Toutiao news app tai­lors per­son­al­ized con­tent to users

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHANG ZHAO zhangzhao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The pop­u­lar­ity of smart­phones has weak­ened the in­equal­ity of in­for­ma­tion flow and made the world in­creas­ingly trans­par­ent, said Zhang Yiming, founder and CEO of Toutiao, a per­son­al­ized news app.

He made his re­marks at a sub­fo­rum of the World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Wed­nes­day.

“New con­cepts and new knowl­edge can be spread all over the world in sec­onds,” Zhang said. “This is amaz­ingly fast com­pared with pre­vi­ous ages.”

In ad­di­tion to vastly in­creased speed, he said con­tent is be­com­ing richer in the age of the In­ter­net that fea­tures a spirit of shar­ing, and much of con­tent comes from “cog­ni­tive sur­plus” — the knowl­edge peo­ple ac­quire in their free time.

“Be­fore, only highly ed­u­cated elites could pro­duce con­tent,” he said. “But with the de­vel­op­ment of tech­nol­ogy, the bar­rier to con­tent pro­duc­tion is be­com­ing lower.”

He cited an ex­am­ple of his friend, who read many books af­ter giv­ing birth to a baby. He sug­gested she open an ac­count on Toutiao to share what she had learned, in­stead of just keep­ing it in her diary.

“Read­ing books and tak­ing notes will help you, while pub­li­ciz­ing them can in­flu­ence tens of thou­sands of peo­ple,” he told her.

His friend did open an ac­count, shar­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences of how she and her mother raised chil­dren. The con­tent was pop­u­lar, which gains tens of thou­sands of views on Toutiao.

“Cog­ni­tive sur­plus has al­ways ex­isted,” Zhang said. “It is only that the In­ter­net has short­ened the dis­tance be­tween in­for­ma­tion and au­di­ence.” big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween Toutiao and tra­di­tional news apps.

The app so far has more than 350 mil­lion down­loads and over 35 mil­lion daily ac­tive users, more than the to­tal user num­bers of most tra­di­tional news por­tals, Zhang said.

“The driv­ing force be­hind this achieve­ment is pre­cise dis­tri­bu­tion and in­ter­ac­tion be­tween users,” he said, adding that even mi­nor­ity con­tent can have a large quan­tity of view­ers.

“Let’s say there are 500,000 peo­ple in the coun­try in­ter­ested in the guzheng (a tra­di­tional Chi­nese mu­si­cal in­stru­ment), but there is no guzheng mag­a­zine for them be­cause they live all over the coun­try and few live in the same city or county.

“It is dif­fi­cult for tra­di­tional dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels to reach them all but, on our plat­form, au­thors of guzheng-re­lated con­tent can eas­ily find those 500,000 peo­ple.”

We al­ways wanted to be­come the in­for­ma­tion plat­form that knows its users best, con­nect­ing peo­ple and in­for­ma­tion, and pro­mot­ing cre­ation and ex­change.”

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Toutiao, a per­son­al­ized news app,

val­ues the spirit of shar­ing and the cre­ative power that tech­nol­ogy pro­vides to users. Zhang Yiming, founder and CEO of ByteDance, the de­vel­oper of Toutiao

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