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Introductions to China’s Popular Search Engines.

Today we are going to talk about the most popular search engines in China.

Before we start, let’s see something about SEO which matters a lot in China internet marketing. A quick definition of SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

So how does SEO relate with business in China? Have a look at CCDI’s Report on Investigation of Chinese Internet Marketing Service Condition which covers more than 1800 companies in 18 cities. In China’s developed areas there are 80.97% companies already using some form of internet marketing; and the backbone of internet strategy in China is SEO.

CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center): in 2010, the utilization rate of search engine reaches 76.3%, an increase of 3% compared to 2009; presently, the number of search engine users reaches 320 million and the half annual growth rate is 13.9%.

According to China Intelli Consulting Corporation the penetration rate of search engine keeps increasing and 91% of China’s netizens will use it at least once a month, 4% higher than last year. Furthermore, every single day, 58.8% of netizens will use search engines, 4.4% higher compared to last year. This is why so many Chinese companies do SEO work and why foreign business people pay more attention to these search engines.

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Engaging China’s Netizens; Activity + Reward.

From CIC, China’s netizen’s preferred activities online.

We see a distinct preference for Entertainment driven activities, followed by events and lottery. China’s social environment, both online and offline push emphasis for low-cost methods of interaction on the web, be it social or entertainment driven.

This leads us to rewards for interaction. China’s netizens tend to be practical, rather than gaining knowledge, they look to getting cash or gifts, or free product trials.

When Brands plan campaigns, its important to take into account what drives the average Chinese netizen; while there is connection and engagement with the Brand, this doesn’t come without addition costs in the form of rewards. while China’s market is not unique to rewards for interaction, it may be unique in its emphasis of the tangible over the intangible.

Hu Yanping, with the Data Center of China Internet (DCCI), gave a speech at a forum held in Beijing on Thursday. [Qiang Xiaoji/chinadaily.com.cn]

Chinese Netizens Create 50.7% of Total Internet Content.

Hu Yanping, with the Data Center of China Internet (DCCI), gave a speech at a forum held in Beijing on Thursday. Qiang Xiaoji/chinadaily.com.cn

From China Daily:

For the first time in history, Chinese Internet users have produced more content than professional websites.

Hu Yanping, of the Data Center of China Internet (DCCI), said the era of Web 2.0 has officially overtaken Web 1.0 as the amount of content generated by personal users on blogs, online forums, social networking sites (SNS) and question answers exceeded the amount contributed by professional organizations in news, search engines and e-commerce.

In the first half of this year, the content produced by Chinese Internet users accounted for 50.7 percent of the total, and content produced by professional websites accounted for 47.3 percent, according to statistics released by the Beijing-based DCCI on Thursday.

In the first six months, page views (PV) of SNS accounted for 50.1 percent of the total page views of all Web applications and services, according to statistics from DCCI. Page views of information providers kept decreasing to 8.8 percent of the total, the report said.

Also, Internet users lingered longer on video sites and SNS for entertainment than reading news or seeking information.

The Internet monitoring and research company also predicted that China’s Internet population will reach 469 million by the end of 2010, accounting for 35 percent of China’s total population, and the number will hit 718 million by 2013, accounting for 52.7 percent of the total.

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Prestige Brands Most Buzzed on RenRen & Qzone.

Complied by L2, the below graph shows brand buzz on one of China’s most popular SNS sites RenRen.com (a Facebook clone) and Qzone. From this we get a pretty good idea of buzz in English and Chinese, but further, we get a sense of populations across these social network sites.

You could almost see these two networks as reflective of tier1 cities (Renren) and below tier one cites. Population on Renren tends to be more educated, evidenced by English speaking ability taught in high school and college, vs. lower tiered cities that show less education, but greater overall population.

However, education isn’t necessarily an indicator of wealth; and its definitely not correlated to dreaming about wealth. China’s netizens think in parallel about major brands with BMW, Mercedes, and LV at top of mind as status symbols.

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How Smart Are Foreign Brands in China?

A survey of China’s prestige brands by L2 reveals interesting findings.

Amazing stats are 20% Brands focused on Chinese consumers that do not have a Chinese language website. While its understandable that ecommerce isn’t enabled for many sites due to issues spanning credit cards, trust purchasing online, as well as monster Taobao.com eating up about 75% of all ecommerce in China – it’s a complicated issue to say the least.

However what’s not complicated is localizing your website into Chinese; that one seems to be an oversight, and its interesting to see that many brands haven’t ticked this initial box. There is a lot of room for improvement, and a lot of room for growth.

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Day in the Digital Life: China’s Young Professionals.

According to BCG, China’s young professionals are quite digitally connected; however, when we scan their days we see a distinct difference in the manner they regard digital tools.

Key element is using digital primarily as a communication device; while younger teens and university students focus on social sharing, communication, MP3 downloads, etc – young professionals take a more practical approach to digital. That’s not to say its any less a part of their lives; we can venture to state that digital is more of a tool than a companion.

We see some integration of email, sms, digital news sprinkled throughout the day; digital, rather than being the goal of actions, is a simple means of enhancing actions.

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How Social Media Affects Chinese Buying Decisions.

From CIC, we can track the buying process Chinese netizens progress through before the buying decision is made.

Tracking the decision process for purchasing a netbook, we can see how the initial inquiry arises, and how a Brand is selected from the buzz. Netizens value collective opinion first, and then look to popular advocates second to confirm their decisions. Afterwards, netizens refer back online for maintenace and upkeep of their new purchase.

The relationship between products and the web is quite clear, while TV, newspaper and magazines may create awareness for Brands, its the web that creates engagement through social community from everything to popular opinions, review, recommendations and upkeep information.

This opens up new avenues of strategy for brands such as creating presence on BBS and forums where products are discussed, in addition to working with blogger advocates to help promotion of products.

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Day in the Digital Life: China’s Teens.

According to BCG, below is the day in the life of a typical Chinese teen, as it pertains to digital tools. As we can see from a quick glance, China’s youth are very connected digitally throughout their days.

Another clear theme is schoolwork and study; China’s youth are in an ultra competitive environment, and success hinges on their academic prowess; digital tools then, in a sense, help to relieve the solitary confinement of study, either by opening quick windows allowing for social communication and sharing, or by allowing a few moments of peaceful escape.

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China’s Luxury Market: 840 Million Potential Customers.

According to research compiled by L2, China’s luxury market is about to explode.

Interesting to note is the age groups of luxury buyers. China’s unique historical circumstances come into play, with 80% of luxury buyers under the age of 45. This makes luxury branding in China require a distinctly “young/modern” feel vs. the US and Japan.

With such large potential looming in the near future, luxury brands are beginning to enter the market in force. Whether they will succeed will be a careful balance between their brand values, Chinese taste, and their ability to localize their message and cost effectively communicate that message to Chinese audiences.

We can expect digital campaigns to be a large part of luxury brands entrance into China; we’ve seen evidence of this already from Lancome, Porsche, BMW and others.

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R3: Sohu China Portal Launches Groupon Clone.

From R3 Beijing; source: QQ

Sohu had just launched a group shopping site – tuan.sohu.com, which made Sohu the first portal site that joins the group buying competition in China. As reported, the site currently only offers single-product group shopping services in Beijing, which is very similar to other group shopping sites.

The data showed that there are approximately 400 Chinese group shopping sites launched in the last three months. The key reason for the booming is because of the low standard in terms of qualification, several-thousand-Yuan investment would be enough for an easy start-up.

Some experts believe that since the group shopping sites phenomenon has just started in China, Sohu is obviously seeking the chance to take lead.

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Chinese Internet Activity by Income Level.

From Synovate China Media Atlas; how different income levels interact online.

Higher income level netizens lead interaction across China’s web. This is quite interesting; as targeting the more intelligent, higher income Chinese requires digital engagement, whereas lower income, lower tiered Chinese are better targeted via television and mobile.

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China’s Digital Preferences.

From Synovate China Media Atlas; measurement of China’s top media channels.

Clear preference for digital via internet and mobile. TV continues to hold on, but expect this to decrease as future generations split their time across engaging digital medium vs. passive TV entertainment.