Author: Zou Yun Jie Translated by: Kevin Nian-kai Wang Editor : Lesley Zuo
Many have risen to the call of new media in recent years; few have succeeded. Yet even with the inherent challenge in creating profit through a media platform, the online media outlet FLiPER has found a creative niche in its content and advertising methods. This “non-media”, as FLiPER calls itself, has managed to double its revenue in Q2 2016, all through delivering content centered on the arts and lifestyle. TechOrange sits down with Cash Tsai, cofounder of FLiPER, to ask him about his strategies.
FLiPER has become an online venue where Taiwan’s wenching generation meet
Founded in 2012, FLiPER is an internet platform for the arts in Taiwan, with its content ranging from fine art, good design, movies, and other lifestyle buzz. As an online venue for Taiwan’s wenching generation (see translator’s note below), its core readers are 20 to 30-year-old females and students. The websites records 2 million visits per month, and records at least 500,000 unique visits each week. In addition, the website’s mobile app offers its core readers a no-ad, enhanced user experience to facilitate reading, and has recorded 20,000 downloads, with 6,000 active users each month.
Close interaction between readers and writers
In Tsai’s words, FLiPER’s uniqueness lies in the vibrant interaction between its writers and readers. A small army of 600 writers collaborate to shape the website; regarding its content, Tsai says, “We take a hands-off approach to content creation, and let our writers freely publish and convey what they think. Our readers also enjoy reading about the latest in the arts. FLiPER is nothing more than a platform that enables writers and readers to engage with each other.” The editing staff is there merely to polish up material, communicate with writers online, and share the material on social media.
FLiPER has also set up a “Like” button on its website to let readers follow their favorite writers, as well as facilitating reader/writer interaction, with popularity becoming a driving force for writers to pursue their writing. The FLiPER editing staff will regularly share works by popular writers each week, bringing both a feeling of anticipation for readers, and higher readership for its writers.
High value for advertisers creates high revenue
FLiPER’s greatest asset is the artistic and literary online community it has fostered, which has translated into incredible business opportunities. In addition to selling space for advertisements, FLiPER has created new and original ways to add value for its advertisers, bringing together online ads and offline events in “rad” new marketing strategies.
Tsai details FLiPER’s strategy of “enterprise accounts”, which allow advertisers to engage with the website’s readers for the long run. Companies can nurture a long-lasting brand image and associated culture, a sharp departure from the conventional strategy of paid reviews. This is essentially what makes FLiPER highly valuable: the website successfully brings advertisers, writers, and readers together in highly involved interaction with one another, creating new value, content, and connections in the process.
In stark contrast with other websites focused on the arts, which can only derive profits from ISPs and ordinary advertising space, FLiPER has undoubtedly forged a new and captivating path for new media. Special projects connect writers directly with advertisers to surpass the worn and played format of paid reviews: since each writer has strengths in different fields, this means they can find new and unconventional ways for advertisers to promote their products.
For example, when collaborating with Nike on its Air Max shoes, Tsai began to brainstorm about expressing the Air Max value through artwork. Illustrators and sculptors became attached to create works for the Air Max, with their creative process documented in video. The end result not only satisfied the promotional needs of the advertiser, but also created content which readers could enjoy.
FLiPER artist Summerise’s work for the Nike Air Max
Future plans for expansion in Southeast Asia
With their “hyperoriginal” ads firmly establishing their methodology, FLiPER this year continues to expand their business in seeking new collaboration. For the future, the website plans to both expand into Southeast Asia, and foster new creative talent.
As Tsai puts it, “Quality creative works do hold potential to become products for monetization, and what FLiPER can try to do is to lend a hand in turning these works into products, and assist in marketing strategies, promotion, and locating resources.”
At the same time, FLiPER also aims to broaden their community. Since many of the website’s content creators already hail from overseas, Tsai believes they have the potential to reach into the Southeast Asia market. FLiPER has chosen Singapore as its initial target, taking advantage of the common language and aptitude for good design, with a goal of connecting the wenching across Asia.
[Translator’s note: Wenching (Wade-Giles: wen-ch’ing; Hanyu Pinyin: wen-qing; short for 文藝青年, literally “artistic youth”) is a hard-to-define concept and finds no exact equivalent in American culture; close analogies might include bohemian without the connotations of poverty, hipsters with a strong intellectual and/or artistic bent, or perhaps a modern-day Beatnik generation with a far less dose of hippiness. The present translator argues that even the literal translation “artistic youth” is insufficient in defining this moniker, as the modern-day wenching in Taiwan often possesses attributes not generally associated with what would conventionally be considered “art” or “artistic types”, owing to some of the unique circumstances in Taiwan. Following is a non-exhaustive and non-universal description of some of the characteristics commonly associated with wenching, many of which apply to the present translator himself:
—20-to-30-somethings (perhaps even reaching as far as early 40s) who have an intellectual or artistic bent. College-level education is practically universal for this generation, and a very large segment also holds at least one master’s degree; indeed, it is very common for young people to inquire or introduce themselves with their university or graduate school major.
—An appetite for literature and/or art, but these have to be defined as broadly as possible. For example, some might enjoy what would traditionally be considered high or “true” literature, while others might shun the classics and instead opt for Japanese manga or animé, but all would dislike run-of-the-mill pulp fiction for their clichés and lack of complexity. Furthermore, as mentioned above, “artistic” is somewhat of a misnomer, since some actually have a pronounced distaste for high or fine art, but enjoy everyday products featuring good design.
—Even for those with a strong intellectual or avant-garde bent, it is not uncommon for them to follow pop culture as well; many listen to mainstream pop artists just as much as indie music. To use American TV shows as an analogy, they might enjoy 30 Rock and Futurama far more than whatever the Kardashians are doing at the moment, but will actively follow both. Moreover, aspects of what in America would be associated with “nerdiness” can be found as well: continuing the analogy, these are people who might vehemently argue that the US version of The Office or the new version of Battlestar Galactica are poor remakes of their respective originals. At the same time, in accordance with their concern for society and equality (see following), they might actively follow shows like the Canadian Little Mosque on the Prairie; in realistic terms, the high-quality drama productions of Taiwan’s public broadcaster PTS often find a loyal following in wenching.
—A strong concern for society and the environment, with liberal and/or leftist leanings very common. Wenching often show support for issues like gender equality, homosexual and immigrant rights, equal justice for the disadvantaged, sexual frankness (though not necessarily openness or feminist), concern for environmental conservation (climate change denial is virtually non-existent in Taiwan), and reaction against the conservative tendencies of traditional Chinese culture. Many have actively participated in the many protests or social movements in Taiwan during the past few years, or at least concerned themselves with developments.
—A appetite for the finer things in life, with an emphasis on quality rather than mere possession; this follows the emphasis on good design. For example, coffee shops and cafés are common meeting places as in Western cultures, but wenching often deliberately seek out small, independent shops instead of Starbucks; the same goes for books, with some independent bookstores seeing a loyal following. This also carries into a taste for retro technology: wenching have been a major driving force in the vinyl revival in Taiwan, and in addition to often carrying a DSLR or at least a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (one of the stereotypical attributes of wenching), many also actively seek out and use Lomo cameras, or even film SLRs.]
The original article: