During my experience in China during 2001-2003, I never paid much attention to why the leading websites in the country sold their media on a ‘time’ basis - so essentially Sina, Sohu and Netease would sell their impressions and banners on a fixed time basis – meaning that you would pay for a full day’s exposure say of the north banner on Sina for a fixed sum of money – there was no count of impressions nor delivery by rotation of banners.
Back to China in 2008 for selling our games2win inventory in China, I was surprised to learn that the same philosophy holds true – now for the smaller ‘unrecognized’ websites other than the big 5 ( Sina, Sohu, Netease, QQ etc)
I was quite taken aback and probed deeper… The reason was quite shocking! Online Media planners and Interactive agencies cannot convince brand owners in China (the really big business is in ethnic Chinese brands) that their ads have ‘run’ on websites on a rotational basis – the spender or brand owner needs to physically see the creative when they visit the website! Also, they usually don’t believe media reports that their agency supplies them… I can just imagine the 70 year old head of a 100 million US$ Chinese Herbal lotion company – (someone I met), visiting Sina.com and not seeing their ads he paid for (since it would be rotating) and freaking out. You can’t tell Grandpa to ‘refresh’ the page.
It's unbelievable that the world’s largest (or soon to be) Internet population country runs its media business like print or a hoarding – either the ad is there or not there…
It's very restrictive for smaller publishers like us to juice our inventory in China since we have to now sell on time only. Also, its makes the big 5 even more monopolistic.
Like all things in China and usually in life, there are always 2 sides to a story.