Don't come to China and expect to deal
with the same media owners that you do in Europe or the US. In
fact, the history of western digital brands in China is littered
with casualties. Yahoo! entered the market in 1999 but had
developed only a 0.5% share in the market a decade later. Ebay
arrived in 2001 but sold out in 2006 after amassing a very slight
5% share, while Google successfully entered the market in 2005 and
built a 35% share but has since, very publicly, relocated to Hong
Kong. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are blocked.
Of all the big western brands only MSN
could be said to have built a relatively healthy position thanks to
its popular Messenger platform, but it still remains a distant
second in the Chinese instant messaging market.
In China, therefore, you will have to
build relationships with a new set of digital (as well as
traditional) media owners.
In search, that means Baidu - which
had 64% market share and 38.5% year-on-year growth in 2009.
Sina is the top portal in the sector generating RMB 4.9bn
($0.75bn) in 2009, and it also dominates the blogging and
micro-blogging markets, while Tencent and Shengda dominate the
online gaming market.
Growth rates are even more stunning in
social media, online video and online shopping sectors. Social
media is growing at 90% year on year and the top two players are
Kaixin and Renren. Online shopping is dominated by Taobao (a
MediaCom client), with more than 80% of the consumer-to-consumer
Again, this is sector is growing
rapidly with 94% growth and a total value of RMB 248bn ($37.7bn).
Online video is growing at more than
95% per annum and is dominated by Youku and Tudou, which together
have 80% market share. But it's not just the media owners that are
different in China's digital space - behaviour, content and points
of access all have their own characteristics.
Internet café usage is much higher
(especially in lower tier cities where home PC penetration is low),
music is mostly unlicensed, while video consumption is less about
user-generated content and more about TV dramas and entertainment
that can be instantly downloaded. Peer-to-peer usage is also highly
popular (mainly to watch online video).