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Nielsen China Forum Go Digital in China
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Nielsen China Forum Go Digital in China

Over half of China’s Internet users regularly blog and uses social media.

Everyone knows that if you want to reach a lot of people fast, going digital is a good bet. But in China, the odds are even better. Boasting the largest Internet community in the world with over 420 million online users, China’s online community has shown steady double-digit user growth rates over the past five years.

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The rapidly increasing growth of online is no surprise. The digital landscape provides a virtual playground of activity as a one-stop shop to satisfy entertainment, information, communication and business needs—all at the touch of our fingertips. In China, users are partial to listening to music, catching up on the latest news, using the Internet as a search tool to research a topic, connecting with friends, family or colleagues through instant messaging and playing enjoying online games and virtual experiences.

The consumer-generated media (CGM) environment is making great strides in China. More than half of all online Chinese users regularly blog and use social media to voice their opinions about entertainment, relationships, sports, politics, technology—you name it. One-third of users partake in online discussion forums and BBS (bulletin board) sites.

Using online services to conduct business transactions is slowly taking shape and presents tremendous opportunity. Only Oone in three Chinese consumers use business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer commerce sites and 30% take advantage of convenient online payment and banking options. Only 15% use the Internet to trade stocks and funds and fewer than 10% book their travel online.

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As consumers take advantage of the many and varied benefits that online provides, they are spending an increasingly significant amount of time behind an electronic device—be it a desktop computer, mobile phone, or personal device. The overwhelming majority of online users—about three-fourths—however, use a desktop as the preferred Internet device in China. Time spent online has grown gradually from 2001 until the middle of 2010 reaching an average of almost 20 hours per week.

Online Advertising Trends

Gaining share of mind continues to fragment in the media world and online advertising is taking an important place at the bargaining table. In fact, in the first three quarters of 2010, online advertising value reached almost 15M RMB—a 21% increase over the same time period in 2009. The advertising cycle shows peaks in the spring, summer, fall and during the Christmas season, but dips during the Chinese Spring Festival also known as Chinese New Year—the longest and most important of Chinese festivities, which always falls between January 21 and February 21.

Online ads for fashion, capturing 19.2% market share in the first nine months of 2010, is the top online advertising activity. Automotive ads follow closely behind with a 17.9% share of market. Ads for retail, computer/electrical and fast-moving consumer goods round out the top five online activities with the greatest market share. On the rise are online ads for manufacturer/wholesale products, community sites and energy/raw materials, which show the greatest year-on-year growth.

Keeping a Pulse

As the online landscape continues to mature and evolve, keeping connected with online audiences is not only critical, it is necessary for survival. As a pioneer in audience measurement business, Nielsen together with China Websites Ranking provides the first China online audience measurement to help navigate the world’s largest Internet community.