Many clients have asked me this question, following it up by asking how to extend their web analytics capabilities to mobile in China. It’s not always an easy job. Marketers in China are becoming more familiar with web analytics tools to leverage internal customer data and external data from sources like social media to understand online customer behavior. Most use local web analytics tools like Baidu Statistics or Alibaba’s and are starting to engage with global vendors like IBM (ExperienceOne) and Adobe’s Omniture, but don’t know if effective mobile analytics solutions exist. Marketers in China face challenges in recognizing customers on mobile and analyzing, managing, and monetizing mobile data:

  • Marketers have difficulty identifying customers on mobile before they log in. Campaign management tools help marketers collect mobile device IDs or even sensitive information like mobile phone numbers. These tools are still web-like in that they can’t identify users until they log in. The marketing manager of one CPG company has made the reorganization of mobile users one of its mobile analytics priorities for 2015.
  • Mobile data rarely supports marketing decisions. Marketers in China can’t find integrated marketing campaign management solutions that include both web and mobile. The credit card department of a leading Chinese commercial bank found that customer response rates to its mobile campaigns were ineffective due to the gaps between its mobile and online marketing campaigns.
  • Brands have no idea how to monetize mobile data. Marketers know how to monetize data on mobile traffic and user profiles, but not how to add value from the mobile data itself. Exchanging mobile data with third parties will be a good idea if the data platform can solve data ownership, privacy, and regulatory issues.

The good news is that tech companies and agencies recognize the rising demand for mobile analytics and want to invest more in it. There are two major types of mobile analytics vendors in China:

  • Partners or subsidiaries of Internet giants like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. These mobile analytics solutions primarily serve mobile apps of affiliated companies. For instance, Umeng, which was acquired by Alibaba, primarily serves Alibaba Group mobile apps like Taobao and Tmall. Other apps like Kuaidi Taxi are joint ventures with their parent company. It will be difficult for these mobile analytics vendors to provide services to, or share data with, mobile apps outside of their group.
  • Independent mobile analytics providers like TalkingData. Since 2011, TalkingData has focused on supplying mobile user behaviors and mobile ad trackers to advise 4A agencies on ad purchases. Increasing demand from brands has brought TalkingData directly into the enterprise market; the provider will supply a mobile data platform to brands to buy or exchange their mobile data to support 360-degree marketing campaign automation or customer personas.  

A quick answer my initial question: Yes, but mobile analytics offerings are still in the early stages and have very limited features. Marketers in China could bring mobile analytics from existing suppliers into the current CRM systems and campaign management tools and use these analytics as a reference when making marketing decisions.