Here in their own words, are some of the key takeaways delivered by speakers and panelists at yesterday's event. (The following are paraphrases, not direct quotes, given that many of the speakers delivered their comments in Putonghua.)
The view from China is very exciting, but you can't stay too long to take in the view, as things are moving too fast. Brands must move from a role of a persuader to one of an enabler.
—Jeff Kwek, AGM, Channel Business, Tencent Online Media Group
Creating value is important when marketing in a digital world, whether as utility or content. What is even more powerful is social context.
—Phil Teeman, Chief Executive Officer, Aegis Media China
For many years, it has been a one-way stream of communication, but there are now opportunties to engage in true dialogue. This requires more honesty from brands. There is a saying that you can fool someone once, but cannot fool everyone all the time.
—Jean-Yves Naouri, COO & Member of the Management Board, Directoire, Publicis Groupe
In China, there is lack of trusted information through traditional outlets. It has always been word-of mouth that is more powerful. There is also lack of entertainment on traditional media, as Chinese entertainment is not as entertaining as it should be, that's why it's supplemented by Korean dramas and such. There is also lack of opportunities to socialise due to the one-child policy, that's why the Chinese are looking to hang out with friends on social media. These friends act as a filter as well as a curator of information on social media. Because social listening allows us to listen unintrusively and intently to consumers, it's how you can pick out pockets of interest via topic tags and key words that can drive market research and content strategy.
—Sam Flemming, CEO & Founder, CIC
The main purpose of using social media in China is getting news, instead of sharing experiences like in the West. The definition of news extends to 'useful information' that has been screened by consumers' friends. Unlike in the West where people protect their privacy, the Chinese are much more willing to share private details of their families and lives on social media. This is also happening on e-commerce comment chains, not just the usual social networking services.
—Jacquelyn Wu, Marketing Director, Campbell Swire & Professor of International Markets Study, IMC, Fudan University- ITESM Program
One FT client who manages a really traditional brand finally set up WeChat and Weibo accounts. Everytime he posted something, he will get a lot of likes or comments, but he does not reply to them or interact with other users. He is still using a traditional method to approach social media.
—Tracy Zhang, President, FTChinese.com
In China, online advocacy is especially important because the offline world is not as relevant in terms of objectivity. We need to be responsive to online dynamics. The internet plays an emotional role in people's lives because it is a blank canvas for self-expression of identities that are true to their souls. The online space provides release and liberation, more than Buddhism.
—Tom Doctoroff, CEO, APAC, JWT
Mobile page-views (PVs) as a percentage of total page-views grew from 0.8 per cent in Jan 2013 to 15.8 per cent in Feb 2014, so the battlefield for mobile advertising exposure is emerging. In fact, our CTO said the other day that the mobile is your future brain.
—Calvin Chan, Chief Operating Officer, AdMaster
In a multi-screen world, we can adapt content to different screens, but we struggle with adapting to different user behaviour on different screens.
—Ben Wilson, Marketing Director China, Reckitt Benickser
We look at the mobile not as a device but as a lifestyle. Consider these three features: individualised, private and intimate. These are very straightforward and easy to understand.The function of a mobile device is already more than just communications. As technology progresses, it will even become a tool to monitor our health or even manage our career development.
—Rasheed Zhao, Associate Director of Marketing, IMC, Digital & Media, Mondelez China
It is dangerous to assume that consumers' first point of contact for e-commerce is always Tmall or Taobao. There is Jingdong for electronics and Yihaodian for food. For successful retailers, what we observe is how they changed their organisational structures, like appoint a VP of omni-channel sales that forces the marketing, retail and e-commerce departments to share resources and combine strategies. This is a big change to make if you want to stay on top of the game.
—George Godula, Founder & CEO, Web2Asia
Merchants are worried about pricing conflicts online and offline, but for those that has e-commerce built into their reporting lines, they can overcome this.
—Robert Huo, Head of Customer Operation & Branding Performance, Alimama
It's either e-commerce or no commerce in future in China.
—Tony Chen, CDO, China & Taiwan, GroupM, China
Chinese consumers spend 90 per cent of media consumption time on more than three screens. The challenge is how to do storytelling on multiple screens because consumers don't want to see the same things on different screens.
—Jean Lin, Global CEO, Isobar
Big data isn't the point. There can be a big ocean of data, but what is the pearl? The pearl is the insight generated that inspires a method of long-term engagement with the consumer. I actually would like to see more partnering between brands. A toothpaste by itself is not a sexy product, but if you have data to show that using toothpaste together with other personal care products in preparation for a romantic date, it'll work.
—Scott Beaumont, President, Google Greater China
Consumers are willing to watch if an online video is well-shot and well-produced, but when they are bombarded with repetition, it will not bode well in terms of both affectiveness and effectiveness. In the planning process, we must consider not only reach, but acceptance.
—Fareeda Cassumbhoy, Chief Strategy Officer & National Deputy General Manager, Hylink Digital Solution
90 per cent of programmatic buying campaigns are performance-driven ones. Is there room for branding in the programmatic space? Programmatic TV, perhaps.
—Narelle Hicks, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Acxiom
Social media marketing has taken a new turn. It's no longer enough to do story-telling, but 'story-acting'. You must act on your story by providing additional value-added services outside of traditional channels. There is no definite answer to the Weibo versus WeChat question; it's like asking a man who he will save first if his mother and wife both fell into the sea at the same time. For now, Weibo is news- and interest-oriented, while WeChat is much more personal with real relationship connectors.
—Jason Zhan, Founder, Vitamine & Managing Partner, Arkr Group