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Sun Microsystems co-founder McNealy looking to team up with Weibo

US technology guru wants to change the way major advertisers measure and drive their global marketing campaigns

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 November, 2015, 7:39pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 November, 2015, 7:39pm

US technology guru Scott McNealy, the outspoken co-founder of Sun Microsystems, is looking to team up with Chinese microblogging service Weibo in an initiative to change the way major advertisers measure and drive their global marketing campaigns.

Forming that alliance would enable digital media analytics start-up Wayin, which McNealy leads as chief executive, to harness relevant content from China’s largest social network and package it for marketers to use in their campaigns in real time.

“What Uber did to [disrupting transport] logistics, we’re going to do to traditional media buying,” McNealy said. “Brands are spending billions of dollars on television and print advertising, as well as on static billboards and naming stadiums, but they’re not getting any guaranteed return [on their investment].”

What Uber did to [disrupting transport] logistics, we’re going to do to traditional media buying
Scott McNealy

He said “properly curated, moderated and placed social media is more engaging, persuasive and reassuring [to consumers]”.

Wayin, which McNealy co-founded five years ago, has existing alliances with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other large social networks with publicly published content.

It says its analytics operation processes more than half a billion pieces of social media content every day for a fast-growing client list, which includes Coca-Cola, Nike, Fox Studios, The Weather Channel, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Cyperport and the Lane Crawford Joyce Group.

Each Wayin client makes use of a digital dashboard on which their preferred campaign measurements are monitored.

“You can put all of your key performance indicators, such as time on site, retweets, click to buy, photo uploads, registrations and whatever else is important to you,” McNealy said. “We show you how we run the campaign and how much value we create every day.”

One Wayin customer, online newspaper Sporting News, largely tracked time on site and pages viewed.

“Why? Because they have advertising,” McNealy said. “The more time on site a user spends and the more pages viewed, the more money Sporting News can make on advertising.”

Nasdaq-listed Weibo, which had 212 million monthly active users in the second quarter, remains an untapped resource for major advertisers to measure their campaigns in the world’s second-biggest economy.

McNealy said Wayin could help Weibo be “more international”, bringing specific conversations in its network to brands around the world.

“We have received a lot of requests outside of China for Weibo data, including from big advertising agencies,” said Andy Lau, the managing partner at Hong Kong-based digital consultancy ICGX. The firm works with Wayin throughout Asia, excluding Japan.

A survey last month by Tencent and Penguin Intelligence found that 41 per cent of social network users in mainland China aged 20 years and below shared their personal thoughts, as opposed to 36.8 per cent for respondents aged 21 years and above.

Research firm eMarketer estimated that for each social network user on the mainland, advertisers will spend US$7.09 to reach them this year – up from about US$2 last year.

Lau said he was positive on the overtures for a proposed Weibo alliance with Wayin, but added that there was no specific timeline to complete that deal.