Qihoo 360 to offer big data tool outside China to stimulate nation’s market for digital ads

Shangyi big data analytics tool being provided for free to companies that want to connect with customers in China

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2016, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 April, 2016, 3:28pm

Qihoo 360 Technology, China’s biggest internet security provider and No 2 online search service, expects to further stimulate the mainland’s growing digital advertising market by offering its “big data” tool to companies outside of the country for the first time.

“Companies from around the world are looking to connect more effectively with customers in China,” David Ip, Qihoo 360’s global business advisor, told the South China Morning Post on Thursday.

“We’re now providing our Shangyi big data analytics tool for free to these companies so they can identify their online audience in China more effectively, and optimise marketing strategies based on behavioural patterns and habits.”

Big data refers to the vast quantities of complex information, generated from either digital and traditional sources, which are analysed to gain insight into customers, trends and business activities.

Shangyi, which was introduced on the mainland last year, is backed by big data generated from Qihoo 360’s more than 1.6 billion users.

‘Consolidation favours the strong’: Chinese group including Qihoo 360 subsidiary spending US$1.2bln on Norwegian browser company Opera Software

It consolidates multiple data sources, and offers data analytical reports in terms of search and browsing behaviour, demographics and geographical segmentation, according to the company.

“There is a huge variety of consumer preferences and behavioural patterns among Chinese netizens in different regions and demographic segments, which can be a real hurdle for overseas companies entering the China market,” Ip said.

He pointed out that Shangyi would help companies in Hong Kong and other international markets better engage about 700 million internet users on the mainland with relevant campaigns through both mobile and desktop devices.

“We expect these new overseas users of Shangyi to fuel more growth in China’s digital advertising market,” he added.

Research firm eMarketer predicted total digital and mobile advertising spending in China would increase 30 per cent to US$40.42 billion this year, up from US$31.09 billion last year, despite the lingering economic slowdown.

That would make up more than half of the estimated overall media spending of US$78.35 billion on the mainland this year, advancing 13 per cent from US$69.33 billion last year.

“We see more ad dollars shifting from traditional formats, such as TV and print, towards digital and mobile,” said Shelleen Shum, forecasting analyst at eMarketer.

Qihoo 360, which was founded in 2005, said it has nearly 200 advertising customers in Hong Kong, spread across finance, e-commerce, travel, retail, luxury, and maternal and child care product segments.

Yang Gao, the director of search marketing for Asia-Pacific at online booking service Hotels.com, said the demographic data analysis provided by Qihoo 360 has helped the company “gain a more in-depth understanding of the preferences of Chinese netizens, and further expand our market share in China”.

Qihoo 360 is poised to further expand the amount of big data that it generates daily with the proposed acquisition of browser company Opera Software.

Last month, a Chinese consortium led by internet companies Beijing Kunlun Tech and Qihoo 360 Software agreed to take over that Norwegian firm in a cash transaction valued at US$1.2 billion.

Qihoo 360 Software, part of New York-traded Qihoo 360, supplies the leading internet and mobile security products in China in terms of number of users.

Opera, which counts more than 350 million users of its desktop and mobile browser worldwide,

generates 60 per cent of its sales from mobile advertising. It had the world’s largest advertising footprint in mobile after Google in the fourth quarter last year, according to data from MixRank.