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Sina Weibo copies Twitter, takes ‘sponsored tweets’ route

This is interesting. Chinese social network Sina Weibo, which has over 350-million registered users, is taking a leaf out of Twitter’s book when it comes to making money.

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The micro-blogging platform has introduced in-line advertising. On Twitter it’s called sponsored tweets, and on Sina Weibo it goes by the name ‘Weibo Tui Guang’.

According to Tech in Asia, the social network’s parent company Sina confirmed that it is using the ad placement product but hasn’t put a timeline on an official launch.

There are however a couple of brands involved the beta-testing of the product including BMW China and Chinese online travel agent Ctrip. The ads will take the form of the brand’s latest tweet, which will appear at the top of a user’s timeline before floating down.

It’s also unclear if the ads will be targeted, or if they’ll just generally appear to users.

Although incredibly popular, the social network is, like most websites in China, heavily regulated. The latest round of regulations, which require users to accept stiff contractual obligations have some wondering whether the social networking giant has scuppered its chance at world domination.

If successful, the new advertising model may also allay fears from the weibo’s parent company Sina that censorship would kill its revenue stream.