How Dongtu brought brands into mobile messaging in China
CHINA has a strong preference for digital. That’s a default that companies have had to adapt to — and those that have made the transition successfully have been rewarded adequately by the market.
That digital nature of the country and its people is what attracted digital marketing professional Grant Long to the country after working on successful digital communications and branding projects in New York.
Long moved to Shanghai, China in 2016 to set up Dongtu, a business that is similar to GIPHY in many respects — and sees customers download 2 billion GIFs every day and calls itself China’s “largest micro-content platform”.
Tech Wire Asia caught up with Dongtu’s Long to understand why China seemed like an attractive market and what the company aims to deliver to brands and customers.
“If you look at the activity of the consumer on the internet, the most used function, by far is mobile messaging. In China, that trend is even more pronounced, with consumers using chat to interact with friends as well as businesses.”
Dongtu, with its terabytes of GIFs, stickers, and other media, aims to help the Chinese people better express themselves when communicating with each other via mobile messaging apps.
While the content that the platform offers to users — on mobile messaging platforms such as WeChat and Weibo is meant to engage and excite them and encourage them to share it with friends and family, it’s also a great way to get brands a richer mechanism to make an impression on consumers.
Traditional GIFs are essentially short video clips without any sound, but Long quickly understood that the way to engage with the sophisticated market in China is to provide them with something that’s more entertaining.
“Dongtu is able to use file formats other than just the traditional GIF, meaning that we’re able to activate the message with a bit of sound. The reactions to this, of course, are phenomenal among our target audience.”
What Long essentially does, therefore, is helps create an avenue for brands to get into the mobile messaging experience that dominates communications and transactions in China.
Be it McDonald’s, Sony, or anybody else, Dontu is working with brands to create engaging content, and helping users discover branded content first using the search function on its micro-content platform (as a part of the sponsorship agreement).
Long agrees that the company is still young and has a long way to go. Dongtu is experimenting with Snapchat-like virtual reality filters and looking at new media formats and functions that make the platform more interesting.
The reality, however, is that when brands are keen on creating engaging content on such platforms, they stop chasing impressions and go after long-term brand building — which is ultimately what drives marketers like Dongtu’s Long and Giphy’s Alex Chung to create exciting formats and platforms for mobile messaging.