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Advertising in China - statistics & facts

Advertising is a billion business in China. As the second-largest market in the global advertising after the United States, China was expected to generate over 16 billion U.S dollars of ad spending between 2018 and 2021. While traditional printing and broadcasting advertising channels have been generally shrinking, outdoor and internet ads have been experiencing exponential growth. The expansion is mainly driven by rapid technological advancement and a mobile-savvy population in the country.

Traditional advertising

Advertisers in China has reduced ad spending on traditional media in recent years. This decline is particularly distinct in newspaper advertising. Between 2013 and 2019, newspaper ad revenue fell from 42.5 billion yuan to below seven billion yuan. Magazine advertising is also on the wane. In comparison, traditional broadcast advertising still maintains a considerable market share. Television has been the most favorable advertising medium, especially among food and beverage brands.

OOH advertising

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising, particularly subway ads, is an effective offline-to-online (O2O) marketing medium. The metro advertisements in China often include QR codes, which direct consumers to the brand’s Wechat page. Another common advertising format in subways in China: zoetrope, a digital imaging system installed in metro tunnels. Passengers can see a series of moving images inside the train on the window, which looks like a 15-second video. With these technology changes, OOH ad spending would very likely surpass 70 billion yuan in China by 2021 .

Online advertising

In a country with the largest online community in the world, the internet has gained a higher market share in the Chinese ad market. E-commerce, search engines, and social media advertising have been thriving. In 2019, advertisers spent about 65 billion U.S dollars on mobile ads in China. WeChat, the most popular app in the country, plays a major role in brand promotion. Its Mini Programs provide advanced features to consumers, such as e-commerce and task management. With its significant market penetration and conversion rates, WeChat would probably remain as the most important channel for online advertising in the next few years. However, it is worth noting that ad frauds are more prevalent in China than other countries. In 2019, almost 32 percent of the online ad traffic in China was fake or invalid. Industry reports have shown that over 80 percent of the global fraudulent inventory came from China, costing a loss of 18.7 billion U.S. dollars for advertisers in 2019.

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Advertising in China

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