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China International Advertising Festival (CIAF)

Last week I attended the Belt and Road Advertising Conference in Harbin, China. Leading Chinese brands and officials came together with international representatives – including a UK delegation led by the IPA – to discuss how Chinese companies can work most effectively in other markets and strengthen ties in Europe and beyond.

I spoke on a panel entitled “Global New Media Developments” and was fortunate to be part of a lively discussion on the future opportunities for Chinese brands in different markets.

Chinese e- and m- commerce brands are often challenged by the complexities of accessing European markets. To get scale they traditionally view Europe as a single entity, but then find difficulties with the myriad of ways media is traded in different countries – let alone the cultural and linguistic nuances.

Their solution is often to look to digital solutions that can be deployed from China, which have a unified system of management and optimisation across all countries. Whilst these solutions can build fantastic acquisition programmes, they struggle to unlock engagement from higher up the funnel and drive scale. To do this offline media, particularly trusted broadcast media, is necessary to make an impact. But it needs to be done without losing the digital media advantages– activity must be performance-focused, measurable and optimisable across the whole continent.

It’s an interesting challenge that The Specialist Works have previously solved by utilising dynamic, borderless TV campaigns – fully trackable through our AV analytics platform and optimised by our London-based team and their unique buying methodology and trading ability. Interestingly, we discovered a further opportunity in our BRAC panel, for Chinese brands to form more meaningful and longer lasting partnerships with publishers throughout Europe.

There is a real perception from Chinese advertisers that print is dead, and I think that has stopped them considering publishers who have managed to transcend the print medium with successful online reach (especially subscription publications). Partnerships with key publishers that span multiple European countries can be extremely powerful and are probably being overlooked as a way of generating impactful reach. There are real opportunities for European media brands to support the growth of Chinese brands into Europe through the Belt and Road initiative – if they can come up with the correct partnership propositions. These should be based on affinity with a trans-European audience group and have a measurable performance element.