How New Technologies Enhance Our Living


By Fang Ying and Mabel Sieh, China Business Knowledge @ CUHK 

“Via the integration power of technology, data and content, Tencent is creating its digital marketing ecosystem - ‘One Tencent’, providing marketing solutions for its clients,” said Mr. Steven Chang, Corporate Vice President of Tencent at Hong Kong Management Association Annual Conference in November 2017. Mr Chang is in charge of the company’s online media marketing solutions and advertising business, specializing in the alignment of Tencent Video, Mobile, Portal and Social Advertising.

Introducing Tencent’s latest digital advertising practice and innovative digital marketing ecosystem in China, he said that online advertising is one of the main revenue sources for Tencent, along with smartphone games and e-payments.

Having introduced the ‘One Tencent’ marketing philosophy, Mr. Chang said that Tencent's products now reach 98 percent of Chinese Netizens and account for 58 percent of their time spent online. Through its comprehensive product portfolio, Tencent's solutions touch all aspects of daily life including information search access, online shopping, travel, sports and entertainment. 

Mr. Chang said that as new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), rapidly develop, the usage of such technologies and data has become the core competitiveness of a company’s marketing capability.

“Leveraging Tencent’s latest technology, we can get more accurate and specific user insight. We have the data, cloud and AI technology for different marketing needs, such as community marketing,” he said, sharing an example of Tencent’s new initiative which helps identify missing children through the company’s powerful face recognition technology.

“Once a child is missing in China, it’s not easy to find him or her after 72 hours. But through our face recognition technology and the data hosted in our QQ platform, we can predict how they will look after 10 years, with an accuracy rate of 99.5 percent. So far, 286 cases of missing children have been recorded on QQ and 176 children have been found through our AI technology,” Mr. Chang said.  

According to him, Tencent has launched its AI lab in April 2016 and the lab is focusing on research and development in areas involving machine learning, computer vision, voice recognition, and face recognition.

In addition, he pointed out that the new technology applications can be used in commercial marketing and help brands engage consumers in an experiential way. He cited the marketing collaboration between Tencent and BMW as an example.

In 2016, BMW launched its new BMW X1 model. A live broadcast of the BMW X1 concert was launched across different Tencent platforms, from Tencent video, Penguin TV to Wechat Moments and QQ music. VR technology was also integrated into the campaign to transport audiences to the live show. The campaign generated a total of 10 million views and 40 million interactions as a result.

“Today, marketing is less about promotion and more about engagement. Through Tencent’s ecosystem combining product, data, technology, content, media and platform, we connect people to people, people to things and people to service,” he said, adding that the company aims to facilitate brands to go digital and make smart marketing decisions by taking advantage of our technology strength and huge user base.

On the topic of VR engagement, however, not everybody only sees the positive side of it. Prof. Shen Hao at CUHK Business School shared his insights in a recent luncheon talk held by China Business Knowledge @ CUHK on the topic “The Impact of Technology on Consumer Behavior”.

“Many companies are now taking advantage of VR technology in the shopping environment. They believe that such technology will encourage people to shop more. By wearing the VR devices, shoppers can look at the products as if they’re in a physical shop, that’s why they’ll shop more,” said Prof. Shen, Associate Professor at CUHK Business School. “However, is that really the case?”

“When you look at people wearing the VR devices, you see that they're completely emerged themselves in a different world and isolated from each other. In the VR environment, people tend to focus their attention and experiences merely on themselves, as they cannot interact with other people,” he added.

“Think about BUY+, the VR shopping experience offered by Alibaba, allowing shoppers to see everything, in anywhere, from perusal to purchase, all inside a VR environment. Imagine yourself go inside this virtual shop, seeing all the products through your VR device. How would you feel? Will you feel excited - or not?”

“I think in many cases shopping is a social activity, rather than a private activity. Maybe it’s crowded, but you’d like to see people around you because it’s fun. If you’re the only person in the shop, you’d feel quite lonely. When you feel lonely, will you want to buy a lot of things? Maybe not.”

Based on his two recent studies, he found that people who viewed pictures of restaurants or supermarkets using a VR gear would rather prefer seeing many people in the environment, suggesting that VR might indeed create a feeling of loneliness. 

“I think VR can sometimes create a feeling of loneliness,” said Prof. Shen.

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