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XploreChina: Understanding the World’s Largest Mobile Market

On our latest XploreChina webinar featuring experts from Tenjin, Ocean Engine, and TapNation, we discussed everything advertisers and app publishers need to know when entering China. 

The webinar was moderated by Nativex’s very own Ilya Gitlin, with guest speakers:

In case you missed it, the full video recording is available on the Nativex YouTube channel, or you can watch it below. If you’d prefer to get the key takeaways, read on!

Market Trends


With the rise of apps like Douyin and Kuaishou, short-form videos have exploded in popularity in recent years. Short-form video’s rapid popularity is a result of today’s social media scene, which made users more likely to watch and enjoy content delivered much quicker. 

The short-form video category is ranked number one in terms of average daily time spent on apps in China. There are currently more than 873 million users on at least one of these apps, and they spend an average of 110 minutes per day in it. 

Marketers have started to recognize the unique advertising opportunities available on these platforms, which is transforming the way businesses communicate with their customers. The revenue share of China’s digital ad category for short-form videos went from 8.2% to 13.5% from 2019 to 2020. 


Most of all Chinese domestic retail sales will be online this year. A number so large that it represents 50% of all online retail sales globally. This can be contributed to 4 main factors; mobile reliance, the emergence of Chinese eCommerce giants, innovative payment systems, and a low cost and efficient delivery system. 

As mentioned before, short-form videos and other social media have been growing on a massive scale in China. That gave birth to a new type of eCommerce, Social Commerce. This format relies on word-of-mouth, and social marketing and is projected to reach $363billions in sales in 2021. 

Live Streaming

This form of advertising has become very popular in China and helped to accelerate all other forms of digital sales in different industries and verticals. There are around 617 million livestream users in China, representing a penetration rate of 62.4% among Chinese internet users. An incredible 66.2% of all users do their shopping via livestream, making it the second-largest channel for online shopping by user penetration. Livestream eCommerce in China is projected to bring around $305B in sales in 2021, a 384% growth from 2019. 


Which media platforms should you focus on when you are developing your user acquisition strategy? 

Each media platform in China has its own strengths in terms of how to run UA and how to run ads. For casual and hyper-casual games, OceanEngine presents as a good option due to the recent hype around Douyin, the Chinese TikTok version. 

What are the main misconceptions people have about the Chinese market, and consumers?

One of the biggest misconceptions we see is that many western advertisers and publishers think that the strategies they use in other markets will be easy to adopt in China. Traditional advertising formats have become very outdated, even certain digital marketing strategies like email marketing, and SEO/SEM have become relatively obsolete. 

With close to 1B mobile internet users the Chinese digital touchpoints are different from the rest of the world. 75% of Chinese internet users get online feedback about their purchases at least once a month, compared to just less than 20% in the United States.

What is the current outlook of the hypercasual gaming market in China?

One thing we can say about the Chinese hypercasual market is the accelerated rate that it is growing. Many local players in China focus solely on the domestic market prior to expanding globally. The reason for that is the size of the market as it can tolerate a large number of titles been launched at the same time and still find success. 

What are the biggest challenges companies are facing right now with hypercasual games in China? 

The main difference between hypercasual and midcore/hardcore games is that the latter requires ISBN compliance. Getting the ISBN can take 8-12 months and requires an understanding of the regulatory hoops you’ll need to jump through. Fortunately, that is not necessary for hypercasual games.

The main challenge for hypercasual gaming is a strong localization strategy, beyond just translation. Attention to all details of the Chinese culture, from colors to holidays, characters, geography, and design. From a UA perspective, adding this style of localization to your creatives can have a massive effect on acquiring new users.

What are some things companies should look out for when partnering in China? 

Having a partner that has a deep understanding of the culture, market, and media in China is one of the most important aspects when launching an app. That is especially true for the Android market due to its fragmented nature as each app store requires a specific strategy for UA and monetization, as well as they each might have different types of compliance requirements.

What are the main obstacles advertisers & publishers face when entering China? 

The biggest challenge seems to be the lack of understanding that international companies have of the Chinese mobile landscape. Even once companies develop this knowledge they need to be able to adapt to the evolving and increasingly sophisticated and mature market dynamics in China.

It’s also very very important that marketers, advertisers, and publishers, maintain a good understanding of the Chinese audience so they can leverage some of the consumer behavioral transformations and be able to address key pain points in their marketing efforts. Due to a large number of digital touchpoints, it’s more important that brands have a more omnichannel approach to all of their marketing strategies.


If you’d like to get your campaigns to the next level just in time for the holiday season, make sure you contact the Nativex team today. Our end-to-end marketing solutions can help you achieve sustainable ROI across the world’s largest mobile markets.