Com­mu­nity ad­ver­tis­ing should ben­e­fit home­own­ers

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By MAZHIPING

Var­i­ous ad­ver­tise­ments are some­times so dis­turb­ing that I ha­bit­u­ally switch them off as soon as they ap­pear onmy cell phone, my lap­top or per­sonal com­put­ers at home and in the of­fice.

But the free­dom of choice is not al­ways there. I sim­ply can­not ig­nore the ad­ver­tise­ments that are posted and reg­u­larly up­dated at the en­trances ofmy res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity, and the lobby and el­e­va­tors ofmy apartment build­ing.

The ad­ver­tise­ments, most shown on video screens and on framed boards, present ev­ery­thing con­sid­ered to be the daily ne­ces­si­ties of life— food and bev­er­ages, fash­ion and health­care items, over­seas ed­u­ca­tion and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, new home project pro­mo­tions and lux­ury cruise tours, and spe­cial sales an­nounce­ments from in­ter­net re­tail giants like Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd and JD.com Ltd, to name just a few.

The coun­try’s com­mu­nity ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket is be­ing ea­gerly pounced upon by ad agen­cies and man­u­fac­tur­ers be­cause it pre­cisely and ef­fec­tively tar­gets high-end and well-off ur­ban res­i­dents.

The blos­som­ing com­mu­nity ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness has cer­tainly brought in hand­some rev­enue for the providers of the ad­ver­tis­ing space— the res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties.

But how much have the com­mu­ni­ties earned and where has the money gone or what has been done with the money?

The Prop­erty Law, ef­fec­tive from Oct 1, 2007, rules that all res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity rev­enue earned from com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties such as ad­ver­tis­ing in pub­lic open ar­eas, park­ing lots, lob­bies and el­e­va­tors, be­longs to ev­ery home­owner in the com­mu­nity.

My com­mu­nity man­age­ment of­fice has been too shy to show we home­own­ers a sin­gle sheet of in­come and ex­pen­di­ture of the ad­ver­tise­ment earn­ings ever since.

And it would be some­thing worth re­port­ing if a home­owner says one day he or she has seen such a re­port from his or her com­mu­nity of­fice.

Some com­mu­nity ser­vice man­agers, in an­swer­ing home­own­ers’ re­quests, said that the money has been spent on com­mu­nity ser­vices but all re­fused to pub­lish a rev­enue and ex­pen­di­ture list.

While many com­mu­nity ser­vice man­age­ments are try­ing ev­ery means to keep the home­own­ers in the dark, on the other side of the coin, is the fact that many home­own­ers, as many as about 70 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to sur­veys con­ducted by lo­cal me­dia in cities across the coun­try, have no knowl­edge that they have a le­git­i­mate right to share com­mu­nity ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues.

Ur­ban­iza­tion is mov­ing fast in China and the build­ing of nu­mer­ous high-rises to ac­com­mo­date ur­ban res­i­dents has boosted the use of el­e­va­tors.

Sta­tis­tics from the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Qual­ity Su­per­vi­sion, In­spec­tion and Quar­an­tine showed that by the end of 2014, the num­ber of el­e­va­tors had reached 3.6 mil­lion, mak­ing China the coun­try with the most el­e­va­tors in the world.

China has 650 cities and they are home to 750 mil­lion res­i­dents, more than half of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion. The an­nual in­come of res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity ad­ver­tis­ing busi­nesses was es­ti­mated at 10 bil­lion yuan ($1.5 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

And more peo­ple are mov­ing into cities as the ur­ban­iza­tion rate is ex­pected to rise from 58 per­cent in 2015 to 60 per­cent in 2020.

Pro­tec­tion of ur­ban res­i­dents’ le­gal rights is there­fore be­com­ing an im­por­tant and ur­gent is­sue on the city man­age­ment agenda for lo­cal gov­ern­ments in China.

Although there are rel­e­vant laws and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity af­fairs in ser­vice, weak su­per­vi­sion and the fail­ure of the com­mu­nity ser­vice man­age­ments —in con­duct­ing their du­ties in line with the law— have cre­ated loop­holes in the res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket and in­fringed home­own­ers’ rights as a re­sult.

Stronger su­per­vi­sion by the au­thor­i­ties can make these busi­nesses more trans­par­ent and help en­sure that home­own­ers be­come real ben­e­fi­cia­ries of ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues of res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties.

The au­thor­i­ties should also en­sure that the con­tent of com­mu­nity ad­ver­tise­ments is clean and heathy and does not harm young res­i­dents.

In manag­ing com­mu­nity af­fairs and build­ing happy and har­mo­nious com­mu­ni­ties, lo­cal gov­ern­ments may learn from the prac­tice of de­vel­oped coun­tries such as the United States, which has es­tab­lished thou­sands of home­owner as­so­ci­a­tions that take good care of com­mu­nity af­fairs.

I would like to see a sit­u­a­tion in which com­mu­nity ad­ver­tis­ing be­comes an at­trac­tive busi­ness plat­form, which up­dates res­i­dents with in­for­ma­tion about the com­mer­cial world and warms our hearts by cre­at­ing bet­ter wel­fare and man­age­ment ser­vices, and a bet­ter com­mu­nity en­vi­ron­ment.

Con­tact the writer at mazhiping@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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