Text / Wu Qiannan
To date, Tencent employees have clearly remembered that two years ago, Zhang Yiming went to Tencent to share the scene.
It was the Sigma building that was gathered in the Tencent media team. The small hall of one or two hundred people was full of people. Zhang Yiming is small and thin, and the gas field is not strong, but in his speech, he reveals his confidence in his own views. He talked about the idea of today's headlines, the power of machine algorithms, and the famous assertion: “The algorithm has no values, and as long as the user feels good, that is good. ”
At the scene, someone asked Zhang Yiming. Today's headline is an information distribution platform. Why did it start with the name of a news client? Zhang Yiming replied that he also felt that the name was very poor, but the test result was that the name worked best.
“This is the engineer's thinking. His core is to look at the data from product to management, which data is easy to use, and try to eliminate the weakness of human nature. Such a company is very strange. ” After the exchange, a Tencent employee commented on the headlines today.
This is in the first half of 2016, Tencent and today's headlines in the content of the competition has been arrogant. Today's headline shouted to become the number one content creation platform in China, and Tencent took out the “Meng species plan” to use 200 million subsidies to snatch content creators.
But the two private exchanges are acceptable. Zhang Yiming successively held various conferences such as the Tencent Media Conference. At the Wuzhen Conference in 2017, he appeared on the “Dongxing Meal” and was intertwined with Ma Huateng. As a result, at the time, within Tencent, Tencent’s news of the headlines through third-party agencies was released. Although there was no official response, many employees regarded today’s headlines as “Tencent”.
Today, the relationship between the two is no longer the same:
In March, WeChat began to block the link of the vibrato;
In April, Tencent’s short video product, Microvision, was revived and invested 3 billion in subsidies;
In May, Zhang Yiming took a screenshot of the first in the Apple Store in the circle of friends, mentioning: "WeChat's interface is blocked, micro-vision plagiarism and handling, can not stop the pace of vibrating. & rdquo; Ma Huateng immediately replied in the following message: "Can be understood as 诽谤. ”
After the two sides screamed, they first sued each other for unfair competition, and then they reported the case together, and they reciprocated "black public relations".
The escalation of the conflict, on the one hand, has the guidance of public relations on public opinion. At the end of 2017, Li Liang, the former 360 public relations director, became the vice president of today's headline public relations. Since then, the headline public relations style has changed suddenly. He has been provoking controversial topics with big companies and expanding the industry's momentum, which is exactly the same as the 360-degree public relations approach.
On the other hand, under the chaotic public relations war, Tencent did reveal the anxiety of content layout. Tencent has the most abundant human and financial resources, but in the field of machine-based interest reading, and short video, Tencent or slow competitors step by step, or misjudgment. In particular, the explosive growth of vibrato has left Tencent temporarily lacking products that can compete with it.
Today's head office. © Vision China
Tiger sniffing through interviews with several Tencent employees/former employees, clarifying the measures that Tencent has responded to today's headlines from 2013 to the present. Trying to answer a few questions: How does Tencent judge it when a new adversary appears, how to deal with it, and why this coping mechanism failed on today's headlines.
Survival of the marginal team
Tencent's products like today's headlines are actually much earlier than the outside world.
In mid-2013, the original Kangsheng Creative Team tried to bring together the quality content of the national BBS and the information of the portal, and formed a unique information reading app through interest recommendation. This team of BBS website system (Discuz!), which was acquired by Tencent in 2010 for US$60 million, was in a dilemma.
At that time, due to the rise of smart phones, the product of the PC era, BBS, is at the node of prosperity. Immediately after the sudden emergence of Weibo, the BBS community quickly collapsed.
The Kangsheng team, which was integrated into Tencent SNG (Tencent's social network business group), found that not only did Tencent's system not have their location, but the community resources in their hands also quickly depreciated, and they were quickly marginalized. After the 80s entrepreneurial representative, Kang Sheng's founder Dai Zhikang cashed in and ventured into the venture capital circle, and the remaining employees needed to find a way out to prove the value of the team.
“There are dozens of people in the center who are alive, so they keep looking for things.” The idea of everyone at that time was to give me some work, and I could survive. ” A project participant at the time told the tiger to sniff.
Using Discuz's BBS stations, tens of thousands, they are thinking about how to revitalize these resources. In 2013, the headline of the company, which was founded just one year ago, began to emerge in the industry. CEO Zhang Yiming also began to appear in various salons, advocating “machine algorithm” and “recommended interest”. The Kangsheng team quickly listed today's headlines as benchmarking products. “At the time, I saw that today's headlines are getting up, and I wonder if we can do this too. ”The above project participants said.
After half a year of exploration, the product ideas have been adjusted. At the end of 2013, the information reading app called “Today's Hot Post” was launched. The app includes both anecdotes and jokes in the BBS, as well as news information from regular news sites. Through machine algorithms, the content is recommended according to the user's click interest.
However, this product has not received much attention within the company, and has not been recognized by users. After updating the third edition from 1.0 to 1.3, there is no movement. Later, the entire team discovered another new project and slowly abandoned it.
May 11, 2013, 2013 China Internet Entrepreneur (Webmaster) Conference. The president of Kangsheng has become Chen Liang (second from the left), while the founder Dai Zhikang (right one) has been marginalized as the president of Tencent Mobile Life E-commerce. © Vision China
Looking back at "Today's hot post", there are two main reasons for its failure:
First, the team's skills are not enough. Although the idea is to recommend the interest through the algorithm, but the data accumulation and algorithm technology are not mature, the contents of the first few screens are still artificial recommendations. “Personalized recommendation is the last straw to crush the camel”, “Personalization requires a large amount of user data and a matching resource library, without the accumulation of data and users, may really want to speed up Arrived. & rdquo; In the question of how to evaluate today's hot post, the original hot post product manager replied.
Second, there is no more level of support, and the resources that can be called from Tencent's base camp are limited. At that time, Lin Songtao, then vice president of SNG, took charge of the team today. He flew from Shenzhen to Beijing once a month to meet with the team. He did not show much interest in the Beijing team. At that time, there was still a background, Tencent and 360, Baidu, in the application distribution channel battle, Lin Songtao put most of his energy on the application treasure. Without leadership support, it is difficult for marginalized teams like today's hot posts to call group resources.
“If there was a team at the time to do this, I don’t know if history will be rewritten. ” Seeing the competitive situation today, the original project members said with regret.
According to Tiger Sniff, in addition to today's hot post, there was another team doing the same product trial, but it was no longer the same.
Slowness of journalism professionalism
In Tencent, if a product wants to be taken care of by resources, there are usually two ways. One is that the product is excellent and has the ability to grab food in the market. When you see the sharp increase of users, you will naturally get the boss's appreciation and resources, such as WeChat. The other is that the top level feels the threat and personally instructs, such as Tencent Weibo.
The former has extremely high requirements for the team's product capabilities. Although the latter has group resources to support it, it is very passive in the position of industry pursuers.
During the period from 2013 to 2014, “Today's Hot Posts” and several other teams lost in “Products are off”, until 2015, when everyone noticed that the machine algorithm is subverting the original news reading mode, “when the machine algorithm is subverting the original news reading mode,” Everyday Express reported that it was late for Ma Huateng’s personal questioning.
On June 18, 2015, Tencent launched a pan-information news client in the Apple App Store, “Daily Express”, which is three years after the release of the first release of today’s headlines (the first release of the headline in 2012 today) ).
“News professionalism makes OMG feel insensitive. ” A Tencent OMG resigned employee said.
OMG is Tencent's Tencent network media business group, and Tencent.com and Tencent News Client are all part of this business group. But unlike Tencent's “product leadership” (what the user needs), OMG's media attributes make it always pursue the “content-led” concept (what the reader should look at), which has caused the OMG to be self-contained and has been free. Outside of Tencent.
Before 2015, few people mentioned the headlines today in the OMG internal meeting, and did not regard it as an adversary. In the view of some employees, today's headline is an information distribution platform, and its direct rival is Baidu instead of Tencent. During this time period, OMG is more concerned about the market share of Tencent's news client.
At that time, the four portals (Sina, Sohu, NetEase, Tencent) won you on the news client. Everyone is investing in blood and trying to create an entrance. First, the Sohu News client announced at the beginning of 2014 that the installed capacity was 200 million, and the number of active users exceeded 70 million, ranking first in the industry. Then Netease News client cited data from third-party consulting agencies, saying that its use time ranked first. By mid-2014, Tencent's news client has secured the number one position in the industry with the help of WeChat and QQ.
But there is also anxiety inside OMG. At the beginning of 2015, OMG's News and Information Department made a large-scale consultation. In the later revision, Tencent News client added the interest recommendation function. Users first select the panels they are interested in, and the first ones appear after opening the App. It's news that users might be interested in.
This kind of attempt was too light, "OMG employees, including me, didn't realize that the times have changed." & rdquo; The above-mentioned employees said that in his view, the work done by Tencent News client is actually to transfer the content on the PC to the client, regardless of the form or content, the user is not adapted to the mobile Internet.
“The previous audience was mainly white-collar workers, institutions and institutions. These people will go to work to open the computer to watch the news, but after the smartphone comes out, the blue-collar and farmers are activated. They are not interested in when to open the summit. I like to watch some anecdotes. ”
“Who can think of not giving a serious news to the road. & rdquo; He said.
Today's headlines did not give OMG a lot of time to sigh. In April 2015, founder Zhang Yiming announced that today's headlines have activated 240 million users and more than 20 million daily active users.
The OMG team is still slow. During this period, they made a new product called “Queen Leopard”, which can be annotated on the page text or image and is publicly visible, similar to the barrage news client.
This caused Ma Huateng's dissatisfaction. He directly gave instructions to rename the “Clear Leopard” to “Daily Express” and even finalized the opening font of the first version of the application. He gave the strategic positioning of Daily Express the only and clear —— blocking today's headlines. So, throw away the notes and barrage of the bells and whistles, "Daily Express" is the headline of Tencent.
Perhaps because of the pressure of the group, or perhaps the threat of today's headlines, Tencent's online media editor-in-chief Chen Juhong made a direct report such as “Today's headline is our biggest competitor” at an internal conference at the end of 2015. Expression.
The Group’s emphasis on the Daily Express is evident. QQ, WeChat drainage, continuous recommendation of application treasure, or click on the information link in Tencent products, in the case of installing Tencent News and Daily Express, the priority will be jumped to the Daily Express to bring the users to the Daily Express.
At the end of 2017, the advertisement of the Daily Express in Shanghai Metro Station. © Vision China
At the same time, Ma Huateng and Liu Chiping entered the backbone of the daily staff, receiving questions and reports at any time in the group.
This makes Tianyi Express the third-largest information reading app in the market in one year, second only to Tencent's news client and today's headlines. However, the KPI—— given by the group at the end of 2016 tied the headlines today ——
The Group's dissatisfaction with OMG was on the bright side at the end of 2016. Tencent co-founder and former Tencent CTO Zhang Zhidong said at an internal event at the time:
“The Internet industry is like this. All the leads are temporary. Subversion is likely to come from a completely different model. For colleagues at OMG, I expect them to have more. Innovate, with the courage of revolutionizing oneself, to participate in the competition of the next generation of cloud intelligent information services. ”
After the OMG director Liu Shengyi transferred his post, Ren Yuzhen, who was born in the product, took over and made a drastic reform of OMG. “This shows that OMG has completely failed before. ” Some employees commented.
Now go to the Daily Express in the second half of 2015 to the end of 2016, still with the shadow of media thinking.
Although in order to change the idea of “content-led”, OMG will separate the team from the Daily Express. However, there were contradictions in the appointment of his staff. At the time, Wang Yongzhi, the editor-in-chief of Tencent.com, was also the general manager of Tiantian Express, while Zheng Jian, a technically-born person, served as his deputy.
Unexpected product under the horse racing mechanism
From 2015 to 2016, under the personal questioning of Ma Huateng, the daily express newspaper was in the limelight. Few people have noticed that another content distribution platform is quietly coming online in the Shenzhen SNG business group.
The product, called “QQ Aspects”, was formerly known as “QQ Public Number”, which was originally generated by internal competition. After 2012, when a large number of users flocked to WeChat, the relationship between QQ and WeChat became subtle. Although the two belong to the same company, they are full of competition because of the similarity in business.
In July 2015, the QQ public number was tested, but it was delayed for various reasons. “In the beginning, I wanted to make a difference with WeChat in terms of category, but there is not much difference in the logic of the product. It is also the model of WeChat public account, which also leads to insufficient competitiveness of products. ” A SNG employee told Tiger Sniff.
As a result, the product has been revised several times. At the beginning of 2016, the team changed its position from public number to information distribution, and changed its name to “QQ Aspect” and played the selling point of “Algorithm + Social”. “At the time, the headlines have been done today, and its logic has been verified, so there will be references, just like all products will go to see competing products. But we have retained our social characteristics, we can say that & rsquo; algorithm + social & rsquo; first we did. ”
Since the daily battle between the Daily Express and the headlines today is very exciting, it is easy to think that this is another move that Tencent has done to block today's headlines.
The above Tencent employees do not agree with this view. According to him, QQ is based on the natural product of team assessment. A team's assessment is divided into two parts, one part is necessary work, such as iterating several products, the other part is innovative business, and the specifics are not limited.
“At that time, the information flow was already very hot, and the business level was already aware. Tencent's corporate culture (horse racing mechanism) makes each small team very hungry. From the outside, you may see several teams doing one thing at the same time. Every small team found the piece of meat, and everyone rushed to the same place. OMG saw the piece of meat and SNG saw it. ”
According to Caijing magazine, QQ has reached 70% after 95 users, and it has become a stream of information products for Tencent News Day, even surpassing Tencent's strategic-level information stream products every day. Therefore, at the 2017 conference Was praised by Ma Huateng, chairman of Tencent.
The QQ watch team attributed its success to QQ's huge data accumulation and targeted operations for young users. For example, during the cold start phase, users see the content stream of entertainment and animation, rather than the hot spot of politics. Emphasizing social interaction, users can see the forward links and forwarders of good friends and interact in real time. In addition, QQ watch is also on the line of personalized skin that young people love.
However, compared with operations and algorithms, the outside world has more to attribute the rapid increase of QQ point of view to the following: occupy the first level entry in the dialog box. There is also a factor that cannot be ignored. SNG President Tang Daosheng personally promoted resource docking across multiple business groups, including Tencent News, WeChat public account, QQ music MV, and animation resources.
What Tencent really cares about is not the headline of this product today, but the vibrato.
On June 12th, Vibrato announced the platform user data for the first time: As of now, the number of daily users in the vibrato has exceeded 150 million, and the monthly users have exceeded 300 million. Especially during the Spring Festival this year, the number of daily active users of Vibrato has experienced a round of “surge”, rising from less than 40 million to nearly 70 million. The main user group of Vibrato has risen from the early 18 to 24 years old to users aged 24 to 30, and the proportion of users in this age group has now exceeded 40%.
“Today's headlines may only threaten Tencent News, but the vibrato is different. ” Several Tencent employees have expressed the same view.
In June 2018, the Chinese International Software Expo shook. © Vision China
On the one hand, the vibrato is encroaching on user time, which is the time to use social software such as WeChat, QQ, etc., as well as playing the "Glory of the King".
On the other hand, when the vibrato adds a dialogue function, it has the product form of the social software Snapchat or Instgram. And the vibrato is indeed doing social exploration.
Recently, Vibrato has launched a small program called "Bittering Friends" in WeChat. After authorizing login, if this small program is shared into the group, you will see several friends in the group. Play the vibrato, if there are friends in the group using the small program, the two sides can realize the vibrato tone in the small program.
This practice of vibrato is equivalent to importing an acquaintance relationship chain.
At the June vibrato data conference, there was a media question asked if the head of the vibrating market, Zhiying, would socialize. Zhiying did not deny it, but said: “Vibrato has now paid attention to tabs. ), others are still actively exploring, and it is not convenient to disclose it for the time being. ”
Tencent’s response is to restart microvision.
The resurrection of micro-vision is a long story. The microvision that was born in 2013 is an expedient measure for the Tencent Weibo team. At that time, Tencent Weibo has begun to weaken. After the emergence of WeChat, the strategic importance of Tencent Weibo as a defensive product declined. In the later period, the core members of Tencent Weibo were lost, and the team urgently needed a new product to stabilize.
In the view of an old employee of Tencent Weibo, microvision did not do it in the past, and the product itself was problematic. “For example, there is no filter function at first, and it is impossible to make girls beautiful, and the beauty is beautiful. The team does do a good job of functioning, and this is to be acknowledged. "But he thinks this is a secondary reason, mainly due to the fact that there are no objective conditions for the rise of short videos at the time, such as the habit of Chinese users not having a mobile phone to shoot video, and the reduction of traffic charges.
At the end of 2015, the microvision team within the OMG has been disbanded. Then the micro-view product was handed over to SNG. In 2017, SNG official announced the news of the micro-vision shutdown. We don't know why SNG didn't continue with this product, but we can see that Tencent had a misjudgment on the short video.
Going back to the origin, it’s quite a bit of a sense of operation.
Micro-vision rebirth. © Vision China
After the restart, the micro-vision is still in SNG, but this time it is handed over to the QQ space team. The person in charge is Liang Zhu, the vice president of SNG. He once hatched the social karaoke application in the QQ space, “National K song”. The success of the national K songs proves the ability of the QQ space team to develop new ways and innovate products. This product was selected together with "Glory of the King" in Tencent in 2017. "Famous Hall".
On the budget, first of all, shouting out "the tens of billions of support plans", "3 billion subsidies", and found Huang Zikai, Zhang Jie to endorse.
Tencent's emphasis on microvision can be seen from team matching and budget input.
Tiger sniffs learned that in addition to micro-vision, multiple teams including OMG are also making short video attempts. Tencent’s horse racing mechanism came in handy again.
In the history of Tencent's development in the past 20 years, several major product innovations that determine its fate are not the result of the highest level of research and decision-making, but from the independent breakthrough of the grassroots. Weibo failed, WeChat got up; every day, the performance of Pingyao was flat, and QQ watched it unexpectedly.
Next, look at the micro-vision.