Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Over the last 5 years or so I have been keeping an eye on the growth of the internet is international markets, particularly in Asia. comScore issued a press release today that sums it up quite well. First, as of December 2008 the internet reaches over 1 billion people globally. The majority (41%) of the internet users globally are in the Asia Pacific region, and China specifically had been on a trajectory to surpass the US for sometime now. Notice how the main search engine in China Baidu.com, sometimes referred to as “China’s Google”, and Tencent, a network of Chinese internet properties and services, has earned their spots as two of the top 15 properties in the world – yes globally.

15countries115props

Surely it will come as no surprise that Google is by far the largest site in the world, with 77% reach against the global online audience.  It is  important to point out that three of the top 10 properties are social media sites – Wikipedia, Facebook, and MySpace (represented via Fox Interactive numbers) are included in the top 10, and this has been the case for some time now.

We often don’t see the forest for the trees…
The trends of Amazon and eBay maintaining such dominance over the years proves that the web’s ability to fuel commerce will only continue to grow (no surprises there). Apple and Adobe’s place as a top global internet powerhouses proves that technology, and experiential services can trump media & content plays for consumers’ mindshare and time (which are both limited). The leading social media properties moving up the list reflects the power of relevant collective and participatory experiences. The fact that two of the top global properties are Chinese in a world where Chinese is not a global language indicates the size of the opportunity in this market if you have the wherewithal to expand and operate there. China has the largest population on earth and with an evolving culture and economy it was only a matter of time before the internet population surpassed all others. The BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are hot. To a degree the internet has made global borders irrelevant. Business culture, ideas and innovation, if not actual commerce, pass unabated from country to country. The ability to expand your business into emerging markets can be hampered by entrepreneurs in these markets spotting the trends and launching similar products and services. Have you thought that far ahead? Does it matter to your business? Is this part of your strategic planning?

I’d love to hear your stories of BRIC expansion!

This video was bubbling around the web a bit recently, although apparently it all stems back to a research presentation compiled originally by Karl Fisch, the Director of Technology for Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. It has since been remixed, enhanced, redesigned and used for many purposes including a recent Sony BMG executive meeting in Rome. It is an amazingly well put together state of global technology, media and education, and I thank Karl for providing me with the version I was looking for!

Karl and his staff received two grants in 2005 to improve teacher and student use of technology to achieve curricular goals, to help transform their school to a more student-centered, constructivist approach, and to prepare the students to succeed in the 21st century. While technology was certainly a big part of this proposal in terms of dollars, the heart of our proposal was staff development. You can learn more about this impressive bunch on their main blog, appropriately named the Fischbowl.

What does it mean that China is about to surpass the US in the number of broadband connections? Furthermore, what does it mean that the Chinese government still exerts a level of control over the content and communication that occurs online in China?

Broadband Connections

Source: Point-Topic 2008

The technology driven aspects of the US economy have been predicated on scale. Of course, it only makes sense that China’s position as the most populous nation in the world will also be reflected in internet usage. The US internet dominance has fostered an environment for innovation, e-commerce, and recent evolution of social media. Can the tides change in favor of an eventual larger scale Chinese internet economy? The US has already been walking a step behind Asia and Europe in the mobile space and the ramifications seem temporary, as US companies are finally holding their own and growing despite the control of the US carriers, which in part created the slow mobile web growth.

All things considered, with the near collapse of our financial services driven aspects of our economy, the new media and technology driven aspects of our economy seemed to be the potential shining star. I’m sure that our internet economy will continue to thrive amid the temporary set backs of the economy at large, but keep an eye on China…that is, if you were living under a rock and hadn’t been doing so already.

I could have easily titled this post “A tale of two platforms – the old and the new”…

Have you been following the online Olympics buzz? NBC has been incredibly restrictive about where & when their 2,200 hours of video content will live online. To make matters more interesting, the video player on NBCOlympics.com requires Microsoft’s SilverLight video plugin, which besides being a plugin that none of us have installed yet, totally alienates Mac users who are not even able to utilize the plugin at all, leaving Mac users out in the cold.

According to Nielsen, the first workday after the opening ceremony of Olympics, over 2 million unique video viewers and 4.6 million total visitors visited NBCOlympics.com (that is compared to 114 million TV viewers, an Olympics record). By the way, Yahoo’s Olympics site had 5.2 million viewers during the same day. So it begs the question that must have reverberated the board rooms at NBC for months, even years, prior to the games – is the lack of online video content and the delaying of online content until after the televised broadcast driving viewers to tune in on TV? Or would the ratio of online to TV viewing generally remain  the same even if NBC had let loose of the reigns a little bit? Are they making the best decisions to balance maximizing the return on the $894 million investment in the US broadcasting rights, with the long term needs of maintaining valuable relationships with viewers?

In the first two days of the games, 90% of viewers watched the Olympics on TV alone, nearly 10% watched on both TV and online, and only 0.2% watched online-only, according to Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research.

To complicate matters, there’s a 15 hour time difference between the US and China, and a good portion of the Olympics programming is being broadcast 12 hours after the actual events, giving reporters and bloggers enough opportunity to spread the results of the games (sans video of course) prior to the broadcast. So consumers may know the results prior to actually watching the games on TV (or online for that matter). What about simulcasting the TV and web programming? This would create no possibility for ratings erosion or cannibalization of one medium’s ratings for the other’s, it would only increase consumer choices, which is always a good thing. In fact, via deals with AT&T and Verizon, the TV coverage is indeed being simulcast on mobile TV. NBCU is after all using a new measurement tool they refer to as “Total Audience Measurement Index” (TAMI) to try and determine the aggregate reach of its multi-platform coverage.

Last notable point regarding the Olympics is what is happening elsewhere around the world. In an effort to preempt pirated footage hitting the web, the broadcasting group of the International Olympics Committee established a channel on YouTube, which is accessible to 77 countries – and of course the IP addresses of countries with exclusive broadcasting deals, like the US, are banned from viewing this content. Within China itself, P2P site PPLive.com is actually officially licensed to stream the live games. A quick search will bring up plenty of website and blogs that offer advice on how to “hack” around the restrictions and gain online access to the content if you really want it. Personally, I don’t want it that badly, but apparently many people do, possibly just for the principle of it.

Meanwhile On The Other Side of Town

Facebook Video Ad From Insidefacebook.com

Facebook Video Ad From Insidefacebook.com

Unless you’re living under a rock, you would have noticed by now that Facebook has relaunched a new layout and design, but what you may not yet have noticed are the new ad placements and formats. Video ads with commenting capabilities have rolled out on a test-basis on the Facebook homepage. Most of us will notice the “Sponsor” block on the right hand column filled with generic Facebook ads, but this is where the video unit is being tested. What an engaging concept, yet a double edged sword. However, the ability to tap into consumer demand and brand advocacy by displaying comments can be huge. The flip side of course, is if a marketer knows that their brand has as many detractors as it does advocates, this is not going to be the unit of choice.

So the moral of today’s story? The dichotomy between the application of online video of one of the most powerful media brands of our lifetime and the new kid on the block is equally experimental on both sides. Online video is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The only commonality is the potential.

I guess you can just file this one under interesting, unless you are actively marketing in China…Youku.com

A had to do a double take when I first read the MediaPost headline last week – “China’s Youku Approaches YouTube Territory, Surpasses 100 Million Daily Mark“.  In one year the site went from zero to 12 million users – indeed reminiscent of YouTube. I’m quite aware of the internet growth in China, but this number represented a real landmark to me.

It was less than 10 years ago, when I was invited by Doubleclick’s CEO to co-present the state of online advertising affairs to a delegation from China consisting of leaders of academia and government. The Chinese government was censoring US based internet content at the time, and still to a degree flexes censorship power over the type of content its citizens can be exposed to. With Youku’s  scale, one must assume that the government’s biggest microscope is focused in their direction, or directly involved, which wouldn’t be surprising considering the fact that in many countries the government runs the largest national media companies.

I’ve been presenting digital marketing seminars to the diving and adventure travel industries since 2001. I’ve presented seminars in Singapore and Bangkok, and I’ve recently been scheduled to present a  seminar in Shanghai in 2009, to assist in bringing the fast growing, but still nascent Chinese market up to speed.

I’ve created a new category for “China” for the blog, so periodically I’ll post updates from this fascinating market.