Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo is doing well at attracting users and building engagement, but it has yet to figure how to properly monetize its efforts. The company has announced its latest attempt: an advertising scheme that will display headline ads to users for brands they follow.
TechWeb noted (via Tech in Asia) that, when the ads begin rolling out, users will see promoted messages at the top of their streams from brands that they follow. The sponsored posts will appear only once every 24 hours and will drop down the feed the same way normal messages do. Businesses will pay a cost-per-fan (CPF) rate for the ads, which are now listed as Fan Headlines instead of Sponsored Posts. Sina is currently beta testing the scheme.
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Sina CEO, and newly-appointed chairman of the board, Charles Chao said last month during an earnings call that the company would launch a “self-support advertising system for SMEs and for individual users” later this year. Weibo has yet to turn a profit for Sina, and the company has reassured investors that it is investing energy in finding a monetization solution. Sina will also upgrade its payment, credit, data systems and other infrastructure this year as it moves toward profitability.
For the first three years of Weibo’s existence, Sina has taken an “if you build it, they will come” approach, focusing first on growing an active user base. With 368 million accounts and 36.5 million daily users last quarter, the strategy has worked, even if it has yet to pay off in actual money. Rising costs, however, have put pressure on Sina to focus on monetization.