According to the 2017 CTR Market Research report, China’s advertising market grew 4.3 percent in the last year. The improvement marks the end of a drought, with a 2.9 percent drop marked in 2015 and a 0.6 percent drop in 2016.
Breaking this down in terms of media, traditional media has seen just 0.2 percent growth in the last four years, with traditional TV clocking in at 1.7 percent growth in 2017. Burgeoning sectors include cinema ads that have undergone 25.5 percent growth, and lift TV and lift poster ads that have advanced 20.4 percent and 18.8 percent, respectively.
China’s media market triangle
The current industry landscape in China is, in many ways, a triumvirate. Traditional media has its home on CCTV and enjoys the advantage of massive coverage. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) fill the Internet arena and offer communication and interaction. “Life scene media” completes the triangle, serving ads to consumers on lift TVs and in cinemas and similar public environments.
A sect of Kantar Millward Brown research has centred on this cross-screen triangle, which analyses the brand budget allocation across different screens that best reach audiences. In 2012, the championed strategy was the “6:2:2” ratio, wherein 60 percent of advertising budget was put towards TV, 20 percent went towards online video and 20 percent was put towards lift TV. In 2017, their research showed a shift to a “4:3:3” ratio, with further budget allocation for online video and lift TV. As a testament to its application, brands adopting the 4:3:3 strategy over the last three years have seen 44.6 percent growth in brand value.
While effective reach and influence on mainstream groups in urban environments relies on both traditional and new media, lift media in particular has fresh potential for advertisers, and the numbers don’t lie. According to Nielsen research, consumers spend an average of 24 minutes a day watching ads, with 19 percent of that time delegated to media in lifts.
The new player
Sitting at the centre of this booming field is Focus Media, China’s most prominent digital media network in the sector. The company has become the world’s largest media group focusing on lifts and cinemas, situating their products in media-friendly environments like urban commercial and residential buildings and pre-show cinema ads. Current reach covers 1.5 million terminals in 150 cities, with a daily reach of 200 million viewers.
Keeping methodical in their approach, in five years time the media giant aims to cover 500 million consumers across the middle class through 5 million terminals in 500 cities. In the more recent future, Focus Media is focusing resources on outfitting their products with integrated communication tech like Wi-Fi, iBeacon, facial recognition and online payment systems, already available in tier-one cities like Beijing and Shanghai, and expected to appear in China’s second-tier and third-tier cities in 2018.