The China Landscape: Short Video

The China Landscape: Short Video

China   27th February 2018 - Catalyst Agency

What are short videos? They are videos under 5 minutes long, either on desktop or mobile platforms. The format has matured significantly since inception 2004. Today, the leading short video platforms have formed strategic partnerships with some of China’s biggest online and technology brands.

China Short Video Overview

1. Tencent

  • Invested in: Kuaishou, Qzone and WeChat
  • Added: video functionality

2. Sina

  • Invested in: Miaopai
  • Added: Miaopai video functions in Weibo content generation process

3. Alibaba

  • Changes:
  • Taobao started to adopt content marketing, launching a series of 3-5 minute short videos - called the Taobao 2nd Floor program. The series would launch every Wednesday and Thursday at 10 pm to encourage shopping at night. On the first day of launch, it received 328,000 clicks.
  • Invested in:
  • Tudou
  • Added: Began expanding into short video markets

4. Toutiao

  • Created: Tigua Video, Huoshan, Douyin
  • Acquired: Muse
  • This enabled holistic market coverage of tier 1-5 Chinese cities
  • Partnerships with: Admaster and Nielsen
  • This enabled accurate and trackable ad targeting and efficiency

5. Baidu

  • Created: Haokan Video and Miaodongbaike

6. 360

  • Created: Kuai Video (short video app) and Kuaijianji (video editing app)

So exactly how do short videos work in China?

Similar to China’s live streaming eco-system, short videos can go through a series of intermediaries before reaching the end-user. From a macro perspective, it’s a two step process. First, there’s a content provider - and then there’s a distribution channel. What differs is what lies inside of these two macro processes.

China Short Video Overview


Content Providers, more than just UGC

Within the content provider system are different types of providers. These may come in the following forms:

User Generated Content (UGC)

This is content produced by general users - quite similar to what we’d see in the West.

Partner Generated Content (PGC)

This content is professionally produced by companies with their own commerce channels. So, basically like a brand on Youtube.

Professional User Generated Content (PUGC)

This is content produced by KOLs, but with a full production team behind them to produce great content.

Top 3 short Video Platforms in 2017

China Short Video Overview


In Douyin, video length is typically between 1-2 minutes, with 1 minute being the optimal length. Its user demographics are mainly millennials under 24 years of age living in tier 1-2 Chinese cities, with a refined taste in the classy and the trendy. The gender split is about 60% female and 40% male. It also acquired its competitor, Muse.

Volcano Video

In Volcano Video, video length is typically within 2 minutes, again with 1 minute being the optimal length. Its user demographics are mainly lower end, residing in tier 3-4 Chinese cities with low education, low income and low social status. The typical user is between 25-34 years of age. It’s a male dominant platform, with a 66% male and 34% female split. Volcano video’s main competitor is Kuaishou.

Xiqua Video

In Xiqua Video, video lengths are a little longer, between 2-5 minutes which is an expanded canvas for more extensive storytelling. Its main demographics are under the age of 34, in all Chinese cities. Xiqua is also a male dominant platform, with the gender split being 68% male and 32% female.

Short video, quickly become a way of life in Chinese life.

Short video, much like live streaming fulfils needs in the daily lives of Chinese people.

Leisure and Entertainment - much like live streaming, it’s a platform for users to entertain themselves during the small gaps during the day such as during a commute.

Convenience - with a smartphone, you can do just about anything these days. If someone wants to create content, all they need to do is use their phone and start recording.

Community - communities aren’t just offline anymore, they can be formed online (as they have been for many years), but short videos become a new avenue for this.

Diverse Storytelling - the world is all about telling stories these days, and the format of how that story comes across is increasingly important. And by far, video is the best way to tell your story in this day and age.

In closing…

Short video is here to stay. Not just that, but the ecosystem and format make it an ideal marketing platform for marketers wanting to reach China. With different platforms targeting different demographics within Chinese cities and age groups - there’s no better time to start creating content for the Chinese market than now. As with all forms of digital marketing, ROI is more trackable because of the plethora of metrics available to us for tracking.

The platforms are also smart, with Toutiao using Artificial Intelligence to create personalised news feeds of short articles and videos from content generated by its network of 4,000 outside media companies. Analysts say it’s one of the most sophisticated in the world.


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