For mobile developers, the potential of the Chinese market has long been frustratingly out of reach. According to Emarketer, there are 600m smartphone users (a number expected to grow by 50m annually) over a total population of 1.3bn, meaning market saturation is a long way off. Yet, looking at the iOS charts on our apptrace store database, only 20 percent of China’s top performing apps originate from outside of the country.
But that’s not for a lack of interest. To get a closer picture, we surveyed over 1,500 mobile marketers around the world about how they felt about expanding their business in China. From the half of respondents who said their business could be marketed in China, around 80 % stated they were restricted from scaling as much in the country as they wanted. Almost all of our respondents agreed on three main challenges: localization, improving engagement among Chinese users (always a mobile marketers’ main challenge), and problems with porting their technology stack to China.
A major challenge comes from China’s web barrier, known colloquially as the Great Firewall. What started out as a list of blocked websites has morphed into a series of firewalls and proxy servers that filter out banned keywords, stop traffic to specific blacklisted pages, control social networking sites, and block access to VPNs. These create a user experience that can be frustratingly opaque (for example, it can be impossible to tell whether you’re experiencing an actual network connectivity problem or are trying to access a banned site).
Crucially for mobile marketers in the West, these Internet restrictions result not only in significant issues accessing mobile app content for users, but also in poor reliability of the software tools marketers use to operate their businesses.
As a mobile measurement platform, we took a specific interest in ad delivery. We then benchmarked how long you’d have to wait after clicking an ad in China to be redirected to the App Store or a landing page. This showed that users clicking on ads would have to wait almost 3 seconds on average before reaching app stores, and around 15 % of users would never reach the app store at all. As we know, users are impatient. A 3-second wait for an ad to redirect will result in exponentially lower conversion rates.
Low retention rates also reflect the issues in marketing to users in China. This has led to low retention rates. In the mobile ecosphere, retention is considered by many as the top metric for long-term success. China’s slow loading times and poor in-app performance mean that almost no apps (no matter the vertical) retain more than a quarter of their users after the first week. Overall, a far greater percentage of Chinese smartphone (37 percent) users report opening an app only once (meaning a single app open) than users in the United States, where half of all users report opening an app at least 11 times.
So how can these issues be resolved?
After operating offices in Shanghai and Beijing over the last two years, we’ve at least worked out a resolution for Adjust’s platform. We’ve been able to bring latencies down to 200 milliseconds with a success rate of 100 percent – five times faster than the status quo internationally and 25 % faster than local solutions. This hinges on a direct connection between our German datacenter and a partner inside the country.
We reasonably expect an increase in the interest in China among international marketers. Without a significant change in policy, though, the Internet restrictions are not going anywhere. With some effort, though, platforms and service providers can bridge this gap and help marketers access the great market in the Far East.adjust
A mobile app tracking and analytics company based in Berlin and San Francisco, adjust provides app businesses with a comprehensive business intelligence platform. As an official Facebook Mobile Measurement Partner, adjust is integrated with over 200 other major networks and partners worldwide. With the broadest network and market coverage, adjust ensures that marketers and publishers know exactly how their app is performing anywhere in the world. adjust is also the only mobile analytics company to meet stringent EU privacy compliance standards. adjust’s streamlined dashboards display understandable and actionable metrics. These insights allow publishers to quickly and correctly attribute the most effective marketing practices with the highest ROI to specific campaigns, networks and creative assets. Clients include some of the world’s largest brands in Asia, the EU and the Americas, such as Baidu, Deutsche Telekom, Universal Music and Viacom. adjust delivers app analytics to the world’s largest advertising and media agencies including Vivaki, Publicis and GroupM.