Chinese Internet companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to get people to download their mobile applications in countries like Brazil, Indonesia and Egypt. In these Android-dominated markets, companies like Qihoo 360, Baidu and Cheetah Mobile have figured out how to build a relationship with overseas customers and, perhaps more importantly, how to get their applications onto as many phones as possible.
The “productivity application”—which might sound strange to American iPhone users—is a particularly potent tool for these Chinese mobile giants. These apps include security tools, Android launchers, lock-screen modifiers and new keyboard features. If a company can get a productivity application on a phone, it then has eyes into how people are spending their time as well as the ability to direct them to new applications.
The Information chatted with Si Shen, the CEO of PapayaMobile, who is uniquely positioned to watch these Chinese app powerhouses: She’s the one selling them ads. Once strictly a game developer, Papaya has made a serious move into the international advertising business with a mobile ad network called AppFlood. She’s helping companies like Baidu and Qihoo 360 make programmatic ad buys around the world. An edited transcript of the conversation is below.