China has grown into one really big market for internet usage — and the surge shows little sign of slowing.
Recent data from The China Internet Network Information Center, the number of Internet users grew 5 percent in 2014 to about 649 million. That means nearly half of China’s population (47.9 percent) is now firmly on the grid.
“More Chinese now access the Internet on their mobile phones than PC desktops,” notes a blog post by financial publisher Barron’s. “The mobile penetration rate is now at 85.8 percent, up from 81 percent a year ago, to 557 million users. Meanwhile, the desktop PC penetration is only 70.8 percent.”
Online shopping is also big in China, where the penetration rate is up from 48.9 percent in 2013 to 55.7 percent.
“The non-profit group attributed the growth to “the expansion of the user base to a broader age group” and mobile shopping,” added Barron’s. Despite recent allegations of fraud and a healthy trade in “knockoffs,” the Alibaba Group’s digital shopping sites now have access to a quarter of China’s population.
What’s next for China? The kind of tracking and targeting that has already overtaken U.S. and European markets.
“Mobile advertising is still weak because advertisers can’t track the mobile users well,” the report concluded. “The development of mobile advertising will rely on Alibaba and Tencent. Internet users are mostly logged in – both PC and mobile – on Alibaba’s Taobao site and Tencent’s WeChat. As these players offer ad products “across products and platforms” (from one Tencent property to another; from desktop to mobile to TV and onward), advertisers will enjoy unprecedented insights into China’s internet users.”