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Why Sina Plays Down A Creative Monetization Means?
Recently Sina executives, unusually, appeared here and there to explain their monetization plans (report in Chinese). This time they denies that the Micro-task, launched in September 2012, is one of the major monetization approaches, saying they don’t count it to make much money. I can hardly believe it. One of the causes must have something to do with the rumors that Sina forced third-party Weibo advertising services surrender to Micro-task platform thus hand over 30% of ad revenues.
A Workable System
Twenty thousand individual accounts, content producers with a large number of followers, and five thousand Blue V accounts, verified organizations, have joined in Micro-task as advertising media, as disclosed by Sina’s representatives. Those accounts are classified into different categories and set prices for posting or forward a piece of ad.
An advertiser would visit the platform, upload an advertising post, set a price, set a time for posting, and select target accounts. The chosen accounts will be notified and decide whether they’d like this post to be shown in their news feeds. The deal will be completed 24 hours after the ad appears in some feeds and is not deleted. Advertisers pay the accounts who do ads for them weekly through Sina’s payment system. Now there are over one thousand deals reached daily.
My friends see Micro-task as a reasonable monetization means that it takes advantage of influential accounts on Weibo and the influence of the platform itself. In early 2012 when it was rumored that Sina Weibo was developing such a self-serve advertising system, I discussed it with a veteran journalist who was so excited, concluding that he could make a good living through his over fifty thousand followers. He wasn’t worried that it would destroy user experience as he’d choose ads acceptable with his audience.
The market response shows it’s a workable business that third-party agencies emerged. There has been around ten companies are working on helping advertisers place ad offers on the platform. Just like how third parties help advertisers with search marketing, social marketing and the like. Weiboyi, a third-party social marketing company who was one of the earliest that put the Micro-task model into practice and took advantage of the peak prosperity of the Sina Weibo, told media that they saw 30% – 40% decrease in business because of Sina’s move (Sure, it can shift to do consulting on it too).
But, Sina will stick to display and feed advertising?
Sina’s spokesperson, Ai Yong, said that the setup of Micro-task isn’t for eliminating deals under the table, but for “sorting out the business process”. He said Sina would not force those accounts who have been charging advertisers for posting ads to join in the program or block links included in their posts.
The tech support and operation are provided by IN MY SHOW, a social marketing company, and Sina staffs are responsible for monitoring and filtering posts submitted to the platform. The CEO of IN MY SHOW said Sina’s monitoring ad posts from the back-end could regulate the Weibo content advertising market.
Mr. Spokesperson iterated that the display advertising system, launched in April 2012, and the self-serve system targeted at small businesses that will be launched soon will be the major revenue sources.
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