Trend Alert: Qutoutiao

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

It wasn’t long ago that paying to access journalism was the norm. Now, not only do readers expect to access content for free, but in China, they can even be paid to read news articles.

An app called Qutoutiao has become a sensation in China’s smaller cities and rural areas by incentivising users to read their articles with digital coins, which can be exchanged for cash. This makes for an addictive experience, with users admitting they check it obsessively whenever they have free time. The referral scheme (you earn 8 yuan when you convince a friend to join) has helped the app to reach 20 million daily users. The highest earner has earned the equivalent of over $50,000.

While effective in growing the app’s user base, the expensive strategy puts huge pressure on Qutoutiao to turn a profit. With the digital landscape dominated by a few big players, such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent (one of Qutoutiao’s investors), these unusual tactics are necessary in order to stand a chance of competing. As Facebook, Google and Amazon tighten their control of the digital space for Western users, could we see new upstarts taking a similarly drastic measures to get a foot in the door?

If you’re interested in finding out more about the fascinating Chinese digital landscape, join us at YMS19 LDN where we will have a stage dedicated to Chinese Marketing, hosted by our friends at Qumin.

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