One consequence of having the world’s largest national mobile market, with 850 million users and counting? The potential to make a killing out of mobile advertising, too. That, at least, is the hope of Central Chinese Television and 3rd Space: China’s national broadcaster and the mobile video marketing company have launched a partnership to serve ads across CCTV’s mobile properties, covering its WAP portal and iPhone app, as well as upcoming apps for other mobile platforms.
The deal includes traditional display banner and pre-, mid- and post- roll video ads, and 3rd space will also create branded microsites within CCTV’s properties, which focus on news and sport as well as other content. Richard Newsome, commercial director for 3rd Space, says that his company invested in the platform that CCTV uses, and gets a revenue share of all the ads, although he would not reveal the percentage.
The deal brings to light several important bigger trends for mobile services in China:
WAP still strong in China. Unlike the BBC, CCTV won’t be closing down its WAP portal for lack of use anytime soon. It currently gets 10 million unique visitors per day for the portal. “It’s still a very big feature phone community,” says Newsome. He says that smartphones are on the rise, too, with the Chinese ministry of information projecting that 150 million smartphones will be sold this year in the country. Cheaper, sub-$100 “smartphones” built on open platforms like Android will also contribute to that growth.
Apps are the future. Because of this smartphone growth, Newsome believes that apps will probably become the dominant way to access mobile content in the country in the medium term. CCTV’s iPhone app has had 3 million downloads, and there are more apps on the horizon: First up is an Android app. “There will be a Symbian app as well, that’s coming after the Android one,” says Newsome. “Symbian is the dominant OS but we feel that is changing reasonably quickly to Android and iPhone. Android particularly.”
China’s mobile users are more internet-friendly than their Western counterparts. 38 percent of Chinese mobile subscribers use their phones to access the internet, compared to 27 percent in the U.S. according to Nielsen. That proportion, combined with the sheer number of users, will make China into a very big mobile ad opportunity indeed: Juniper Research has forecast that China and the Far East will remain the largest regional market for mobile ad spend with revenues reaching more than $2.1 billion by 2012.
It’s not just about Chinese, national brands. Newsome says that CCTV hopes that this will be another example of bringing in non-Chinese content into the national sphere: “Ads will be dual language, English and simple Chinese Mandarin. Part of CCTV’s objective is to encourage the use of people looking at English language.” He points out though that advertising will primarily be in Chinese with the option to view them in English.
No advertisers have yet been announced for the platform, which goes live this week. Newsome says brands are likely to be confirmed later in the week.