Case Study: How Huawei turned its smartphone business around


When operating in China, the numbers involved are usually big and the smartphone market is no exception. Huawei, one of the world’s largest smartphone vendors, launched Ascend Mate7 this year.

As Huawei is fairly new to the mobile market, capturing market share was its biggest challenge, particularly in a market saturated for smartphones. Despite slowing growth, Huawei was eager to explore new channels to reach target customers. Hence, developing a successful digital strategy for seizing customers from competitors was crucial.


Being a new player in the smartphone market, Huawei was not armed with sufficient data to determine the right online channel to reach out to target customers. In order to meet marketing objectives, Huawei worked with iClick. iClick planned a 2-phase strategic approach. Firstly, it found who their potential customers were and them it we adopted a data-driven approach to reach target customers across channels in the most cost-effective manner.

Phase 1: Leveraging on iClick’s programmatic marketing platform, which is connected to over 300,000 websites in China, Huawei was able to identify users interested in smartphones by analysing content these users liked, the content they shared with friends, and what they commented on. The users identified were then matched with the audience database of iClick’s through cookie matching.

Phase 2: Huawei’s target audience profile as identified in Phase 1 served as the basis of programmatic media buying on iClick’s technology platform. Connecting to major ad exchanges in China and other biddable and non-biddable private exchanges and portals, Huawei was able to effectively convey its advertising messages to a target audience scattered across millions of websites and devices.


iClick analysed data from campaigns previously run by Huawei. This helped identify the demographic data of the target audience (including age range, gender, location and search history etc.) and the target audience was segmented into different groups based on their internet behavior. Harnessing tracking technology, iClick’s programmatic marketing platform traced audiences who viewed or shared relevant content, and delivered ad messages to this precise segment.


Throughout the campaign, relevant media placement created significant awareness, with the number of clicks exceeding the pre-campaign prediction by 37.2%, the total impressions exceeding 26.7%, and the average CTR exceeding 32.0%.

The significant rise in awareness also resulted in a huge increase of new Weibo followers for Huawei, demonstrating the campaign’s effectiveness in increasing Huawei’s audience pool. The campaign covered 17.8 million Huawei Mate7 potential customers and over 29 million competitors’ potential customers. The total coverage of the interested audience group reached beyond 56 million.

The writer is Sammy Hsieh, CEO of iClick.