Staff Writer
Dec 17, 2019

KOLs, short videos & AI: what Chinese marketers are investing in

Chinese advertisers are keen to make use of KOL and short video marketing to engage but also AI marketing to retain users and consumers, suggests the China Digital Marketing Trends 2020 report by Miaozhen Systems, AdMaster and GDMS.

KOL (and KOC) marketing is a $9-billion-dollar industry in China. In 2020, 63% of advertisers expect to invest in KOL marketing, on par with 2019 numbers.
KOL (and KOC) marketing is a $9-billion-dollar industry in China. In 2020, 63% of advertisers expect to invest in KOL marketing, on par with 2019 numbers.
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Anyone who has worked in China or with Chinese brands and consumers will know it is a fast-changing market. A payment method that was popular two years ago mightn’t be ‘hot’ anymore, and a new social media platform might quickly finds itself obsolete if it doesn’t continuously engage and re-engage with its userseven as it has built a sizable database.

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s time to look ahead to predictions for the marketing and advertising industry in the new year. We comb through the China Digital Marketing Trends 2020 report to find out. Jointly created by Miaozhen Systems, AdMaster and GDMS, the report surveyed advertisers, agencies, publishers, tech marketers and companies for a comprehensive overview of where the marketing is heading in 2020. So, what is upand what is down?

For a first, advertisers are still optimistic about the ROI on digitalalbeit more cautiously than a year ago. Overall, advertisers expect to up their 2020 digital marketing spend by 14%, 6% less than 2019. There is laser-focus on social marketing, with 70% of advertisers saying they’d up their spend. Meanwhile, 62% wants to build and secure data pools, concerned no doubt, by the seeming ease with which one gains but also loses users and consumers in China. Video marketing and social retail areas expectedstill key concerns.

Digital marketing budgets is expected to enjoy a 14% growth in 2020

Generally, investments are moving away from PC or desktop to mobile. When it comes to PC, investments in social platforms are expected to overtake that in SEOs, with 57% of advertisers expected to pump more money into the former, compared to 2019’s 49%.

When it comes to mobile, investments are mainly on social media and  video platforms, with 68% of advertisers planning to invest heavily in short videos, compared with 16% who are expected to invest in its long-form counterpart.

It comes as no surprise that social media and video marketing will become more and more popular in a mobile-first country

Advertisers are expected to up their spend on New TV, more commonly known as Smart TV, including OTT TV, DTV, IPTV,  and other new technologies, including IoT, VR and AR by 21% and 17% respectively.

The study also reveals that 71% of advertisers are planning to up their social marketing spend, 6% more than the 65% who are expected to up their digital marketing spend.

Yet, the market is also slowing down, with 18% saying they’re planning to up their social marketing spend by at least 30% in 2020, compared to 28% in 2019.

There is one industry however, that doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. KOL (and KOC) marketing is a $9-billion-dollar industry in China. In 2020, 63% of advertisers expect to invest in KOL marketing, on par with 2019 numbers. Investments are also shifting from company WeChat accounts to short videos and live-streaming.

KOL marketing is expected to stay a key investment area for those operating in China

Taking a deeper dive into content marketing, we find that 53% of advertisers are planning to up their investment in self-produced and micro movies--in part to increasingly busier and hyper-segmented lives, in part to ever faster internet speeds. What’s noteworthy is that a sizable 26% are expected to increase spend in sports streaming in 2020, though it remains to be seen if that’s in response to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics or a general spike in interest in sports streaming. It might also be interesting to note that digital marketers are less keen on micro movies and more on variety shows, games and drama series.

When it comes to digital tech, the tools and tech that advertisers are most keen on investing inmarketing AI, marketing data platform and automated marketingall point to a desire to not only target the right audience in a one-off manner but also map the customers’ journeys in order to come to a fuller understanding of who their customers are.

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