Hongxiu is unlike any of the other companies presenting at DEMO China. Hongxiu is a content publishing site for users who want to share fiction with the rest of the community. As a publisher I’m fascinated by content sites, learning about where sites get traffic and how other content sites make money. Hongxiu.com is a community of people who post and read fictional works, primarily novels, in Chinese. I’m not aware of a comparable U.S. site. As far as I know, there aren’t any wildly popular fiction sites in the U.S.
According to Sun Peng, Chief Manager for hongxiu.com, the audience is 70% white-collar females with a publication history dating back to 1999. Traffic indicators suggest that online growth is increasing steadily, presumably at least partly instep with the growth of online access throughout China. While I don’t put much stock in Alexa ranks, Hongxiu.com has a 3-month rank of 1,028 and is trending steadily upward for the past two years, despite a brief dip in January 2006.
To put the traffic numbers in perspective with what most of us in the tech industry understand, hongxiu.com is in the same ballpark as TechCrunch and Lifehacker while lagging far behind the entire universe of blogs using wordpress.com.
The site seems to get more page views per reader, which would imply a greater potential for advertisers to reach their audience, but again, this is Alexa data which is more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast set of statistics about the industry.
Hongxiu presented at DEMO China in search of funding to grow the company further to increase revenues. I’ll freely admit that I don’t understand everything about the way the Chinese consumer market works. If a U.S. site had the predominantly white-collar female traffic Hongxiu gets, the advertising revenue potential would be fairly high. That’s a market many advertisers court in every medium because they tend to spend more money than their male counterparts.
Based on the types of advertising I’ve seen throughout Beijing, it appears China is similar.
Currently the company derives revenue from advertising, content deals to adapt stories for television and is offering print versions of any online novel with 5,000,000 or more views. Rather than actively seeking venture capital funding, concentrating on finding a strong advertising sales force familiar with the Chinese market or merely working to optimize existing advertising placements could go along way to dramatically increasing the revenue potential for the site. Another interesting growth area would be partnering with U.S.-based content sites looking to expand into Chinese markets.