Ad Age

City Spotlight: Shanghai

Ask people to describe Shanghai's agency scene and the word "dynamic" comes up a lot. A megacity where charming ramshackle streets meet futuristic skyscrapers, Shanghai is China's hub for multi-national companies and ad agencies. It's the place where the industry figures out where the country's 1.4 billion consumers are heading next. "You learn on the go with advertising here in Shanghai," says Alvina Seah, Shanghai-based general manager of Energy BBDO.

That's because China's digital-savvy consumers embrace change with gusto. When Starbucks started accepting digital payment service WeChat Pay this year, it represented nearly a third of transactions that same quarter. E-commerce is a way of life in China, with its 751 million internet users, 96 percent of whom go online with a mobile phone. (China has more than twice as many mobile internet users as the U.S. has people.) About 57 percent of China's ad spending is expected to go to the internet this year, compared to less than 20 percent five years ago, according to WPP's GroupM. Agencies have had to quickly ramp up their e-commerce and digital capabilities through hiring and acquisitions.

"In China you can book

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