Summary of China’s “Walking IPs”

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Media expert Tang Yingxian’s article on TMTPost, a tech news website, explains why “pay-for-knowledge” products have become increasingly popular in China. Their success is based on the celebrity of so-called “individual intellectual properties” (individual IPs); these subject matter experts use their strong, personal brands to create cross-industry businesses. Basing her writing on observation and experience rather than statistics, Tang seeks common themes among four people who have sustainable individual IPs. getAbstract recommends her report to media analysts, tech company executives, and aspirational writers and bloggers.

About the Author

Tang Yingxian, a former China Central TV media strategist, directs operations for Tinfinite, a live-stream knowledge-sharing WeChat channel.



Chinese audiences have embraced a number of “pay-for-knowledge” apps and websites, including Zaihang, an app for booking consultants; Zhihu Live and Fenda, two paid, interactive Q&A platforms; Himalaya FM radio; and Dedao (or iGet), an app that offers expertise in various formats and provides a forum for expert columnists. The latter earned ¥140 million ($20.3 million) in 2016. Top columnist Li Xiaolai made ¥25 million that year and has 135,000 paid subscribers. 

People suffering information overload are willing to pay for high-quality knowledge content that rises above the clutter. Mobile payment also lowered the barrier for buying content. Now charismatic, business-minded intellectuals can sell their knowledge and gain widespread followings. These “key opinion leaders” build their personal brands by distributing...

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