Digital China Ep.42 with Matthew Brennan – ByteDance China’s Attention Factory – Tik Tok and Douyin


Listen to Matthew Brennan, the author of “Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China’s ByteDance” and the founder of China Channel share his insights on the ByteDance ecosystem and their attention-grabbing products such as TikTok, Douyin and Toutiao.

ByteDance is a multinational internet technology company headquartered in Beijing. It was founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, catching on the waves of the rise of the mobile internet era in China. ByteDance is reportedly worth over US$100 billion as of May 2020. Matthew says the foundation of the company that helped it to achieve the level of success today is the power of recommendation. ByteDance had a very clear understanding early on that recommendations would be very suitable for mobile. Users have a small mobile phone screen, fragmented time and constantly experience information overload. While the search engine may be the most convenient channel to find information on a desktop, a recommendation engine would be the most compatible way to match users’ needs on a mobile phone screen. This insight was what powered Toutiao, the news aggregator in China. ByteDance later built an advertising business on top of Toutiao and did not move into the field of short videos until 2016. Since their entry into the field, they have once again reinvented themselves and launched Douyin and TikTok, two of the most exciting and largest businesses they have today.

Check out our Douyin Marketing Guide and Toutiao Marketing Guide, or our training modules on these platforms. You can also stay tuned to our ChoZan blog for more upcoming China market and consumer insights.