China’s most prominent microblogging (or weibo) service Sina Weibo has followed the path worn by Twitter, officially launching in-stream advertising.
The social giant has been testing out the ad placements since mid 2012. At the time it was unclear whether or not the ads would be targeted.
For now it appears that they’re not, although The Next Web reports that the company is investigating displaying ads targeted specifically at people who are fans of a company. Similar to Twitter, people will be able to tell they’re looking at an advert because there will be a grey line and a notice that it is a sponsored post.
At the moment the ads are only available on the PC version of Sina Weibo. Although Sina hasn’t given a precise date for when the feature will arrive on mobile it’s likely that it won’t take too long. After all, around 420-million people in China access the web using mobile.
Sina has also previously stated that its focus is “mobile first”, so it’s unlikely that it will delay putting out a mobile ad solution.
Although incredibly popular, the social network is, like most websites in China, heavily regulated. If successful, the new advertising model may also allay fears from the weibo’s parent company Sina that censorship would kill its revenue stream.
The company also faces stiff competition from Chinese internet giant Tencent’s competing weibo service as well as its WeChat instant messaging platform. The latter has become immensely popular gaining 100-million users over the past four months to go past the 300-million user mark.