Interactive Features of the Internet-based Information Platform

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, November 6, 2008
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By Charles Chao

CEO/President of SINA Corporation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As is the case with many other Chinese Internet news portals, SINA's experience shows that the interactive functions of the Internet-based information platform are growing in importance.

The first point I would like to make is this: as technology advances, new means of interaction emerge, and investment in interactive platforms is also expanding.

As one of the biggest Chinese Internet portals, SINA's interactive platforms include the traditional BBS, and news comments, along with a developing blogging service that has expanded rapidly over the past three years due to the upgrade of our technology platforms, and online video sharing as a result of the growth in broadband usage. Other platforms include post bars centered around topics like business and stock markets, and instant messaging tools and SNS (Social Networking Services) focused on socializing activities. Users get additional information through these interactive tools, while SINA gets increased traffic, since the interactive platforms help boost user activity and stickiness.

Over the past few years, SINA has increased its spending on improving technology and editorial staff. In 2005, a blog editorial team was formed to sort the blogs and pick interesting ones from the vast numbers submitted by users.

SINA bloggers post an average of more than 600,000 blogs every day, which already surpasses the number of stories, pictures and video clips provided by SINA’s traditional content partners – thousands of newspapers, magazines and TV stations. SINA Blog now contributes 25 percent of the total PVs of SINA, and 38 percent of the total of SINA’s unique users. These proportions are still increasing.

Ever since its founding, SINA has always made great use of interactive features. It was the first Website to launch BBS and news comment services in China. As early as 1998, during the FIFA World Cup in France, soccer fans all over China shared their excitement and their views on the Sports Salon soccer forum of, SINA's predecessor.

A lot of users say that an important incentive for them to browse news on SINA is the various comments posted under the news stories, through which they can access other users' opinions on specific issues. Some corporate CEOs gather users' feedback on their products or services through users' news comments, while government officials can gauge public opinion on a variety of policies, e.g. the proposal to raise train fares during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) holiday.

At present, there are normally around 500,000 news comments posted on SINA daily. In the case of major breaking news stories, the figure soars even higher. On some hot topics, a single news report can generate hundreds of thousands of posts. For example, during the Beijing Olympics, news of Liu Xiang quitting the 110-m hurdle match drew more than 250,000 comments in the first 12 hours. And in the special coverage of the May 12 Sichuan Earthquake, the total number of users' comments over the first month exceeded 5 million.

In 2006, SINA set up a podcast editorial team to sort user-uploaded video clips and pick the most interesting ones, as well as to improve the users' podcasting experience on the current technological platform. Now, SINA users upload about 40,000 video clips each day, some of which are shot by semi-professional DV makers.

My second point is as follows: the content of user interaction serves not only as a source of news, but is also shaping the course of media reporting itself.

Blogging has become the fastest and most influential way of interaction. It is changing people's approach to communication and the media's approach to broadcasting. Like online surveys, blogs have become an important channel for Web users to voice their opinions.

Take SINA Blog for example. To date, 12 bloggers boast over 100,000,000 PVs each, and nearly 300 bloggers have PVs of more than 10,000,000. The content of the blogs range through current affairs, business, sports, entertainment, and culture, to science and education - almost everything, in fact, that the press covers. These bloggers present their views and comments on hot issues and social phenomena, and then SINA editors sort through the blogs and group similar blogs together according to their topic. Reporters often collect the opinions presented in these blogs and use them in their reporting. Some of the opinions expressed in the blogs have advanced beyond simply being the subject of media reporting, to helping shape action on the relevant issues.

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