Youku and Partners See Success with Sponsored Original Content
August 4, 2011, Beijing -- Youku.com, Inc., (NYSE: YOKU) China's leading Internet television company (“Youku” or the “Company”), concluded the first season of its original animated serial drama "Miss Puff" on July 29. "Miss Puff" continued Youku Original's tradition of successful new media productions by ranking as one of the most popular programs on Youku Index, the Company's new media performance tracking and analysis system.
The success of "Miss Puff" did not come as a total surprise. Viewers were first introduced to the animated character in "Miss Puff's Goldfish Bowl," one of ten short films produced by Youku in partnership with General Motors (NYSE: GM) for last year's "11 Degrees" New Media Film Project, the all-time Youku Index movie record holder by total video views (79 million), total comments (126,000), upvotes (1 million thumbs-up), and social media retweets (more than 24 million). The project also gave birth to the hit short film "Old Boys," which made stars of its makers, whose follow-up "The Ultimate Winner" set the record for single-day video views (1.99 million) upon its exclusive Youku debut this spring.
"When GM was looking for new media partners, Youku's experience and vast audience made it the obvious choice," said Joan Ren, General Director of Chevrolet Sales & Marketing Department, Shanghai GM. "With '11 Degrees, tYouku’s professional production quality and passion for storytelling enable us to reach -- and engage -- an audience we never would have otherwise."
Youku Original has released 15 productions, 13 of which were placed in the monthly Top 20 most viewed rankings and 11 in the monthly Top 10 most viewed rankings on Youku Index at least once during the period in which they were aired. "Miss Puff," for instance, ranked the ninth most viewed serial drama on Youku Index in July 2011. As of the latest episode, the show gained a steadily growing audience throughout its first season. Users also fell for Miss Puff outside Youku, with over 32,000 SINA Weibo microbloggers following the in-character microblog account. Award-winning director Jia Zhangke was among the followers, and recommended the program to readers of his microblog.
"Miss Puff," produced in partnership with GM, Sony Ericsson, and Lenovo, is only one of Youku Original's major projects for 2011. "One Step Away," a Youku Original series of six short films produced in partnership with Philips, will be aired starting late August and present Chinese opinion leaders' thoughts on the meaning of happiness in today's China.
As China's internet users become more sophisticated consumers of media, established brands such as GM, Philips, Sony and Lenovo have found sponsored original content to be an effective way of reaching target audiences. Unlike traditional "hard-sell" product placement strategies, sponsored original programming allows advertisers to more subtly establish a rapport with viewers.
By tracking a broader range of metrics than traditional analytics software, Youku Index allows Youku Original partners to gain a more robust understanding of how users relate to their content. The system tracks viewer upvotes and downvotes, video retweets, and off-site embedding in blog posts and discussion forums, and takes into account demographic of viewers. Other metrics measure the staying power of content by tracking programs' position in Youku Index’s charts within given timeframes. Taken as a whole, Youku Index provides a multi-dimensional, context-rich record of a given video's past and present performance.
Youku Original is a key part of Youku's content strategy, which pursues a combination of licensed professionally produced content, in-house productions from Youku Original, and user-generated content.
Youku.com Inc. is China's leading Internet television company. Our Internet television platform enables users to search, view and share high-quality video content quickly and easily across multiple devices. Youku, which stands for "what's best and what's cool" in Chinese, is the most recognized online video brand in China. Youku's American depositary shares, each representing 18 of our Class A ordinary shares, are traded on NYSE under the symbol "YOKU."