SHANGHAI (AdAgeChina.com) -- What are the top digital media trends coming to China next year? Here are five to watch, according to Jit Hoong Ng, the Shanghai-based managing director of Omnicom Group's Tribal DDB Worldwide.
1. Apple iPhone Apps
The Apple iPhone finally landed in China this year. It doesn't have wi-fi and sales are exclusive to one mobile operator, China Unicom, although there have been discussions going on to expand the network.
Limitations aside, one of the most successful components for the iPhone in China, like in other markets, will be the development of applications.
The demand for Chinese apps is going to be phenomenal, so new companies will mushroom to build Chinese-language Apple iPhone apps, and not just for iPhones either.
Marketers need to start developing their own apps for China. Successful ones will be fun for individuals and useful for communities. In other countries, we've seen branded utility as a key growth area for popular apps, while China's digital industry continues to be based on interactivity.
2. Online Games Will Continue to Grow
China is home to the world's largest online gaming community with 40 million active gamers, worth $3 billion. About 60% of Tencent's QQ.com revenue, for example, now comes from games and chatting. Intensely popular, the gaming world is largely split into two areas.
While the heavy gamers remain highly serious and addicted to games, we've begun to see another emerging, and even larger, market -- casual gamers who are into social networking. They visit gaming sites during their lunch break for a shoot-out, for instance, or for a fun break at night or on weekends. This changing demographic is opening a wider opportunity for marketers who should definitely look into gaming as an area of growth potential for communicating their brands.
3. Mobile Social Networking
Let's face it, social networking in China is huge. According to research by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), by the end of 2009, the number of Chinese online social media users will reach 124 million. Every social media user owns on average 2.78 social media accounts. The top five social networking sites (SNS) according to CNNIC are: QQ Alumni, Renren, Sina Space, 51.com and Kaixin001.
China has already embraced mobile social networking more quickly than the West, thanks to better mobile networks and data pricing. Chinese netizens use them to update their status and message friends on the go. It's a new era in how we communicate with each other and also how brands talk to consumers. With mobile social networking growing at a staggering pace, does it make sense for brands to jump onto it immediately? Absolutely.
4. The Shanghai World Expo
Digital activation is not new to China, but it will be especially interesting next year because of the World Expo Shanghai 2010. Many countries and companies are venturing into new technologies, and those technologies will be showcased in Expo pavilions. Keep an eye out for the American and Belgian pavilions, in particular. Beyond the Expo in Shanghai, however, online media has become a hunting ground for what's cool offline. Imagine the opportunity to reel reality and online closer together via on-ground digital activities. That would generate buzz and also create conversations on the internet.
5. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery, thereby creating a mixed reality. I firmly believe technologies such as augmented reality will take a further leap in 2010, which will allow more exciting creativity and breakthrough campaigns.
Another example is the 3D motion camera, normally used in movies and now extended to the internet. These cameras translate movements into onscreen play, without even holding a remote or device in your hand and can recognize facial and speech movements that allow a more personalized experience with the gaming console.
In 2009, we saw new use of augmented reality in marketing campaigns such as one for Philips Lighting. In 2010, I would be very keen to see how that evolves into mobile media.
Jit Hoong Ng is the managing director of Omnicom Group's Tribal DDB Worldwide in Shanghai.
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