Alibaba is Going All-In on Digital Content

Many people around the world may not quite be aware of it, but Alibaba is not just a major Internet sales giant based in China. Alibaba currently operates the largest online shopping marketplace in all of China, and they’re currently trying to get as many retailers as possible to start thinking of Tmall and its sister website, Taobao, as much more than simply virtual shelf space where they can list and sell their products. Tmall is an integral part of what Zhang called Alibaba’s e-commerce media ecosystem that is successful at reaching consumers via a number of digital channels. It is also capable of carrying marketing messages to more than just the 407,000,000 active users annually on the Alibaba Chinese retail marketplace.

During the last two years, Alibaba has built ties with all of the most popular digital media outlets in China with investments and partnerships like the company’s interests in Sina Weibo, which is a microblogging website, as well as its acquisition of UCWeb, which is the leading mobile browser provider in China. Alibaba also plans on buying out Youku Tudou, which happens to be the largest video-streaming website in China. And, since Alibaba Cloud has more than 2,300,000 customers worldwide, which includes approximately 651,000 paying clients, it’s China’s biggest cloud infrastructure service provider. It also was ranked among the top five worldwide in 2015. These figures are according to IDC, which is a major market research firm.

The new data centers are expected to further expand the footprint and ecosystem of Alibaba Cloud global. That should enable Alibaba to meet increasing demands for scalable secure cloud computing services aimed at worldwide businesses and industries.

The push into Digital Media

All of these investments are aiming at assisting merchants worldwide with running multichannel marketing and advertising campaigns targeting the raising of their brand awareness and driving Tmall sales. One example is that, by simply using Alibaba, retailers have the ability of placing multiple ads and building their very own singular brand content by using two UCWeb products, each of which has users in the hundreds of millions. Those two products are UC Headline, which is a mobile search engine, and Shenma Search. Alibaba also has Taobao Headline, which is a shopping news media app, and Weitao, which is a Mobile Taobao social media feature for allowing merchants the ability for interaction with their users via their smartphones, by utilizing video, text, and interactive campaigns. The key to reaching the necessary audiences is data via properly targeted campaigns and special product recommendations that are aimed at individual consumers. Alibaba is already collecting valuable user data by using the company’s online shopping sites, as well as related media sharing.

The fact is that the majority of consumers probably still see Alibaba as just an online “cheap stuff from China” site. But, the fact is that it also has a major entertainment division. Who knew? And, in spite of all of this, the fact is that the majority of consumers still probably see Alibaba as just an online “cheap stuff from China” site. But, the fact is that it also has a major entertainment division. Who knew? Well, everybody seems to know all about it now, since all of a sudden Alibaba’s in the news a lot these days since they are investing a ton of money in new content for their entertainment division. The time period for this investment is scheduled for three years and the amount is an amazing $7.2 billion! This has been confirmed by Reuters and an Alibaba spokesperson. Alibaba has a number of media holdings and they include Alibaba Pictures, Alibaba Literature, Alibaba Gaming, Alibaba Music, UCWeb, and Youku Tudou.

The interesting thing about China is that they have actually banned Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, and YouTube in their country’s digital media market. Not sure why that is, but perhaps it’s to give the Chinese companies an opportunity to compete in that market. Because of the ban, the fast-growing Chinese market is dominated by the local digital media market players that are currently growing very quickly. Those players include Baidu, for example, which is Alibaba’s biggest direct competitor. They are currently reported to have a plan in place for their video streaming division, iQiyi, to the tune of a billion dollar IPO.

Behind the Team

Yu Yongfu has been the CEO of Alibaba’s Digital Media and Entertainment Group since October 2016, right around the same time that Alibaba underwent a consolidation of its media holdings. He originally became a part of Alibaba back in 2014. He is also now CEO and the chairman of Alibaba Pictures group, which is the company’s filmmaking subsidiary. Alibaba Pictures made a recent investment in Steven Spielberg and his Amblin Partners. In addition, the division also made a commitment to finance “The Warriors”, which is characterized as a young adult film. David Heyman will be producing the film and you may know him well as the producer of the “Harry Potter” films.

Heyman may have stated that it doesn’t constitute a franchise yet, however APG has issued a confirmation that it purchased all of the global film adaptation rights to “The Warriors” and that includes the whole series of books that the film is based upon and that’s a whopping 36-volumes. Filmmakers and fans alike will surely be watching Alibaba Pictures to see what else they’ll be coming out with. Could they give Hollywood studios a run for their money? Only time will tell. To date, Chinese films have never rivaled anything Hollywood has to offer, but judging from the type of filmmaking talent that they’re aligning themselves with, all of that could change in a heartbeat.

Either way, not only could Alibaba Pictures be a big winner, but the moviegoing public could be as well. There’s nothing like a little competition to bring out the very best in filmmakers the world over. But, for now, we’ll all just have to look forward to “The Warriors” and whatever may come after it in the grand scheme of things that is relative to Alibaba.

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