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Trends of blogging in China.

Blogbus.com prepares to shift up a gear

By Chen Shasha

Standfirst: A blogging frenzy grips China’s Internet users, but how to effectively generate revenue from this unique medium has had operators scratching their heads. For Dou Yi, CEO of Blogbus.com, the answer lies in the bloggers themselves. Interfax spoke with the former investment manager and self-confessed blog addict last week.
 
Shanghai. May 15. INTERFAX-CHINA – Much like the rest of the world, blogging in China has exploded in popularity over the last few years.

However, the country’s 46.98 million bloggers and 72.82 million blogs, according to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in 2007, pose a unique challenge to a government that exerts tight control over the media and the dissemination of comments it deems to be politically or socially “unhealthy”. 
 
Despite this, companies have been quick to see the marketing opportunities offered by China’s blogging addiction. In 2006, MSN China began putting advertisements on its MSN spaces. However, though the move brought in revenue for the company, many bloggers were angered by it, with some migrating to other blog platforms. The case made many in the industry put more thought into how to monetize their services without alienating their often vocal and opinionated user base.

“Bloggers may feel as if their online homes have been invaded if we put advertising on their blogs or change basic design without their permission,” Dou Yi, CEO of Blogbus.com, one of China’s largest blog platforms, told Interfax. 
 
Dou himself is a popular blog writer. He majored in finance, then worked in a securities company for eight years. However, his love of blogging led him to purchase Blogbus.com in 2003. 
 
In 2006, Blogbus received $3 million venture capital from Japan Asia Investment and Cyber Agent. According to Dou, Blogbus began turning a profit from the second quarter of 2007, largely due to its marketing method. 

Blogbus’s route to profitability

Although Blogbus does post advertisements directly on blog pages, Dou is keen to use other methods of generating revenue that will not disturb blog spaces. “Bloggers in China are very independently minded, which makes advertising on their blogs difficult,” Dou said. 
 
By tapping into this independence and the community spirit among bloggers, Dou has seen new ways of generating revenue, with the active participation of bloggers.

A Nielsen Online Global Customer Study in 2007 showed that people mainly trust

recommendations and opinions from other consumers, rather than branded Web sites and online banner advertisements. 
 
Dou said that Blogbus hopes to generate profit through this camaraderie between bloggers.”For example, we cooperated with Absolut Vodka to promote its Ice Bar in Shanghai last year.

We invited 60 bloggers to the Ice Bar, after which most wrote about the experience on their

blog. Absolut Vodka has continued to cooperate with us since,” Dou said. “Blogging’s nature makes it a perfect platform for product placement marketing. Rather than direct advertising by brands, bloggers write articles on their experiences of the brand,” Dou continued.  The method has generated millions of Renminbi in revenue for Blogbus, Dou said. 
 
Blogbus’s new plan 
 
According to Dou, blog marketing is the main source of Blogbus’s profit. In addition, one-fifth of its revenues come from its VIP users, who pay for additional services. These include design of blog spaces and help in migrating content from other platforms. VIP users are also allocated its own domain name, without “blogbus.com” appended to it.
 
Dou said 1 percent of the site’s users sign up for VIP services, for which they are each charged between RMB 100 ($14.29) and RMB 400 ($57.16) per year.
 
According to a CNNIC survey of 1,862 Chinese Internet users last November, 10 percent were willing to pay for their online space in order to receive more services while 6 percent of them hoped to share advertisement revenues generated by their blogs with their blog service runners. 
 
Dou is also considering partnering with advertisers to give prizes rather than cash to bloggers. The scheme will involve granting bloggers points for writing blogs, which can then be exchanged for prizes.

“However, Blogbus will offer more than blog services in the future. We aim at become a media company,” Dou said. 
 
Blogbus’s target users are mainly urban dwellers aged from 23 to 35. Dou said he will establish further businesses targeting those users in the next couple of years, including print media and live performance. Perhaps because of his background as an investment manager in a securities company, Dou differs from many other heads of Chinese Internet companies when it comes to his views regarding listing on the stock market. “A good company should continue generating profit.

Listing is only a return to its investors, rather than a goal for development,” Dou said.

Original article HERE.

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May 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 16 Comments