Bertilla Teo
Jan 6, 2017

China outlook: Great expectations

As the dust settles on a brutal year, it leaves many questions about China and technology to ponder for the 12 months that lie ahead.

China outlook: Great expectations

Editor's note: We'll be featuring 2017 Outlook content from the latest issue of Campaign all this week. Subscribers can see it all now in the emagazine.

The whirlwind of events that blew over all of us in 2016 will undoubtedly leave everyone wondering what the year to come will bring. From the passing of the musical icon that was David Bowie to the brutish campaign to get elected to the highest office in the US, the coming year will affect us in varying degrees. Listening to Major Tom henceforth will probably sound more hauntingly ethereal, knowing the artist is no longer around to create more original music for fans, or how Donald Trump will run his presidency. 

So far, the expected rout of the stock market has not happened, and instead the Dow reached new historic highs. The grinding out of an agreement by OPEC to reduce oil production to stabilise oil prices seems to have had the desired effect for now. Will it continue and for how long? There seems to be growing concern over China and US relations due to the President Elect’s rhetoric. How will this chapter play out? Will Apple’s much rumoured venture into the car industry see the light of day soon or remain as such, a rumour? How will the present giants such as BMW react? What about Tesla? Just a few ‘ifs’ to ponder — and that is enough to boggle the mind.

In Publicis Media’s latest global study of business transformation on how technology is changing products and services, we’ve seen how much consumers and business executives alike have embraced technological disruptions: more than eight in 10 declare being in synch with the pace of change, and a full one in four wants things to go faster. We have confirmed this is not a young generation prerogative anymore and people of all ages are clearly not scared of technology — they’re craving it! 

So, it looks like disruption is here to stay and the prospect of being overwhelmed by new technology, useful or otherwise, will be a familiar sight. This is a world moving forward fast. Technology will make it go hyper. We will have to accept; learn; break it down; integrate to provide the best solution in their respective environment. An alchemy of creativity, data, technology and media.

The concept of using user data to deliver intent-driven, personalised advertising at scale has been understood by so many that it has become an industry obsession. The voices urging to make digital a more integrated practice rather than a siloed specialty are being heard. The strides of evidence-based marketing are increasingly being felt in the boardrooms. Future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality are on everyone’s lips, even before they manage to get some traction.

And yet, most of these discussions are still painfully theoretical. Businesses are still figuring out how to (and who should) manage the integration of data platforms. Data giants are trying to hide behind garden walls. Media budgets are still being split between traditional and digital media. Many marketers are still obsessed with vanity metrics while investing too little in measuring effectiveness. And too much innovation is used as a pretence for publicity instead of genuine transformation.

This is evident both in China, and universally.

Moving along into 2017, our industry is in the midst of a profound transition. The fundamental rules are the same, but the technology means the game is inevitably changing. Our belief is very clear: there are great expectations in this great evolution; only the fastest will survive. 

Bertilla Teo is Greater China CEO, Publicis Media.


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