BEIJING - If there is any Internet service that has quickly won the hearts of most users over the past two years, the micro blog may proudly claim it. Every second, numerous entries appear from enthusiasts sharing their thoughts.
The service is not just a pleasure for users, however. As it increases in popularity, some have turned to it not for fun, but for profit.
Adsit Media Corporation, a Beijing-based Internet advertising company, is one of them.
"Many people are trying to make full use of the new social media craze to explore new business opportunities," said Cindy Xue, chief operations officer of the company.
Adsit launched its micro blog-targeted advertising service, Weibo Pie, in May, hoping for a slice of the tempting confection.
By analyzing users' micro blog content and posting habits, the service is intended to help an advertiser distinguish and attract potential customers.
Adsit uses "active bloggers", whose followers include advertisers' potential customers, to spread information that can improve company recognition or facilitate real business transactions. It has been cooperating with about 1 million "active bloggers" - those with between 200 and 30,000 followers - to forward advertisers' messages and campaigns.
"'Active bloggers' are just like Wifi spots, each radiating within a certain space. When they come together, we can cover a big space - a large number of potential customers," said Xue.
The company rewards "active bloggers" with gifts or money for spreading useful information.
The number of micro blog users in China is forecast to reach 100 million this year and rise to 253 million by 2013, according to Beijing-based research company Data Center of China Internet (DCCI). This compares with the country's Internet population of 457 million by the end of last year. The rise of social media has brought about demand for analyzing social and interactional data on it.
Aaron Hsin, Greater China president of Teradata Corporation, one of the world's largest data warehousing companies, said customers that already have some experience in data analysis are looking for more nowadays.
"They are looking at how to create a second, third, and even more business opportunities with data such as online buying habits," he said.
The company expects that a most important part of data analysis in the future will come from social media, Web logs and telecommunications.
According to DCCI, total revenues from social advertising in China reached 1.06 billion yuan ($164 million) last year, up 35.3 percent from 2009. The figure is expected to hit 1.53 billion yuan this year, and 14.4 billion yuan in 2015, stimulated by the rise of social media.
Xue of Adsit said she expects that half of the company's revenues will come from Weibo Pie by next year. Currently, the major business of the company is traditional Internet advertising.
Meanwhile, major micro blogs have started to provide value-added services for corporate users on a trial basis.
Charles Chao, chief executive officer of China's largest Internet portal Sina Corp, said the company will try different methods of generating revenue, such as advertising and e-commerce, to capitalize on Sina Weibo's increasing popularity in China. Sina Weibo had 140 million users by the end of April.
(China Daily 06/13/2011 page17)