The Chinese online media landscape is very different from the rest of the world; the Chinese government has done its best to insure Chinese companies are dominant. The online mobile media sector is hyper-competitive, and is much more competitive and faster-moving than the US market.
Here is a list of the major players in the Chinese mobile landscape:
- Baidu – China’s leading search engine; something like the US’s Google;
- Alibaba, Taobao, T-Mall – Taobao and T-Mall are China’s leading e-commerce platforms, and are owned by Alibaba. After a slow start, e-commerce really took off about 2010, now people can do all their shopping via their mobile phones from home. Even cooked meals can be delivered.
- WeChat – Imagine what it would be like if Facebook, Facebook Messenger and your bank account were all connected, and it had one billion users (March 2018), and you have some idea of what WeChat is like. This is why in 2016, 34.6% of WeChat users, spent more than four hours in this one program (Source: eMarketer). It also explains why a WeChat presence is important for businesses.
- Sina Weibo – Started out by copying Twitter’s features, but has added features and expanded its userbase to where it is larger than Twitter, with 340 million active monthly users by May 2017 (Source: BBC). Frequently used as a promotional platform for new products and services, and uses key opinion leaders (KOLs) for promotions.
A significant advantage for the small- and medium-sized service provider is that the mobile landscape is still relatively young; WeChat, the most prevalent app, now has more than one billion users (by March 2017), even though it was only launched in January 2011. In some areas though, such as search and advertising, the platform is still relatively immature.This is because Tencent, the parent company for WeChat, is much less dependent on ad revenue than US companies like Facebook.
For smart fast-moving providers, this means that they can define their own image and communications in WeChat, while in most other online web-based media, they tend to be commoditized and dominated by larger players with more adspend.
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