Brand Expectations for China are High, with Hopes Pinned on eCommerce and Social

New research reveals that brands are planning significant investments in China despite a lack of confidence in marketers’ understanding of the market

China will be the next frontier of growth for European brands, according to new research published today by The Trade Desk – with brands committing big spend to the market.

Over half (53%) of the senior brand marketers surveyed in the UK, France and Germany confirmed that China represents a significant growth opportunity, with an additional third (34%) stating that China represents the biggest growth opportunity for their business.

While less than 10% of sales currently come from China for a quarter of marketers (25%), the research suggests that these figures are set to increase significantly over the next five years – with 59% anticipating that sales will more than double, with 25% or more coming from the Chinese market within this timeframe.

And brands are putting their money where their mouth is. Over a quarter (27%) plan to invest over £250 million on digital media advertising in the Chinese market this year alone – more than the total GDP of Portugal – with 47% planning to increase this investment by at least 15% in the next five years. Just under one in ten (8%) respondents expect an uplift of over 40%.

The research suggests that brands are relying primarily on ecommerce (ranked top by 76% of respondents) and social media (72%) to grow their customer base, making the most of the 400+ million people in China’s growing middle class.

But despite these strong expectations of growth, one in five (22%) brands feel less than confident that their brand is maximising its digital media buying opportunities in the Chinese market. It’s therefore unsurprising that the role of partners is elevated – with three quarters (76%) likely or highly likely to move media investment dollars to a global partner who operates internationally, including China – and a further 83% thinking it’s important or highly important that their DSP works closely with major media players in the market.

Anna Forbes, UK General Manager at The Trade Desk, commented: “The Asia-Pacific region is set to be the largest advertising region in the world in just a few short years, and China will be a huge part of this. Marketers know that e-commerce and social are huge players in the Chinese digital market, and so are planning to pump investment into these channels. But there’s no doubt that China is a complex market that presents unique challenges for brands, and marketers need the reassurance that their spend is efficiently used. That’s why The Trade Desk has spent the past three years establishing infrastructure and building relationships in China, to enable marketers to activate campaigns with the same confidence and ease that they would in any other market’.


This research was conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of The Trade Desk. It surveyed 300 marketing leaders across North America (100), APAC (100), and EMEA (100), all of whom make or influence marketing decisions. Thirty-four percent of responders are C-level. Among respondent companies, 75% have annual global revenues in excess of $1 billion USD. More than half will spend in excess of $100 million USD on digital media in China this year.

About The Trade Desk
The Trade Desk™ is a technology company that empowers buyers of advertising. Through its self-service, cloud-based platform, ad buyers can create, manage, and optimize digital advertising campaigns across ad formats and devices. Integrations with major data, inventory, and publisher partners ensure maximum reach and decisioning capabilities, and enterprise APIs enable custom development on top of the platform. Headquartered in Ventura, CA, The Trade Desk has offices across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. To learn more, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.