In June 2021, China officially passed one billion internet users, with 71.6% of its population connected to the internet, according to the 48th Statistical Report on Internet Development in China.

For would-be advertisers, this is an immense potential market, and programmatic advertising offers a flexible, efficient, scalable and targeted way to reach these consumers. However, newcomers to the Chinese market who are used to the western programmatic landscape often find themselves flummoxed, not recognising any of the players in the ecosystem and unsure of how to navigate the space.

Some elements of the Chinese programmatic landscape are very different, but many others are surprisingly similar. The landscape is also undergoing a period of change, as regulatory pressure prompts tech platforms to open up and become more interoperable, and new privacy legislation presents a new set of considerations for companies who want to collect customer data.

There’s never been a better time to branch into programmatic advertising in China, but it’s important for marketers from outside of China to do their research and familiarise themselves with the region’s distinctive characteristics.

To learn more, I spoke to two industry experts who are experienced at bridging the gap between the western and Chinese programmatic markets: Alex Deats, EVP, China at MiQ, a programmatic media partner for agencies and brands; and David Nottingham, General Manager, Europe at iPinYou, one of MiQ’s demand-side partners in China. We discussed what makes China’s programmatic market different from the rest of the world, as well as its areas of overlap; how the landscape has been changing in the past year; and what advice they would give to marketers who are navigating programmatic in China for the first time.

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