Cracking China: The Trade Desk's new ad platform

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 26 November 2018
The Trade Desk AUNZ general manager Mitch Waters

The Trade Desk has revealed a new partnership to provide Australian brands with a more effective platform to engage with consumers in China.

The new strategy includes partnerships with some of China's largest mobile, social and video platforms including Baidu and its streaming service iQIYI, Tencent Social Ads and Youku, which is Alibaba's streaming service.

Overall, mobile accounted for 45% of gross spend on The Trade Desk’s platform for the most recent quarter, highlighting the increasing importance of this channel to global advertisers.

Speaking to AdNews, The Trade Desk ANZ general manager Mitch Waters said the growing interest from Chinese consumers in Australian brands and products has never been higher, however, local brands are still finding it difficult to get themselves on the right platforms.

This is partly due to the The Great Firewall of China, which is a combination of legislative actions and technologies enforced by the country to regulate the Internet domestically. It's led to the blocking of social media and advertising powerhouse Facebook.

"Looking at what works in Australia, in terms of the tried and tested digital advertising, Facebook gets such a big chunk of Australian brands' marketing budgets," Waters said.

"That doesn’t exist in China, and while consumers are able to seek out some of the major brands they know, we will be developing and providing more in-depth market insight."

The new platform, which will allow Australian brands to transact media across the four major digital partners, was designed in collaboration with an engineering team in China.

Waters said this was a major point of difference for The Trade Desk, as it ensures that every element of the platform is designed to be in line with Chinese regulations, as well as being able to deal with the nuances that come from a different culture.

During the first 12 months, the business expects to be dealing with the "low hanging fruit" categories that are most likely to engage with Chinese consumers, including travel, tourism and education, he said.

"Those are the obvious ones, but we expect that a broad number of Australian brands will eventually get on board," Waters said.

"Education is a huge one when you take into account the popularity of the Australian university system in China and the current international student intake we currently have."

The Trade Desk expects Australian brands will become bullish in their approach to Chinese publishers with a vast majority of the middle-class population more interested in direct conversations with brands over simple banner ads.

Waters said this is the result of the overwhelming use of mobile-first platforms such as Weibo, which is one of the largest, and most heavily used, social media platforms in China.

"Having the ability to have a very targeted transparent conversation with the audience of mobile first young adults is incredibly important, especially when we are seeing the largest growth of middle class anywhere in history," he said.

"When you think about those consumers, they are people looking for a car for the first time or a consumer or electronic product like a washing machine or a dryer. This is a customer base that can only continue to grow."

Waters said a big motivation behind the decision to launch the digital buying platform was the trade relationship between the Australian and Chinese governments, which has helped stimulate the local economy through some challenging economic global headwinds.

The Trade Desk will also provide clients with strategic planning but believes that the majority of Australian brands looking to engage with China will already be "up to speed" with key factors, such as mobile optimisation.

"The brands that will be completely ready to undertake entry and are already strategically thinking about how to get it into China would’ve already crossed that bridge, as they are most likely leaders in that space locally."

"It shouldn’t be that much of a hurdle and we are there to ensure that they are ready for everything as soon as they start transacting, rather then them having a campaign running at a suboptimal level and leaving a bad taste in their mouth about the market."

Waters said the new platform won't just be limited to mobile as The Trade Desk is also looking to tap into the developing connected TV market.

Outside of mobile video, this is one of China's fastest-growing means of consuming video on demand, with the connected TV market growing by double digits year-on-year.

As for creating the most effective campaign, Waters said brands should be ready to develop personalised creative assets that fit into China's local marketing strategy, which is based around hyper-targeting.

He added that clients also need to be aware that the entry into China isn't a "flash in the pan" approach.

It's takes time to create brand recognition, as well as a strong foundation of trust for consumers that have more concerns around data privacy.

"We want to build a sustainable Chinese ecosystem through all our global brands and education will play a key role in this during our early testing stages," Waters said.

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