Sina announced a 205% year-on-year growth in Weibo revenue in Q2 2013, while the company’s total revenues increased only by 19.7%. Weibo advertising generated $30 million, a 209% YoY increase and 60% QoQ growth. Other revenues from Weibo, including revenue cuts from third-party game developers and membership subscriptions, grew 186% to $7.7 million.
The ad revenue from Alibaba in May and June is about $5 million. When Alibaba made the investment in Sina Weibo last quarter, it promised to pay at least $380 million for placing e-commerce ads on Weibo in the next three years. Since then, Sina Weibo started featuring ads from Alimama, Alibaba’s contextual ad program, and Taobao ads in user timeline.
More recently Weibo for Taobao was launched that retailers can publish a Weibo posts with images of goods, prices of them and other information directly from the Taobao system. Users now can bundle their Weibo accounts to Taobao’s that Sina and its advertisers could leverage the user data from Alibaba a Sina Weibo representative told me recently. For instance, previously Weibo advertisers can hardly know where a user is living if he or she doesn’t fill in his or her address while Taobao must know where to deliver goods. Location information helps advertisers to place geo-targeted ads.
The company saw one third of Weibo ad revenues from mobile in Q1. For this quarter, that as a percentage “went up slightly without considering Alibaba’s contribution”, Charles Chao, CEO of Sina, said during the earnings call. As currently a majority of Alibaba’s ads, through Alimama, are on PC, ” So that diluted the mobile (as) a percentage a little bit”, Chao added.
Sina Weibo has been working on the in-site search, hoping to return more relevant results. It is estimated that the platform will sell paid searches sooner or later.