The State of Programmatic Advertising in China

Programmatic in China

Programmatic advertising continues to progress globally. In 2019, around 65% of global digital ad spend is expected to be traded programmatically, and advertisers will spend $84 billion on programmatic worldwide. The US market continues to be the front-runner in global programmatic ad spending, with $40.6 billion spent during the previous year. Second is China, which spent significantly less: $7.9 billion. But that figure doesn’t tell the entire story of China’s development as a programmatic market. 

China has shown significant growth given the landscape of the dynamic industry. eMarketers states that China is expected to see an increase of more than 33% in programmatic ad spending, reaching $30.8 billion by the end of 2019. The country has 788 million users who access the internet through their mobile phone, a 98.3% penetration rate among all of their internet users. This is why China has the biggest mobile app sales worldwide.

China’s Programmatic Landscape

China is becoming one of the hubs of programmatic advertising. Several Chinese investors have acquired US ad tech firms and western countries have started building operations in the country as well. 

Programmatic advertising in China operates differently than in western countries. While American ad tech companies handle either the demand-side platforms (DSPs) or the supply-side platforms (SSPs), Chinese ad tech players serve both sides. Local DSPs own ad networks, while publishers build their own SSPs. Check out this article by our partner AppsFlyer to learn more about the programmatic landscape of China.

China is known for the strict internet censorship policy which has limited the Chinese access to several major platforms, including Facebook and Google. The country’s programmatic advertising marketplace is dominated by local players—Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, commonly known as BAT, take up 90% of the market

Steps Towards Programmatic

Don’t lose hope! It’s still possible to penetrate this controlled market. There are several approaches that might help you get around programmatic advertising in China.

  • Make It Mobile
As mentioned above, 98.3% of digital users access information through their mobile phones. Be sure that your key targets are mobile video, and in-app inventory for your campaigns. 
  • Prefer Premium
High quality inventory ensures your ad will acquire more engagement. Look into working with China’s big players: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. 
  • Protect Your Brand
Programmatic advertising in China isn’t as advanced as other parts of the world yet. Consider partnering with a world-class third party data and measurement company to ensure a brand-safe landscape. 

Creative Localization 

China is a predominantly local speaking country and the majority of the population only speaks Chinese. 

Creative localization is relevant when tapping into new markets in pursuit of a wider audience reach. Altering your message based on the target users’ geographic locations will increase your chances of getting audiences’ attention and will make it seem like they are talking to someone who knows them well and can be trusted.

Aarki designs creative variants from the ground up with localization in mind. Mobile ads have very little room for graphics and text, which means every letter counts. Below are samples of mobile video ads that have been localized into Chinese to cater to that geographical market.

Localized Gaming App
Localized non gaming

China’s Promising Programmatic Future

Programmatic advertising isn’t going to die down anytime soon, especially with the world’s increasingly digital lifestyle. China is definitely catching up to be number one in programmatic ad spending. Though it seems like an impenetrable market, there are ways to take your campaign global -- reaching higher engagements with one of the biggest markets in the world. 


Topics: Industry News