By Tracey Xiang
Weibo, often referred to as the Twitter of China, has take a serious hit over the last two years as social messaging phenomenon WeChat rocketed to the number one social media outlet in China. Seven years old this month, Weibo recorded 126 million daily active users during their second quarter results released yesterday, a fraction of the 570 million recorded by WeChat.
But while they may have lost their edge as the top social media service, the company claims to be on the upswing due to the explosive popularity of China’s live streaming market.
According to CEO Wang Gaofei, Weibo has made some serious gains in the few months since they launched their live streaming service. Unlike other platforms that invite average users to generate content, Weibo’s Yizhibo relies strongly on celebrities and influencers from various industries to drive views, only allowing verified accounts to use live streaming.
Few other Chinese live video streaming services are able to do this. Weibo remains the default social marketing platform for the entertainment and content industries (think twitter before Instagram and Snapchat). Weibo says they also plumped up the service with a handful of exclusive deals with content and marketing companies.
It’s not clear whether Weibo’s service will continue to target verified influencers in the future. The company says they plans to take a cut from the existing live video market, where stars emerge from grassroots content.
Weibo’s Yizhibo has also enabled virtual gift giving and purchasing, a major revenue driver for existing services. The company currently doesn’t take revenue cuts from the gifts broadcasters receive, though they will in the future. Competing Chinese mobile social app Momo saw the virtual gift sales becoming their largest revenue stream just months after they enabled virtual gifts.
Weibo’s live video streaming service will also explore monetization opportunities in e-commerce, according to Mr. Wang.
Partnering with a Third-Party Developer To Slash Risks
Yizhibo wasn’t developed by Weibo, but by Yixia Technology, an online video service developer in which Weibo’s parent, Sina, is an early investor.
Weibo has also been driving views with the help of two apps also developed by Yixia, video clip sharing app Miaopai and lip sync app Xiaokaxiu. They’ve also benefited from the large celebrity contingent that is supported by the marketing resources of Weibo.
Weibo began seeing rapid growth in video views, especially short videos, last year. Daily video views grew 489 percent year-over-year to 470 million in the first quarter of this year, the company claims. Currently 89 percent of their users are mobile.
Partnering with Yixia Technology has provided a more cost-effective (and less risky) means of driving growth for Weibo. Primarily, the company won’t bear the brunt of content costs for the three apps, which will likely increase considerably in the years to come. Yixia Technology hadn’t yet started paying for any content uploaded onto Yizhibo live-streaming platform as of March this year, CEO Han Kun said perviously in an interview. The company plans to begin monetization this year through marketing campaigns for movies and TV series.
Weibo has already begun allowing brand advertisers to purchase and display ad placements on videos shared from Yixia services. Video advertising will be a major revenue driver, according to Weibo management.
Established in 2011, Yixia Technology announced 200 million yuan (about US$16 million) in Series D funding, at a reported valuation of $1 billion USD, in late 2015 from a group of investors including Sina and YG Entertainment, one of the biggest entertainment companies in South Korea.
Source:: Weibo Bets On Celebrities And Influencers To Boost Their Live Streaming Plans