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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 Tests 60-Minute Videos, Expanding Into YouTube’s Territory

TikTok, the short video platform originally popular for its 15-second lip-synching content, is now testing 60-minute video uploads with certain creators, in a challenge to veteran online video giant YouTube.

The feature allows users to upload from both the mobile app and desktop. The company said that the function is available to a limited group of users in select markets, but that it does not have immediate plans for an official launch. The increased time limit gives creators the flexibility to experiment with new or expanded types of content.

TikTok has gradually increased the maximum length of its videos. When ByteDance acquired and merged it into the nascent TikTok app in 2018, it had a 15-second time limit to record videos, and one minute for uploads. The upload limit was extended to three minutes in 2021, and 10 minutes less than a year later. In January this year, the platform started to test the ability to upload 30-minute videos.

2. Alibaba Works With Douyin to Attract New Users Ahead of Midyear Shopping Festival

Alibaba Group Holding’s Taobao and Tmall Group is working with ByteDance-owned Douyin to attract users from the Chinese short video platform, as the e-commerce giant spends hundreds of billions of yuan for its promotions in the mainland’s annual midyear shopping festival.

The domestic e-commerce unit of Alibaba recently joined hands with Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, to help merchants on the Taobao and Tmall platforms acquire customers from the short video app’s users, according to information provided by the group. The so-called “Star Cube Plan”, jointly launched by Alibaba-affiliated digital marketing platform Alimama and Douyin’s digital marketing tool Xingtu, aims to help the merchants achieve “marketing on Douyin, transaction on Taobao”, according to Taobao and Tmall Group.

3. China’s Ecommerce Market Still Has ‘Ample Room’ For Growth: JPMorgan Analyst

China’s e-commerce market has the potential to further expand in the next few years amid improved penetration by internet platform operators into key sectors, despite a slowdown in retail sales, according to a senior JPMorgan analyst.

That upbeat forecast reflects the better-than-expected financial results of Chinese Big Tech companies in the March quarter, despite increased market competition, weak consumer confidence and trade uncertainties brought by geopolitical tensions. Earlier this month, both Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings beat their quarterly earnings forecast, providing a positive indicator for domestic consumption in the world’s second-largest economy, which has the biggest number of internet users.

4. JD.Com Beats Estimates As Price Cuts Pay Off In First-Quarter Results beat analysts’ estimates to report a 7 percent increase in first-quarter sales, nearly a year after the Chinese e-commerce giant doubled down on a strategy to support more small merchants selling cheap goods on its platform amid increased industry competition and weak domestic consumption.

The Beijing-based company said revenue rose to 260 billion yuan (US$36 billion) in the March quarter, from about 243 billion yuan a year earlier, on the back of electronics, home appliances, general merchandise and logistics services income. That was ahead of the 257.72 billion yuan average forecast from 21 analysts’ estimates compiled by the London Stock Exchange Group. Net income attributable to shareholders was up nearly 14 percent to 7.1 billion yuan, compared with about 6.3 billion yuan in the same period last year.

5. PDD’s Temu Shopping App Hit With EU Consumer Rights Complaint

Chinese fast-fashion e-commerce retailer Temu was hit with a European Union complaint over a potential breach of online content rules by the PDD Holdings-owned business.

Under the European Union’s Digital Services Act, online marketplaces and intermediaries are required to fight illegal and harmful content as well as counterfeit products on their platforms. Pan-European consumers organisation BEUC said it has lodged a grievance with the European Commission while 17 of its members in countries including France, Italy and the Netherlands have also filed complaints with their relevant national authorities.

Temu, with 75 million monthly EU users as of March, often failed to provide consumers with crucial information about the sellers on its platform and whether their products met EU product safety requirements, BEUC said. The complaint said that Temu uses manipulative practices such as dark patterns to get consumers to spend more than they may want and that there was insufficient information on how it recommends products to consumers.

6. Alibaba, Tencent Beat Forecasts, Auguring Well For China’s Earnings

Alibaba Group Holding, one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, has reported a 10 percent jump in net profit, its biggest annual earnings growth since 2021, as its revenue beat analysts’ forecasts in the financial year that ended on March 31.

On the other hand, the net profit at Tencent Holdings, the world’s largest games publisher, jumped by 62 percent in the first quarter, while sales rose 6 percent. The outlook for profitability among Chinese companies looks bright because China’s economic growth is showing signs of stabilising after emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. That is a relief for investors, helping them recover from the 4 percent average decline in first-quarter net income among the 5,000 companies listed on the stock exchanges of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Earnings had fallen earlier because consumers had refrained from spending amid a property slump.

7. ByteDance Releases DouBao Large Model

On May 15, ByteDance officially released its DouBao large model. Currently, the DouBao large model processes 120 billion tokens of text daily and generates 30 million images.

At the press conference, Tan Dai, the president of Bytedance’s cloud service Volcano Engine, disclosed the commercial price of the DouBao large model — the main model of DouBao is priced at 0.0008 yuan per thousand tokens in the enterprise market, meaning it can process more than 1500 Chinese characters at a price of 0.8 cents, which is 99.3% cheaper than the industry average price. The price of models of the same specification on the market is generally 0.12 yuan per thousand tokens, which is 150 times the price of the DouBao model.

8. ByteDance Acquires The Audio Brand Oladance

According to various media reports, ByteDance acquired OWS company’s Oladance brand Dashi Technology in March this year, for a purchase price between 300-500 million RMB. Currently, ByteDance team members have already moved into Dashi Technology.

It is understood that since 2022, ByteDance has initiated an AR glasses project. This acquisition of Oladance may be an important move for ByteDance to launch AI glasses and AI phones. Oladance is an audio brand under Shenzhen Dashi Future Technology Co., Ltd., focusing on the field of OWS open wearable audio products. The company’s founder Li Haoqian and core technical team members all come from BOSE.

9. TikTok Launches New Media Buying Certification

TikTok has announced a new certification, in addition to its “TikTok University” initiative, with marketing pros now able to obtain an official “Media Buying” qualification, that they can then display to showcase their platform expertise.

TikTok’s Media Buying qualification is based on system knowledge, which is tested in an exam. And while there’s no accompanying course as such (as is the case with the usual TikTok University offerings), there is a 124-page study guide to brush up on your TikTok ads understanding, which covers all aspects of TikTok ads. TikTok says that the course is geared towards marketers that are familiar with TikTok for Business, and have experience running TikTok campaigns.

10. TikTok Launches Fan Spotlight To Boost Music Promotions

TikTok has announced a new Fan Spotlight for artists, with Eilish as the model, which will provide more ways for musicians to prompt engagement with fans in the app, helping to maximize their reach.

This could be a great way to spark more engagement with music fans in the app, with users able to get recognition from the artists that they love, by posting tribute videos, and helping to spread the word about their releases. That forms a significant promo cycle, adding more incentive for fan videos, which are then amplified by artists, inspiring more content throughout the app. And with TikTok now playing a key role in music discovery, that could be a powerful draw for more musicians to make TikTok a focus.

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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