Last month we kicked off our first ever Xplore China 2019 seminar in Seoul, South Korea. Our idea was to create a series of events under the “Xplore China 2019” banner that will help local companies in markets around the world that might be struggling to get traction in the Chinese market.
Our first event was aimed at Korean companies entering the Chinese market for the first time as well as those looking to optimize the performance of existing apps. The seminar looked to examine trends in the Korean app market, how to select the right media channels for your campaign, and the right ways to measure campaign performance.
(Junsung Park, Korea Country Manager from Mobvista)
Our panel of experts consisted of Heo Jung-pil, New Business Development manager at Tencent, Charlie Moon, Country Manager at AppsFlyer, Areum An, Sales Manager at Mobvista and Boo Kim, Partner at Shinsegye DutyFree. The host and panel moderator was Junsung Park, Mobvista’s Country Manager for the Korean market.
What follows are the key takeaways from the seminar that should be of help to any company looking to market their app to Chinese consumers.
(Heo Jung-pil, Tencent International business manager)
Tip 1: To effectively reach Chinese consumers you need to understand the unique media landscape
Perhaps the most common question from our attendees was about what media channel is the most effective.
There is not one simple answer, but the starting point is to make sure you are aware of the existing local channels in China. Chinese consumers are exposed to far more by Chinese-origin services than they are to global alternatives. Chinese internet users search the web using Baidu, shop on Alibaba and use Weibo to discuss current events because Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter are not available in China.
Tencent is perhaps the best known and biggest digital media company. Its services span messenger apps, social media services, and entertainment news and content through its WeChat, Tencent Video, and Tencent QQ platforms.
This makes the market difficult to penetrate for western companies where a Chinese alternative already has the biggest share of the market. This means that there is no simple ‘global’ approach that includes China, so companies need to take an approach that’s both global and local.
At the end of the discussion by the guest speakers, the key takeaway was the need to leverage Chinese local channels effectively if companies really want to make inroads into the Chinese app market.
(Areum An, Korea sales manager from Mobvista)
Tip 2: Market your app by targeting specific consumer interests and characteristics
With more than 1.4 billion people, China is the most populous nation in the world. Of that 1.4 billion, an estimated 600 million people play mobile games.
The sheer scale of the potential audience, therefore, creates its own challenges. Within China, there are big geographical and demographic differences that can affect marketing campaigns. The way to address this is to look at ‘hyperlocal’ targeting.
For example, the city of Shanghai is a population of more than 24 million. Using text keywords like ‘Shanghai popular games’ as part of your campaign targeting is a simple but effective way to promote your app to a very specific audience. Similarly, search terms like ‘iOS popular games’ means you can target only iOS users in a particular territory.
Building your campaign with different variations on this hyperlocal and hyper-targeted approach can deliver much better results than a much broader, China-wide approach.
Another way to harness this kind of targeting is by using direct incentive offers – such as coupons, discounts, and bonus points. It can be far more economical to combine these kinds of incentives with very focused targeting than to try and advertise to a broader audience that will include lots of consumers for whom the campaign won’t be relevant.
As Junsung Park summarised, “China is a market of many differences, which means it is also one of the big opportunities if consumer preferences and habits can be accurately understood and targeted.”
Tip 3: Accurate tracking and measurement is key
All marketing campaigns need to be correctly tracked, measured and evaluated. But once again, doing this in China comes with its own complexities. As with many other markets, some players in the app ecosystem see the popularity of the Chinese market as a way to make easy money by cheating.
For example, in Chinese app stores, a technique called ‘store hijacking’ is a common tactic. This is where device manufacturers redirect clicks meant for a 3rd party app store to their own app stores, as a way to boost engagement and revenues.
(Panel discussion joined by Mobvista, Tencent, Appsflyer, Shinsegae DF)
To prevent this, the panel suggested that app companies should consider using a single, reputable partner to plan and execute a campaign, as this removes the risk of fake or fraudulent installs, and would also improve the overall efficiency in advertising execution because the performance measurement would be more accurate.
Kim Boo of Shinsegye DF explained that her company offered customer targeting for ad execution by region, gender, age and operating system, making tracking and CPA measurement a lot more efficient.
At the end of the seminar, all of the panels summarised what they thought were the key success factors for Korean app companies targeting China.
Junsung Park or Mobvista closed the event with a positive message: “I believe that the caliber of Korean marketers targeting China has increased, and the kinds of tactics and information which were exchanged today are essential tips for successful entry into the Chinese market. I hope we will see you all again at the next Xplore China event!”
Find out more about Xplore China and our upcoming events here.