Staff Writer
Mar 15, 2018

Influencer marketing makes headway in China

Brands are turning to digital influencers to fuel sales, and navigating the complex, often ambiguous KOL ecosystem is a tall order

Clarence Zheng, CEO at hdtMEDIA
Clarence Zheng, CEO at hdtMEDIA

On the back of their new product, hdtKOL, hdtMEDIA has recently turned their robust set of business solutions towards influencer marketing. Following some digging, hdtMEDIA found that post-nineties consumers looked for “less serious” content, and thus are drawn more to influencers for quick content fixes. They also discovered that in 2017, brands were willing to use and increase their PR budgets for influencer marketing, pushing out a record number of KOL driven campaigns. 

The hdtKOL platform houses hundreds of thousands of different KOL accounts, including multi-channel influencers across WeChat, Weibo and short video platforms. At its core, it aims to meet the challenge of advertisers trying to free themselves from formal media. The solution brings with it cost comparisons and unique small data revealing the behaviour of each KOL’s fans, allowing advertisers to keep an eye on real-time audience data as campaigns are executed. 

Operating as hdt Holdings since 1999, the company has grown into a major player in China’s ad tech space, with a client roster including GM, Pepsico, Nike and Intel, among others. Clarence Zheng, CEO of hdtMEDIA, has witnessed the rise of mobile marketing, blockchain, the sharing economy and now China’s booming KOL industry. “There are a high number of KOLs in China, who pay more attention to their content,” says Zheng. “Their focus and channel may change rapidly over a month, so lifecycles tend to be short.” These quick shifts also affect the relevancy of each KOL’s content, and hdtMEDIA has made a habit of pairing the right influencer with the right audience. This requires both constant attention to the market landscape and an understanding of nuanced Chinese demographics.

This understanding also comes into play when helping brands localise in China. Where previously they may have only required joint ventures, brands now need to look deeper into Chinese consumer groups to discern strategies. 

A constant innovator, Zheng keeps a close eye on shifts in technology and has previously developed a DSP for programmatic buying alongside a wide mix of marketing-focused products. With its heritage in analytics, hdtMEDIA as a whole has never been a stranger to data technology, and currently provides a variety of solutions to help advertisers improve their efficiency. “Whether it is KOLs, artificial intelligence, or the emergence of new forms of entertainment, these are all opportunities. It’s our job to seize these new hot spots, and figure out what sort of spark we can ignite between companies, advertisers and consumers.”

The cross-screen experience 

Furthering the impact of influencer marketing, Zheng predicts that it won’t be long until screens are fully cross-functional, finding their way into homes, appliances, transportation and the like, and eventually coalescing into entirely new products and influencer communication portals. Until then, hdtMEDIA is focused on using smart technology to differentiate between screens when placing ads, preventing repetition and ad fatigue. With a full suite of solutions in now in tow, expect a busy 2018 for hdtMEDIA and KOLs alike.

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