Statistics for Online Marketers: Understanding Chinese Web Traffic

The following is a snapshot of Chinese internet usage as of early 2018. For Western online marketers looking to access buying power on the OTHER side of the Great Firewall of China, you’re welcome…

(The statistics reflected below were taken from the 39th Survey Report produced by the China Internet Network Information Center – CNNIC. You can read the full report if you like poring over 100+ pages of statistics or just read our opinion on the good stuff below.)

Internet Usage


Internet users comprise about 55.8% of the total Chinese population. In raw figures, that means 772 million people there go online, which is more than than double the entire US population. That’s a market, folks.

  • Internet use is primarily an urban activity in China, with a full 73% accessing from towns and cities around the country. The vast outlying rural areas lag significantly behind.
  • Are Chinese internet users educated? About 11.5% have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Of their three-quarters of a billion internet users, around 624 million use search engines to find things. What may surprise westerners is that the most popular search site is Baidu, with Google coming in far down the list.

  • Mobile internet use is predominantly engaged in by the younger generation (those under 40). Almost 50% of those born in the 1980s have either a smartphone or tablet and about 30% do of those born in the 1990s.
  • Despite the global mobile revolution, desktop use is still popular in China, with around 36% of those who go online still choosing this method.
  • Are you sitting down? Mobile internet use comprises 95% of ALL internet traffic in China. Can you say mobile advertising?
  • When it comes to internet usage, the gender gap is mostly insignificant. 52% of users are men and 48% women.

Domain Name Statistics 2018


  • As of the first quarter of the year 2017, over 330 million domain names were registered. Now you know why you can’t find a domain name. But fret not, I’ve included a domain name generator that might help you.
  • Domain name registrations have increased to the tune of 3.7 percent every year.
  • 38.8 percent of the domain names registered have the extension “.com”
  • As of August 17, 2017, there were more than 1,547 domain name extensions.
  • Can you guess the most expensive domain name ever sold? If you guessed Las Vegas.com for a whopping $90 million, you would be correct.

Domain Names


Domain name search and registration shows the continued emergence of communication and capitalism in this communist stronghold. Here’s what’s happening on that front.

  • Recent years have seen a steady increase in domain name registration of about 10% annually.
  • China leads the world in the sheer number of domains registered, logging about 15 million.
  • The Heilongjiang province, located in northeastern China, leads the way with over 201,000 domain names registered.
  • Despite the government’s constant push for citizens to use the .CN suffix (China’s country code), .com remains the most popular, accounting for around 40% of all domain names registered.
  • GoDaddy’s international marketing has paid off in a big way. This well-known registrar holds about half of all domain names registered in China.

It’s interesting to take a look at where all that online traffic in China originates and where it’s going. With automated ‘bot traffic continuing to increase on a global scale, and accounting for about 55% of all Chinese internet traffic, there is still a healthy 44% that is created by real, live human beings.

We’ve already mentioned that Baidu is the search engine of choice in China but you might not realize the scale of being the most used in that country. It’s already the fourth most visited website in the world, trailing only Google, YouTube, and Facebook.

  • Have we already mentioned China is going mobile? It is and in a big way. The country is on pace to exceed $1 trillion in online purchases made through mobile devices, which is around 75% of ALL online Chinese retail sales.
  • If you haven’t heard the name Alibaba yet, you haven’t been paying attention. This mammoth online and offline retailer is the largest in China whether you measure in C2C, B2B. or B2C.
  • Chinese shoppers love their online wallets, preferring to use this mode of payment for 35% of total online purchases.
  • China’s e-commerce is already the largest in the world and is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. As of early 2018, e-commerce made up one-quarter of all retail sales. We’ve included an interesting tidbit about the scope of Chinese online buying habits at the end of this article. It’s mind-boggling. Stay tuned. You won’t regret it.
  • Whether or not an individual Chinese citizen follows clicking on a product with eventually purchasing it depends on their age. Those under 35 years old complete their buy in about 45% of cases while those over 35 only do so 12% of the time. Lesson to marketers – the money is in youth right now.
  • Desktop users abandon a shopping cart 85% of the time while mobile device users only do so at a 60% rate.

Remember that ridbit we mentioned? Here it is. From the preceding numbers, it’s obvious that Chinese consumers have adopted the internet in a big way. The scale is enormous. As of 2016, the US had a population of 323 million and China clocked in at 1.4 billion. For decades, that gaping difference was not reflected economically because America was still the most spend-crazy country to be found.

The reality was that the state-driven economy did not make for much disposable income for the average Chinese family. Lately, however, the government has focused on mixing a little capitalism into the communism. Three-quarters of a billion Chinese have found they like shopping online. They like it a lot.

The bottom line is that Americans are no longer the biggest spenders in the galaxy. In fact, they are being schooled in the fine art of credit card use by their Chinese counterparts. Exhibit number one is a little shopping spectacle that happens every November and is known as the 11.11 Shopping Festival.

It’s the biggest online shopping gorging to be found in the world, putting the combined purchasing power of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, AND Cyber Monday to shame by the score of $5.8 billion to $3.64 billion. Case closed. The Chinese are the biggest spenders in the world.

Welcome to the table Chinese consumerism. We’ll make a spot for you. A BIG spot.