Online Video Captures a Vast Audience in China :eMarketer

China has more than 500 million internet users, eMarketer estimates, and according to iResearch Consulting Group, watching video is their No. 1 online activity in terms of total time spent. Internet users in China watched an aggregate of 1.67 billion hours of online video in February 2012 alone.

The appetite for online video may be broad in China, but users still have their preferences and demographic characteristics, according to a new eMarketer report, “Online Video Viewers in China: A User Portrait.”

Government efforts to restrict various types of television programming have helped drive viewers to online video. Last year, caps were placed on the number of “entertainment” programs television stations could show. This year, the government followed up with limits on foreign programming; there is even a ban on shows involving time travel.

As a result, “consumers [in China] go online because there’s nowhere else for them to get that type of content,” said Jessica Kendall, head of digital strategy at Shanghai-based media buying and planning firm ZenithOptimedia.

What makes these video viewers in China important to marketers is not only their avid viewing, but also their attitude toward to online video ads. Compared to their jaded counterparts in Western countries, one distinguishing characteristic of online video viewers in China is their openness and receptivity to video advertising.

Data from DCCI showed significant activity among online video viewers subsequent to watching a video ad.

DCCI research also noted increased preference and favorable impressions for advertised brands after seeing online video ads. For example, after watching online video ads on a PC and a tablet, 28% of online video viewers said their preference for the brand grew.

While internet users in China are highly engaged by online video—and highly receptive to the ads that go along with those videos—multinational marketers must still bear in mind the nuances of the Chinese viewer, and orient campaigns to the local audience.

“What multinational marketers aren’t doing well here is creating content and experiences for consumers that are specific to the Chinese experience,” said ZenithOptimedia’s Kendall.


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