The field of digital marketing in China is developing at an impressive speed, gradually evolving from an initial exploration to a mature market. This article will review the development history of digital marketing in China, discuss the current market situation and the challenges facing the industry, with a view to looking forward to the future of this field.
The History of Digital Marketing in China
In the 1990s, with the popularization of the Internet in China, digital marketing emerged in China. In 1999, the establishment of Alibaba created a precedent for marketing and promotion based on the Internet. In 2003, the establishment of Taobao promoted the development of e-commerce. In 2007, China’s digital marketing ushered in the first stage of rapid development, and Internet platform companies such as Baidu and Alibaba began large-scale digital marketing operations.
According to the questmobile report, the scale of China’s digital marketing market will reach 1,789 billion yuan in 2022. Internet giants such as Alibaba and Baidu are currently leaders in digital marketing in China.
In 2022, the State Administration for Market Regulation will issue the “Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Online Marketing (Draft for Comment)” to further regulate online marketing behaviors and protect consumers’ rights and interests. This undoubtedly reflects that the country attaches great importance to the digital marketing industry and has introduced policies to regulate it.
The iiMedia report pointed out that China’s digital marketing industry is currently facing many challenges, including the problem of accurate user portraits, rising labor costs, and unsustainable algorithm effects. This requires digital marketing companies to continue to innovate in order to win in the competition.
Despite a series of challenges, China’s digital marketing is still full of vitality and prospects. Changes in the market and continuous innovation in technology have brought more possibilities for digital marketing. With the vigorous development of China’s digital economy, digital marketing will continue to play an important role in the market, helping companies win traffic from target audiences, market share and user brand recognition.
The Development of Digital Marketing in China
Let’s dig into the future development trend of digital marketing in China from three different aspects: market, technology and ethics.
A. Digital Marketing Market
Let’s first look at how the digital marketing market will influence the future development trend.
1. Generation Z is moving to center stage
As Generation Z gradually grows into an important part of the consumer market, its unique cultural traits and values begin to have a profound impact on the market.
According to the “2020 China Generation Z Consumer Insights Report” by China International Advertising Corporation, Generation Z refers to young people born between 1995 and 2009. They grew up in the era of rapid digital technology development and are digital and open. , Innovative features. The characteristics of this generation will profoundly affect their consumption behavior and purchase decisions.
Logical Adjustment of Digital Marketing: New Strategies for Generation Z
As Generation Z gradually becomes the backbone of the market, the logic of digital marketing must also be adjusted accordingly. This generation acquires and disseminates information in a completely different way from previous generations, such as placing more emphasis on social media and short video platforms. Therefore, digital marketing strategies targeting Gen Z need to pay more attention to creativity, fun and interaction with users. Gen Z is less brand loyal but more receptive to brands that align with their interests and values, so well-targeted marketing content is critical to attracting this target audience.
Elon Musk said that Generation Z is an aborigine in the digital age, and their acceptance and application of technology is more natural. Compared with previous generations, Generation Z pays more attention to self-expression and social interaction, so in digital marketing, brands need to better interact with users to convey empathy and recognition.
The rise of Generation Z presents new challenges and opportunities for digital marketing. Understanding and accurately grasping the characteristics of this generation, and formulating targeted marketing strategies have become the key to a company’s success in gaining a competitive advantage in the market.
B. Diversified Development of Social Media
With the rapid development of information technology, social media has become an indispensable part of people’s life. In China, online social media has occupied a mainstream position and has become an important channel for people to connect, share and communicate.
a, Mainstream social media platforms and user characteristics
China’s online social media market is extremely active, with major platforms including WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Xiaohongshu, and Qzone. These platforms have their own characteristics and cover a wide range of user groups. According to the “Statistical Report on Internet Development in China”, as of June 2021, China’s online social media users have reached 932 million, accounting for 66.2% of the total population. This huge user base provides a huge market potential for digital marketing.
b. Multiculturalism promotes the development of social media diversity
The current cultural atmosphere presents the characteristics of openness, tolerance and diversity, which promotes the development of diversity in social media. Users with different interests, hobbies, and values gather on social media and form numerous niche communities. According to a Xinhua report, the diversity of social media reflects the multiculturalism of contemporary society, as well as the differences in user needs. This makes digital marketing need to target audiences more precisely to meet their diverse needs.
c, the crushing advantage of online social media
d. Adjustments and challenges of social media marketing
Facing the new trend of diversified development of social media, marketing strategies must be adjusted in a timely and targeted manner. Different social media platforms have different user characteristics and usage habits, and targeted marketing content and strategies are the key to success. Compared with traditional media, social media needs to establish interaction with users and provide interesting and valuable content to win users’ attention and trust.
James McIntosh, an international marketing expert, pointed out in an exclusive interview with a marketing magazine that the development speed of social media is astonishing, and companies should make full use of this platform to attract users through creativity and interaction. Chinese entrepreneur Ma Huateng also said that social media will pay more attention to user experience in the future, so digital marketing needs to pay more attention to user needs and create more valuable interactions.
The diversified development of Chinese social media has brought new challenges and opportunities for digital marketing. Enterprises need to have a more keen insight into user needs, provide targeted and interesting marketing content, and establish a close interactive relationship with users. In this diverse social media world, the future of digital marketing will become more colorful.
C. Internet Celebrity Marketing is Booming
With the popularity of the Internet, online communities have gradually become an important place for people to communicate and share, and have also given birth to the emergence of many Internet celebrities.
a. Internet celebrities are community leaders, embodying commercial value
In the online community, Internet celebrities have gradually become representative figures in their respective fields. According to the “2022 Internet Celebrity Development Report”, there are various levels and fields of Internet celebrities, and Internet celebrities in different fields have a wide range of followers in the community. These Internet celebrities not only have their own right to speak, but also have their commercial value, and have become important partners for brand promotion and marketing.
b. Important indicators for online celebrity evaluation
There are multiple metrics to consider when evaluating influencer importance. Starting from multiple dimensions such as the number of fans, interaction frequency, and content quality, it is possible to have a more comprehensive understanding of the influence and audience coverage of Internet celebrities. According to the “2021 Internet Celebrity Influence Index Ranking List”, the influence of Internet celebrities depends not only on the number of fans, but also on their interactive activity in the community and the quality of content creation.
c. Positive changes in online celebrity marketing: cooperation fit and business temperament
In the past, online celebrity marketing was often presented as a business relationship between merchants and online celebrities, but now positive changes have taken place. More and more brands and online celebrities choose to cooperate, and attach importance to the fit of business temperament, business philosophy and values. This cooperation model can not only make brand promotion more naturally integrated into the content of Internet celebrities, but also maintain the characteristics and authenticity of Internet celebrities, and win the recognition of more consumers. This cooperation model can not only enhance the brand image, but also bring more business opportunities for Internet celebrities.
d. The importance of long-term partnerships
Internet celebrity marketing is moving towards a healthy development track, in which long-term partnerships are particularly critical. The long-term cooperation between brands and Internet celebrities not only helps to establish a stable cooperation model, but also promotes interaction and innovation between the two parties. In cooperation, brands and online celebrities can jointly explore more innovative publicity methods to achieve a win-win situation.
The value of Internet celebrities is not only reflected in the number of fans, but also related to their influence, interactive activity and content quality. Cooperative fit and commercial temperament are also pushing online celebrity marketing into a more active stage, and long-term cooperative relationships will be the key to the healthy development of the industry. In the future, with the continuous evolution of digital social networking, influencer marketing will continue to play an important role in the business field.
D. The Way of User Access Has Evolved into a Combination of Multiple Channels + Eyes & Ears
As technology continues to advance, so does the field of digital marketing. From reaching the target audience through a single channel, to a multi-channel marketing strategy, it eventually evolved into a multi-channel + eye-and-ear hybrid marketing.
a, User-friendliness of WeChat App: multi-form switching of content
WeChat App plays an important role in digital marketing, and its constantly updated functions make it easier for users to interact with content. The WeChat App introduces a user-friendly function that allows users to easily switch the form of content, from video to audio, and from text to audio, realizing multi-form content switching. This innovation enables digital marketing to better meet the diverse needs of users.
In digital marketing, the forms of content mainly include video, text, pictures and audio. According to the “2022 Digital Marketing Trend Report”, the share of various content forms is gradually adjusted. Taking video as an example, its visual impact and speed of information transmission make it occupy an important position in digital marketing. However, the share of audio is also increasing, especially in mobile scenarios, users prefer to receive information through hearing.
b, multi-channel + eye-ear strategy for digital marketing
Digital marketing is undergoing a transformation from a single channel to multiple channels, and now it is moving further towards a strategy of multi-channel + eye and ear contact. With the diversification of user contact methods, brands and marketers need to consider how to convey consistent information in multiple channels, while paying attention to the user’s audio-visual experience. The multi-channel + eye-ear strategy can combine video and audio content to enable users to easily obtain information in different scenarios and enhance brand influence.
Digital marketing is developing towards a new trend of multi-channel + eye-and-ear contact. The diverse needs of users have prompted brands and marketers to seek more innovative and more relevant marketing strategies. In the future, digital marketing will continue to actively explore new contact methods to better connect users and achieve marketing goals.
E, Competition for Attention Intensifies
In a digital world, people’s attention is increasingly becoming a scarce and valuable resource. In order to attract the target audience, merchants spare no effort to launch a fierce competition for attention.
a, intense competition for attention
In the digital age, people are exposed to a lot of information and content every day, so their attention has become extremely scarce. In order to attract users’ attention, merchants must design more attractive content, use provocative titles, short videos and other means to stand out in the fierce competition for attention. According to the “Digital Media Usage Report 2022”, people spend an average of more than 6 hours a day on digital devices, which makes the competition for various content more intense.
b, the key role of creativity in attention competition
In the competition for attention, creativity plays a vital role. Creativity is an unconventional way of thinking that can make a brand stand out from the crowd. Through creative expressions, merchants can better arouse the emotional resonance of users, so as to achieve the retention and participation of target audiences. Most users are more interested in creative and interesting content, which also makes creativity have a non-negligible value in digital marketing.
c. Creative marketing becomes a force to inspire resonance
Many well-known companies have successfully captured the attention of users through creative digital marketing practices. When Apple launches new products, it often adopts mysterious and speculative publicity techniques to arouse the curiosity and resonance of users, thus arousing heated discussions and attention. Coca-Cola has also launched the creative advertisement of “Share Happiness”, which has achieved widespread success by establishing an emotional connection with users through emotional resonance.
d. Continuous innovation in creative marketing
With the continuous deepening of digitalization, the competition for attention will become more intense, and the position of creativity in digital marketing will become more prominent. Future creative marketing needs continuous innovation, looking for new ways of expression and content forms to meet the diverse needs of users. The core of creative marketing is to touch the hearts of users, create resonance and leave a deep impression. Creativity can arouse the emotional resonance of users, achieve the retention and interaction of the target audience, and win more attention and recognition for the brand.
F, Business Social Platforms May Generate Again
In August 2023, LinkedIn withdrew from the Chinese market, and the business social networking field of enterprises has once again become the focus of attention. The market’s expectations for new business social networking platforms are still high.
a. Demand for business social platforms
As a leading social networking platform for business, LinkedIn’s exit from the Chinese market has caused shocks in the market. However, the demand for corporate business networking has not disappeared. In fact, with the development of China’s business environment, cooperation and communication between enterprises have become closer. Therefore, the market demand for new business social platforms is still very strong.
b. The distinction between public and private has become the social consensus of the new generation
In Chinese business culture, the boundaries between individuals and businesses used to be blurred. However, with the growth of the new generation, the concept of distinguishing between public and private has gradually become the voice and consensus of the public. People have a clearer understanding of the importance of protecting personal privacy and corporate information, which also promotes the reappearance of corporate business social platforms to a certain extent.
c. Future prospects of business social platforms
The exit of LinkedIn marks the transformation and the arrival of new opportunities in the field of business social networking. The future business social platform needs to better meet the needs of users for privacy protection and information sharing, and at the same time combine the characteristics of Chinese business culture to provide enterprises with efficient and convenient communication and cooperation methods. WeChat Enterprise WeChat is expected to play an important role in this field, and realize wider commercial value by expanding internal collaboration into external business social interaction.
d. Opportunities for Enterprise WeChat
In the current social platform ecology, WeChat has become an indispensable part of people’s lives. As a part of WeChat, Enterprise WeChat provides efficient internal communication and collaboration tools for enterprises. The connection between corporate WeChat accounts makes the communication within the enterprise more convenient. However, this connection also has the potential to further expand into a business social platform. According to the “2022 Digital Social Trends Report”, the penetration rate of WeChat in Chinese society is still growing, which creates favorable conditions for WeChat Enterprise WeChat to further develop into a business social platform.
B. Digital Marketing Technology
In the digital age, the marketing field is ushering in an unprecedented technological revolution. This is also the beauty of our time.
1. Deep intervention of artificial intelligence (AI)
Let’s first look at two well-known AI-involved corporate digital marketing success stories.
Well-known B2B enterprise case: IBM
IBM is a world-renowned technology company with the B2B market as its main target customers. IBM’s Project Watson is an artificial intelligence-based cognitive computing platform that has been successfully applied in the field of digital marketing.
The success of IBM’s Watson in digital marketing lies in its capabilities and the solutions it offers. Watson can analyze large amounts of data, extract valuable insights from it, provide enterprises with deeper market understanding and customer behavior analysis. It can understand customer needs through natural language processing technology and provide personalized marketing suggestions. In addition, Watson can predict market trends through data mining and machine learning, helping companies formulate more precise marketing strategies.
IBM’s Watson helps companies better understand customers in the field of digital marketing, optimize marketing content and strategies, and increase customer engagement and loyalty. By providing personalized marketing recommendations, businesses can communicate more precisely, increasing conversions and sales.
B2C Case Study: Netflix’s Recommendation Algorithm
Netflix is a leading global online streaming service provider with the B2C market as its main target customers. Netflix’s success lies in its personalized recommendation algorithm. Based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, the algorithm analyzes the viewing history, preferences and ratings of users, so as to recommend the most suitable film and television content for each user. This personalized recommendation makes it easier for users to discover new content, increasing user retention and watch time.
Netflix’s personalized recommendation algorithm makes it easier for users to find content of interest, thereby increasing user engagement and loyalty. This is very important for Netflix because user satisfaction directly affects their retention and paid subscriptions. Through this algorithm, Netflix not only improves user retention, but also increases exposure and viewing of new content, further driving its business growth.
With the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the field of digital marketing is also ushering in a profound change. The intervention of AI has greatly improved the efficiency of digital marketing and brought new opportunities and challenges to enterprises.
AI Brings Efficiency Improvement to Digital Marketing
- Traffic analysis: AI tools can quickly process huge data sets to extract insights about user behavior and trends. For example, tools such as Google Analytics help companies understand user interests by analyzing website visit data, thereby optimizing ad targeting and content delivery.
- SEO Optimization: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a critical aspect of digital marketing. AI technology can analyze search engine algorithm changes, predict keyword rankings, and provide optimization suggestions. Tools such as SEMrush use AI to study competitors’ keyword strategies, helping businesses improve search engine visibility.
- Customer experience optimization: AI can understand customers’ needs through natural language processing technology and provide them with a personalized experience. Chatbot is a typical application that can provide instant assistance to customers and improve user experience. Moreover, by analyzing users’ historical interactions, businesses can predict customer behavior and optimize product recommendations and marketing strategies.
In the field of digital marketing, AI tools are widely used and generate significant business value. Google uses AI to analyze users’ search history and interests, and accurately deliver advertising content to potential customers. This personalized advertising strategy improves the click-through rate and conversion rate of advertisements, and brings higher returns to advertisers.
On the topic of AI participating in digital marketing, there are different opinions and controversies in the industry. Positive point of view: Many well-known entrepreneurs and marketing experts believe that AI can help companies better understand customers, optimize marketing strategies, and improve market competitiveness. They believe that AI can provide more accurate data analysis, provide strong support for decision-making, and thus achieve better performance.
Others worry that AI could lead to job losses, especially those closely related to data analysis and customer interaction. In addition, some people are concerned about personal privacy issues, and the intervention of AI may lead to the abuse of personal data.
Despite the controversy, most experts generally agree that the application of AI in digital marketing is an irreversible trend. Reasonable use of AI technology can help companies better adapt to market changes, improve efficiency, and create more value.
2. Computer algorithms promote the development of personalized marketing
In digital marketing activities, the words and deeds of customers reveal a wealth of information, and computer algorithms can accurately outline the portrait of customers. This makes personalized marketing possible like never before. The company uses algorithms to analyze customer needs, and improves customer engagement and response rates by studying user preferences and behaviors and delivering targeted information, creating a unique shopping experience for users.
The use of computer algorithms not only makes personalized marketing inevitable, but also enhances user experience and improves brand loyalty. Only by in-depth understanding of user behavior and needs, can digital marketing be delivered to the target audience more accurately, in order to stand out from the fierce competition.
Technology-Driven Marketing Innovation
C. Digital Marketing Ethics
With the rapid development of digital marketing, ethical and moral issues have become increasingly prominent and have attracted widespread attention from the public.
a. Advertising authenticity and consumer rights
In digital marketing, the authenticity of advertising is paramount. False propaganda will not only damage the rights and interests of consumers, but also damage the reputation of enterprises. According to the “2021 Advertising Industry Survey Report”, false advertising has become one of the most concerned issues for consumers. Digital marketing practitioners should ensure the authenticity of advertising and ensure that consumers can get accurate information to make informed purchasing decisions.
b. Corporate Integrity and Social Responsibility
Digital marketing is not only related to the company’s own interests, but also involves the overall interests of society. Corporate integrity and social responsibility are important components of digital marketing ethics. By communicating honestly and transparently, businesses can earn the trust of consumers. Enterprises should also assume social responsibility and promote sustainable development and social welfare. By emphasizing social responsibility in digital marketing, they have not only won praise from consumers, but also achieved considerable commercial success.
c. Data Security and Ownership
In digital marketing, data plays an important role. However, data security and ownership issues are also of concern. Consumers’ personal data should be fully protected from misuse or disclosure. Digital marketing practitioners need to abide by relevant laws and regulations and take measures to protect consumers’ privacy. More than 80% of digital marketers say data security issues are critical to trust in digital marketing.
d. National key industry support and sustainable development
As an important part of the modern economy, digital marketing has also received the attention of national policies. The government’s support for the digital marketing industry will contribute to the sustainable development of the industry. According to the “2022 Digital Industry Development Plan”, digital marketing is listed as one of the national key industries, which provides more room for innovation and development of the industry.
The ethical and moral issues of digital marketing are a comprehensive topic, covering many aspects such as advertising authenticity, corporate integrity, and data security. On the road of digital marketing, protecting consumer rights, fulfilling social responsibilities, and respecting data security will be the relentless pursuit of the industry. At the same time, the support of national policies has also created favorable conditions for the sustainable development of the digital marketing industry. In the future, digital marketing practitioners should continue to pay attention to ethics, and under the guidance of ethics, promote the innovation, development and prosperity of the industry.
In the rapidly developing digital age, digital marketing, as an important part of the business field, has shown unique business logic in the past, present and future. Interpret the past, gain insight into the present, and look forward to the future. Digital marketing evolves with its inherent business logic, which deserves our careful grasp and preparation for deployment in advance.