Contributed by James McCormick and Allison Smith

Tencent’s news portal is one of the largest online news portals in China, with more than 25 channels covering all types of news. Tencent faces fierce competition, which it intends to combat by building its analytics competency. With the eyes of millions of Chinese soccer fans on the World Cup, Tencent has a chance to better target its news and reports by using social analytics — which the news portal did by launching a mini-site of World Cup 2014 coverage. More than 50 advertisers showed interest in the World Cup site, thinking that it would differentiate Tencent’s news offerings and draw more traffic. And they were right: The site got more than 3 million hits in the first week of the Cup.

Tencent now has the first social analytics website for sports in China. Supported by IBM’s Social Analytics engine and hosted in its SoftLayer data center in Hong Kong, the site aggregates data from most leading Chinese social platforms including Qzone, Renren, Sina Weibo, and Tencent Weibo. Full coverage of these social platforms can help Chinese businesses get a fuller picture of customers to better personalize and target offers. Tencent’s news editors also have a separate social analytics tool to find buzzwords or popular terms on social platforms and highlight these attention-getting phrases in their titles and articles.

This investment is delivering two major benefits to Tencent:

  • Real-time updates on and off the field attract more soccer fans. Users can now gauge the latest sentiment about each team by analyzing positive and negative tweets on microblogs. It converts variations of related Chinese words used on microblogs into different forms and provides real-time reports about competitions, commentary from soccer experts and former players, and updates about what is happening on and off the field.
  • Articles use catchy phrases to attract viewers. Editors can find popular terms, like famous players’ nicknames, in real time to help modify the tone of their articles to match the sentiment on social media. This helps make their articles more attractive and thus generate more web visits and social platform sharing than their rivals.

What it means to your business

Tencent parlayed a modest investment in IBM’s Social Analytics tool into significant increases in readership and revenue. This shows how the news business can use digital analytics to better understand customer needs and build competencies — at a cost that most Chinese businesses can afford.

If you have any questions about the use of digital analytics, please contact us.