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Analysis: The future of new media in the Chinese automotive industry

Carmen Lee From Gasgoo.com| January 28 , 2013

Gasgoo.com (Shanghai) - The increasingly important role of new media has become an issue of major discussion in many different circles around the world. Compared with traditional media formats, such as newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts and TV programs, new media focuses on interactivity and networkability. It includes formats such as microblogging and social network services. Due to its growing popularity, new media is becoming a more and more influential source of social commentary on the latest happenings in various fields across China, including the country's automotive industry. What sort of prospects does new media have in the automotive industry? In order to answer those and other questions, Gasgoo.com (Chinese) conducted a week-long survey on the issue.

Survey participants were first asked whether or not they believe new media can be used to boost sales of enterprises operating in the industry. The vast majority of participants, 82 percent, are very optimistic in new media's commercial applications in the industry, pointing out that its rapid development over just a few years is proof that it will be very successful. They state that its interactivity and timeliness, as well as the density of material it can transmit, have been acknowledged by a majority of netizens, and that automotive enterprises would be well advised to use new media to improve their brand images and increase sales. They add that new media's focus on individuality can help enterprises sell products to a number of consumers they would otherwise not be able to easily reach.

Only two percent of participants believe that there is not much of a sales usage for new media in the automotive industry. In their view, new media is still not very mature and there are a number of complications that need to be addressed before it can be used by enterprises in the industry. The remaining 16 percent of participants were undecided, saying that more time needs to pass before it can be decided whether or not new media is commercially viable.

Although there is a general consensus that new media offers a lot of new business opportunities for the automotive industry, there is still debate as to which format of the new technology, which includes digital magazines, digital news, SMS text messages and social network services, is best suited for channeling these commercial interests.

In the second question of the survey, participants were asked which new media format they feel will be most commercially successful in the industry. Microblogging gained the largest percentage of participants' votes, 35 percent. Microblogging's approach to sharing and spreading information in a simple yet effective matter is what has made it so popular in China. Statistics show that they were over 249.8 million microblog users registered in the country by last December 2011. That number has increased to over 300 million this year, making China the country with the most microbloggers in the world. If a news topic becomes popular in the Chinese microblogging sphere, it can easily reach the eyes of a vast number of readers. This rapid spreading of information among a huge amount of readers is what makes microblogging especially attractive to automotive enterprises as a means of boosting sales.

Mobile phone text messages garnered the second largest percentage of votes from participants, 23 percent, followed by social network services and search engine optimization, which gained 20 percent and 11 percent, respectively. While the number of mobile phone users is naturally greater than those of microblogs, enterprises wanting to send SMS messages must pay a fine, while information can be posted on microblogs for free. Furthermore, SMS messages are typically limited to advertisements, further limiting their interactivity, which is one of the major appeals of new media.

As an emerging type of media, new media does face a variety of issues before mainstream acceptance among automotive enterprises as a viable method of improving sales. The final question specifically targeted this issue. Three challenges were commonly brought up by participants: lack of innovative service firms specializing in new media technology, difficulty in measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of new media marketing and sales campaigns, and the fact that information spread throughout new media is not entirely within enterprises' control.

36 percent of the respondents were most concerned about the first issue. In their eyes, new media, as an alternative to traditional media formats, relies heavily on innovation to be effective. Any enterprises wanting to make use of it would have to be just as innovative to reap financial results. However, there are currently no major firms in the automotive industry well-versed in new media. This lack of experts in the field means that further experimentation with new media will need to be done, preventing it from being financially rewarding in the short-term.

Meanwhile, 34 percent of participants feel that the inability to accurately measure the effectiveness of sales and marketing campaigns made via new media is its biggest obstacle to mainstream acceptance. Statistics for views and forwards of information can be manipulated to be higher than they actually are, making it difficult for enterprises to precisely gauge the number of consumers who are actually drawn in by their advertising campaigns.

The final major concern of lack of enterprise control gained 22 percent of participants' votes. They point out that one of the key characteristics of new media is its high user interactivity. As such, any information put out by automotive enterprises can be commented on or manipulated by users in ways that they may not approve of.


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