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China Digital Digest Weekly: Exploring the Chinese Digital Landscape

Hi folks, we are back with our weekly edition of China’s Digital Digest, wherein we bring you weekly updates on China’s digital space. The report takes a quick glance at China’s complex and rapidly evolving social media landscape by providing updates on the latest happenings across the social media industry. Here are the major highlights of the report.


1. TikTok Owner Denies Report of Profit Surge



ByteDance, the owner of short video app TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin, has denied a news report saying the company’s profits jumped 60 percent last year, as it plans two new apps – one to rival Instagram and another targeting European users – amid political headwinds against TikTok in the United States.



Bloomberg News reported that ByteDance’s profit surged over US$40 billion in 2023, prompting the Beijing-based company to issue an official post on its news aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao, saying the purported financial figures “were untrue”. Bloomberg's report, which cited "people familiar with the matter", said the company's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization soared to more than $40 billion from around $25 billion in 2022. The report said sales also grew to nearly $120 billion from $80 billion.


2. China’s Suzhou City Plans to Become Cross-Border E-Commerce Hub



The hi-tech manufacturing hub of Suzhou has unveiled a plan to double the city’s cross-border e-commerce annually for the next three years, as it looks to tap into the growing influence of Chinese platforms such as Shein and PPD Holdings’ Temu.



The municipal government of the city in eastern Jiangsu province has issued a policy document aimed at accelerating local business digitalization, attracting top cross-border e-commerce projects, and building a robust ecosystem for related businesses, according to a recently published government document. If Suzhou can double its e-commerce exports and imports every year, the city’s annual turnover will amount to 150 billion yuan (US$20.7 billion) by 2026.


3. JD.Com Offers US$138 Million in Cash Incentives to Boost Video Content



Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com said it will offer 1 billion yuan (US$138 million) in cash incentives to drive video content on its platform, as live-stream shopping becomes mainstream in the Chinese market.



Qualified influencers across 20 subject areas, including electronic devices, household goods, fashion, skincare, and car accessories, can receive up to 30,000 yuan as a weekly bonus, according to a company statement. In addition to cash, the creators, who either post videos reviewing products or conduct live-streaming sessions to promote and sell them, will receive “more exposure” for their content, JD.com said.


4. Amazon China Lays Off Employees, Some Staff Have Received Emails



Some employees of Amazon China have reportedly received layoff notification emails from headquarters.



The leaked email content shows that Amazon claimed to have optimized teams in other business areas and found “redundancies in job categories such as project management and sales operations,” leading to the reduction of hundreds of positions in specific sales, marketing, and global service organizations. Amazon had previously announced that it would lay off hundreds of employees in its cloud computing department AWS as part of a ‘strategic shift.’


At the same time, Amazon will also cut hundreds of positions in the team responsible for physical store technology. Amazon stated at the time that it would also make cuts elsewhere to invest in other business priorities.


5.TikTok Launches Enhanced Ad Placement Controls



TikTok’s adding “Category Exclusion” and “Vertical Sensitivity” controls, providing more ways to dictate where your TikTok ads appear.



Category Exclusion will enable advertisers to control whether their ads are shown next to four content in four categories, namely Gambling & Lotteries, Violent Video Games, Combat Sports, and Youth Content. The capacity to exclude videos in these subject areas will enable brands to avoid any unwanted association with sometimes objectionable content.


Vertical Sensitivity, meanwhile, will enable advertisers to select their vertical, in order to exclude content that they may consider misaligned with their brand positioning. TikTok will provide eleven verticals to choose from, including Pets, Beauty, Food, Fashion/Retail, Travel, Financial Services, Technology, Automotive, Gaming, Professional Services and Entertainment.


6. TikTok Shares Research on the Benefits of Creating Multilingual Ads



TikTok has released its latest research report, conducted in partnership with NRG, which looks at how TikTok users respond to bilingual ads and the approaches that brands can take to help boost their promotions across language barriers.



TikTok’s research found that voiceovers had the greatest impact on upper- and mid-funnel metrics, including brand perception, connection, and consideration when compared to English-only ads. The research also shows that, with Spanish-speaking audiences in the U.S., ads that use a mix of languages resonate most with bilingual speakers. Interestingly, the data also shows that English-speaking audiences appreciate brands that go to effort to be more inclusive by including other languages in their promotions.


Wrapping Up

The vast and diverse nature of the Chinese Social Media space makes it incredibly challenging to keep a tab on the rapid developments taking place. However, China’s Digital Digest brings you all the latest updates from there to keep you abreast of all the evolving trends.


To delve deeper into the findings of our latest report, click here.

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