How To Effectively Deliver Online Video Into China

Detailed guide to delivering video within The Great Firewall of China.

How To Effectively Deliver Online Video Into China

As more and more organizations focus on global growth in emerging economies so does the need for their marketing teams to deliver localized content into those markets. 83% of marketers today are using video to engage with their buyers, whether that’s video on a website, in email or on social media. For organizations based in the United States or Europe reaching viewers in those markets is fairly straightforward and there are no real restrictions on how and where video can be shared.

The recent growth of commerce across our borders to our friends in Asia, specifically China has sparked a rush and fascination among marketers frantically trying to figure out how to effectively message and engage with Chinese buyers. Due to the tight control and restrictions put in place by the Chinese government there are only a few limited options for delivery content, specifically online video into China.

For example, YouTube and Facebook are not accessible within mainland China leaving a gaping hole for marketers to work around when trying to engage buyers with video. On top of that most online video platforms are blocked in China making videos sent within the region useless. So assuming the video strategy that works with the rest of the world also works within China is a dangerous assumption. Unfortunately video delivery challenges aren’t just with social video. Videos on your web pages and emails may not work.

Although these limitations exist there are still effective ways to deliver video marketing to audiences in China. This article goes into specifics on the current state of online and social video in China and how marketers can put together a strategy to effectively reach audiences there.

Moreover we’ll take a look at:

  • The opportunity for online video in China.
  • What exactly the “Great Firewall of China” is and does.
  • How to put together a video strategy that reaches your intended audience in China
  • An outline of the available video technology to support the strategy
The Opportunity For Online Video In China

The opportunity for online video in China expands by the day and is directly tied to the availability and access to Internet which can be patchy and inconsistent across the country. Over the past ten years the number of people accessing the Internet in China has increased 5x, with that said only 48% of the population has access to it. Such strong momentum has had an immediate impact on the development of online video platforms in China. In 2007 a mere 160 million Chinese had watched videos online by 2014 this number was 3x, reaching nearly 433 million viewers. As of writing this the overall size of China’s online video market in revenue amounts to 33 billion yuan and advertising accounts for more than 70% of online video growth.

Statistic: Number of internet users in China from December 2006 to December 2016 (in millions) | Statista

With those stats as benchmarks it should also be said that the internet has become the preferred platform in China for watching video content, especially for younger generations. According to the CNNIC, more than half of online video viewers in China in are in their teens and 20s. 77.5% of video viewers in China have college education with a Bachelor degree or above. It’s because of these amazing growth numbers that there has been rapant development in social video services in China. Companies like Tencent have created their own version of Facebook and YouTube available only in China.

What Exactly is the “The Great Firewall of China?”

It’s no secret delivering video content into mainland China can be very difficult. In fact the Chinese government wants it that way on purpose. They want to be able to control the messaging and influence brands have on their population. Why exactly? That’s a whole other story. The main point is that the government has set up a content and web page filtering system that restricts content flowing in and out of the country, this is called “The Great Firewall of China.”

The Great Firewall of China is part of the Chinese government’s control of the internet, also known as Golden Shield. The Great Firewall was implemented in 2006 and is considered a sophisticated internet filtering system. To effectively deliver video into China websites need to be licensed and all content has to adhere to Chinese regulations. As a result, working with a China CDN that has existing relationships with Chinese agencies and authorities as well as deep knowledge of the country’s unique rules is essential to both understand and comply with the government regulations.

In order to bypass censorship and surveillance in China, some residents and expats use VPN services

Sometimes it just works

With all that said, if your organization is planning on delivering video into China with video players embedded on a website that you own and control there is about a 90% chance that it will work right-out-of the box.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Host your video content with an online video platform that supports global delivery. You can find a number of them here.
  2. Upload your video content to that platform and embed on a web page meant to be shared within mainland China.
  3. Share that page with the embedded video with colleagues or contacts within China to test that it works.
  4. You can also use a tool like: which simulates The Great Firewall and let’s you know if the webpage the video playing back on will work.

Bottom line is that if the website works within the Firewall the video will most likely playback without issue. If for some reason the video and website just doesn’t work you can move to the next option which is registering your website and content with the Chinese government. Which you should do regardless as a security/insurance layer if you plan to consistently deliver content into China.

ICP Licenses & Registering with the Chinese Government

What you need to know about registering your content with the Chinese government if decide to go that route and how you can accomplish that working with a content delivery service that caters to China delivery. Here’s a breakdown of the things the Chinese government needs:

  • ICP License – All websites are required to have an “ICP Beian” in order to operate in China. Even Though an ICP is required, sites will still work within the firewall unless you are serving explicit content the government doesn’t approve of. In the case that you are selling products, ads, services or your website is one that “makes money”, such as an ecommerce site, then ICP is mandatory. Warning: It’s absolutely critical to get the website registration correct or it can result in your site and content getting blacklisted which could be near to impossible to recover.
  • China & Global CDN – Next you’ll want to make sure your online video platform is powered by a global CDN, specifical a China CDN that specialises in delivering content into mainland China. China CDNs will typically have points of presence (PoPs) in China with lower latency which can accelerate loading times for hosted websites and video. It’s important to understand that not all “global” CDNs are registered and able to deliver content in mainland China. A truly global CDN provider has the capacity to not only deliver content beyond the Great Firewall, but also to every corner of the world.

When shopping for a online video platform that includes China delivery consider these requirements:

  • Physical presence inside mainland China, including network nodes and staff
  • Global infrastructure presence to serve the Americas, EMEA, and APAC
  • In-depth know-how of China’s business and government landscape
  • Continuous monitoring of Chinese government regulations
  • Network/ISP relationships with China’s main networks
  • Help and advice on securing the required licenses to serve a website in China
  • Support for both application and website acceleration, including delivery of both static content and streaming media
  • Protection from DDoS attacks both on the application and network levels

Finally, how do you certify that a online video platform vendor can deliver video reliably into China? First off make sure the online video platform vendor is licensed to deliver content in China and does it have infrastructure on the mainland. Some online video platforms try to reach China from Hong Kong; however, Hong Kong’s network is separate from the rest of mainland, outside the Great Firewall, meaning 50% slower performance.

Find out how many points of presence (PoPs) the vendor has in mainland China and where they are located. You’ll want to know if they dispersed throughout the country or only concentrated in large metropolitan areas. If the vendor passes all test then you will be able to reliably scale a video strategy with delivery into China.

To learn more about video platforms that offer China delivery visit our directory here.

50Wheel is the world's leading website for video strategy and marketing technologies. Browse hundreds of software tools, guides and get strategy advice.

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