People in China have become accustomed to the craziness that is the country’s internet startup scene, but 22 million RMB (US$3.4 million) for a single video ad is still a jaw-dropper.

The first advertisement by Papi Jiang, China’s hit amateur video girl who secured a joint investment of 12 million RMB last month, was put under hammer yesterday with a top bid of 22 million RMB, despite a recent government crackdown forcing online celebrities to take down videos due to the use of curse words. The price is even higher than the ads for China’s most popular TV event, the Spring Festival Gala.

Winner of the bid, a lesser-known cosmetics startup called Lily & Beauty, could gain a one-time promotion through Papi Jiang’s video after May 21st. Other benefits include promotions on Papi Jiang’s Weibo and WeChat accounts (one time each) and multiple ads on Logical Thinking, a knowledge-based video program hosted by Luo Zhenyu, Papi Jiang’s investor and the bid’s organizer.

Being held both offline and online, the bid started at 217,000 RMB and closed at the final bidding price within 7 minutes. Yang Ming, Papi Jiang’s manager, announced that all the money would be donated to the Central Academy of Drama, where she previously studied for a film directing masters course.

There’s not doubt that the auction, the first of its kind, will have a great impacts on China’s new media sector, the internet star economy and their commercialization modes, but there’s also another player that will benefit from the case: Alibaba.

Local media pointed out that all the parties involved in are related to the internet giant. The auction is streamed through Alibaba’s video affiliate Youku, which is aiming to push out more original professionally generated content amid tougher competition between rising video streaming sites like Tencent Video. The auction was also conducted on Alibaba’s online auction platform. The e-commerce giant is also the backer of Papi Jiang’s investor and bid organizer Luo Zhenyu and Series A investor of bid winner Lily & Beauty.

Luo Zhenyu posted a status to squash speculation, saying “22 million RMB for media hype? We are donating big bucks.” However it is undeniable that all the parties – with Alibaba links, have benefited from the deal.


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Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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