clicks, and InMobi, Domob and Youmi to score highest for activations.
The most popular ad networks were Google AdWords, Baidu Union and Baidu Search.
With China being such a complex market due to the fragmented nature of its mobile ecosystem, it’s harder to gain a clear understanding of mobile consumer habits and preferences. Talking Data and Newzoo recently launched the China Knowledge Hub in order to help global marketers understand the Chinese mobile customers.