Staff Writer
Aug 15, 2017

The Xiaomi data pivot

The IoT innovator enters the martech field with its new data platform drawing on over 200 million customer database.

The Xiaomi data pivot

Xiaomi has a portfolio of innovation and leading design that spans handheld devices, home appliances and televisions. It adds to this a new martech solution: an advertising platform, Xiaomi Marketing, that taps into a cross-platform ecosystem based off its own customer data.

Xiaomi serves over 200 million users worldwide through 21 built-in apps with numerous ad slots on its mobile devices and other Internet of Things (IoT) appliances. A brand-marketing expert in its own right, the company now opens up its data ecosystem to other brands in the form of a marketing platform that creates a closed-loop system with deployment, tracking and feedback on a vertically integrated hardware-software service.

Although best known for its groundbreaking mobile phones, Xiaomi’s first product was actually the Android-based firmware, MIUI. Today, MIUI is preloaded in connected Xiaomi devices and compatible with more than 100 Android phone models, supporting 31 languages and operating in 112 countries.

Based off MIUI, but with advertising analytics capabilities, Xiaomi Marketing provides ad distribution, marketing and branding services for advertisers to reach audiences through Xiaomi’s app store, news app, theme market and other Xiaomi-backed apps. The ads also reach users across various devices from its smartphones, tablets and even the newly launched smart TV.

“Advertisers have been moving quickly from basic to intelligent marketing solutions, and are spending more on integrated advertising services to make advertising a contextual experience across the right channels,” says Lynn King, Xiaomi MIUI ad and sales vice-president, who leads a team of marketers on the new service. “An integrated content marketing platform with data-driven intelligence and a broad user base is the martech staple for brands to deliver optimised customer experiences.

“On the MIUI platform, we now have the capability and capacity to help businesses and brands achieve a closed-loop marketing practice.”

Future data streams

Owning the upstream data generators in both hardware and software, Xiaomi is able to collect data from numerous sources within its own system and then analyse the customers’ needs from these big data sources. This clearly sets the company apart from other martech competitors.

Not only does it collect data 24-7 from the hardware and firmware on its devices, it has a sharp ability to identify different marketing scenarios. Xiaomi hardware has sensors, such as gyroscopes, GPS and barometers, which can be stacked to identify more accurately marketing scenarios within consumers’ lifestyles, including geolocation and other information as they engage in sports and other activities. With more IoT devices expected to come online—last year, Xiaomi released a web-linked rice-cooker—the picture of the consumer lifestyle will start to take on more definition.

Xiaomi also announced the launch of its Android-based 4K smart TV at the CES conference in January, continuing to build on its lead in data collection. King sees OTT as one of the most important trends in mobile marketing, as OTT content has been expanded to include communications services.

The new model is expected to deliver an extraordinary home entertainment experience for its customers—its integrated solution with marketing opportunities, however, will be able to deliver personalised content and targeted advertising experiences for brands and businesses.

Xiaomi OTT serves 16.5 million families, with over 70 percent of them having a monthly income of more than Rmb16,000 (US$2,400), and mainly based in second-tier cities. These families watch over 64 million videos a day.

Another data growth area Xiaomi is keeping an eye on is Artificial Intelligence. A key driver of technology growth, AI has already significantly impacted the marketing landscape. In response to China’s rapid and concentrated growth in AI expertise, King points out that all three drivers for the future of mobile marketing—native content marketing, experimental marketing and intelligent marketing—will all be affected by AI.

Xiaomi’s Internet of Things ecosystem creates a high-definition view of consumers’ lifestyles

Content exposures

Content will need to serve a higher purpose. It needs to accomplish something more than just raising general awareness, says King. Marketers are on an upward production cycle for content—the amount of content online is constantly increasing—but audience consumption growth rates remain consistent. The role of native, says King, in content marketing is to amplify the reach of the content and better engage the audience.

In other words, Xiaomi aims to first protect the user experience, ensuring that users are not disturbed as they are immersed in content.King introduces two key marketing ideas that drive Xiaomi Marketing. Experimental marketing develops scenarios to create a closer bond between the brands and their customers. On the other side, it helps consumers experience the brand authentically. While intelligent marketing ensures the right content is delivered to the right audiences at the right time through the right channels.

Moving to the future, according to King, marketers should choose the right mix of marketing technologies and make the best use of them.

People-driven engagement

King believes the deployment of an intelligent advertising platform such as Xiaomi’s will help businesses expand customer reach, deepen customer engagement and enhance customer experiences, which will ultimately increase brand awareness and drive sales.

King notes that the traditional marketing techniques of pushing product information to mass audiences are now ineffectual.

“Customer engagement and interaction is the key.” It is important, she says, for marketers to identify and cultivate communities for their brands, and interact with members of the communities.

King cites Xiaomi’s MIUI Bulletin Board System as an example: Xiaomi has differentiated itself in each stage of customer journey leading to a high level of customer engagement. The brand has cultivated a highly engaged forum where Mi-fans can interact with each other and the company. 

The introduction of this new platform to the Xiaomi portfolio also proves that the company’s real innovation comes from its business model and intelligence, content marketing and data analysis capabilities. And now brands can easily tap into that as a service.

The power of interactive marketing

With nearly two decades of experiences in the internet and advertising industry, Lynn King has received numerous awards in the advertising and marketing industry. These include “Pioneer of New Decade China Marketing Communication Award” from the China Advertiser Summit, and “Most Enterprising Women in Network Marketing of the Year” from Golden Mouse International Digital Marketing Festival. Her advice to marketers is that they have to listen to and understand customers’ needs. King believes that treating customers as friends means more than good marketing. “Online platforms are a good place for communicating and interacting with customers, thanks to the internet technology. Brands and marketers should make use of the online space to create communities and communicate with both existing and potential customers.”

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