Daily Digital Pulse of China
Taobao Video Shopping - Will It Last?
Given that most Taobao sellers tend to use microblogging sites to promote their goods, is Taobao’s Youku-powered video promotion site a waste of time and money? The site is designed for experienced Taobao sellers who want to create a video archive of their products that looks professional. However, since the site’s launch earlier this year, it hasn’t exactly made a splash. What could be the reasons for this? Firstly, although Taobao sellers have the freedom to upload whatever kinds of videos they like to promote their products, which opens the door to many creative possibilities, many of them do not have advanced graphic design skills. The result of this is video content that looks unprofessional, which deters potential customers. Secondly, it is true that foreign and Chinese brands alike are increasingly using video as a promotion tool, but they are using larger, more established and respected video platforms to promote their products, such as Baidu Video Search, as well as their Tmall flagship stores and official websites. When a brand’s video content appears online, it embodies the brand. Therefore, video content has to be produced by people with the right skills and expertise, or the brand risks tarnishing its online profile. Faced with expertly designed video content, it seems unlikely that Taobao’s video site will be able to compete in the medium term, as more and more brands enter video SEO.
SEM and SEO in China
Search engines are big business in China – the market was worth ¥ 74billion in the second quarter of this year. The rise of search engines is part of a wider narrative – multichannel retail and big data. Search engine marketing (SEM) allows brands to tap in to consumers’ online activity. Search “jeep” in Baidu, you’ll see Cherokee, Land Rover and Mercedes Benz. It is estimated that 4 in every 10 online purchases in China begins like this – the user looks up a non-specific product name, encounters brand sites and/or advertising and browses until making a purchase. In today’s digital landscape however, SEM isn’t the only marketing tool brands have available to them. In the earlier days of network marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) and SEM were seen as competing marketing philosophies – you were either an “SEM guy” or an “SEO guy”. Some people even used them interchangeably, without knowing what they really meant. Now, the explosion of online retail means that brands don’t want to miss out on any potential customers - they don’t just want to use keywords and back end tools, they also want algorithms, link building, “white hat" and “black hat” techniques. Each brand, each site, is different. The reason for the variety of online marketing strategies is to give clients the choice, to suit their individual needs.
What does Sina Weibo – Taobao mean for small sellers?
When it comes to e-commerce in China, it’s easy to get distracted by negative headlines about the big players. “Aliababa and Tencent in WeChat 5.0 brawl”. “Sina Weibo is Alibaba’s microblogging pawn disguised as a business partner”. But think again – what about “the little guy?” Where are Taobao’s small sellers in the headlines? Take the recent Sina Weibo-Taobao partnership as an example. Behind the press releases, there are real benefits for people who use Taobao to make a little bit of extra money. For them, a synchronised Weibo-Taobao account really is a “one-stop shop”. Under the new system, Taobao merchants are given a special “blue” identity that enables them to access both Weibo and Taobao as the same user. This reduces the time sellers would otherwise have spent in switching from one website to the other using two separate accounts. It also moves their new markets, Weibo users, closer to them. The proximity of Weibo users and Taobao-Weibo sellers reduces barriers to entry – it is now easier for sellers to promote their products, receive feedback from microbloggers and build an online reputation in the Weibosphere than ever before..