Why China’s Spring Festival Gala is a major promotions vehicle for Big Tech firms
- The annual CCTV show’s vast audience – more than 1.2 billion last year – makes it an ideal platform for Big Tech companies to attract new users
- ByteDance-owned short video app operator Douyin gave away US$186 million worth of digital red packets during this year’s show
In recent years, this CCTV production – the world’s most-watched national network TV broadcast, according to Guinness World Records – has also become a must-see show because of the large-scale promotions by China’s major technology companies.
The show’s vast audience makes it the ideal platform for Big Tech firms to launch campaigns centred on giving away massive amounts of hongbao – the traditional red packet containing cash and given as a gift – in digital form to further engage its users and attract new consumers.
In five time slots during the show, Douyin users were able to tap virtual red packets on the app to receive random cash rewards, which ranged from less than one yuan to 2,021 yuan. Users across the country interacted with this promotion about 70.3 billion times, according to Douyin on Friday.
Douyin, which had 600 million daily active users as of August 2020, launched its Spring Festival Gala promotion with the aim to build a critical mass of new followers, according to Tanner of China Skinny.
There is much at stake for China’s Big Tech firms in digital red packet campaigns at the Spring Festival Gala, which had an audience of more than 1.2 billion last year.
Alipay and WeChat Pay had a 55.4 per cent share and 38.5 per cent share, respectively, in China’s mobile third-party payment market at the end of June last year, according to data from research firm Analysys.
The Spring Festival Gala may have seen some decline in popularity in recent years, as younger viewers moved on to less traditional holiday entertainment. But that has not stopped China’s Big Tech firms from pursuing a partnership with CCTV to attract more consumers through the show.
To be sure, not all digital hongbao campaigns in the annual show have been a roaring success.
Days after the broadcast, the popularity of Baidu’s apps quickly declined. The Sinolink report said Baidu’s utility apps, including its search app and map app, lacked social and content elements that made it hard for the company to keep most of the users it attracted during the Spring Festival Gala.
Outside the exclusive Spring Festival Gala sponsorship, internet platforms have also given away digital red packets through their own Lunar New Year campaigns. They reward users with cash when they participate in certain tasks on their apps, as a means to drive engagement. It is a strategy that could pay off this year, as more people spend the holiday at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Baidu is distributing 2.2 billion yuan worth of digital hongbao through its range of apps. Alibaba is also distributing 2 billion yuan in digital red packets this year through a range of activities, including paying for lucky users’ shopping trolley items.