Advertisements and Engagement Strategies on a Cross-media Television Event: A Case Study of Tmall Gala

Shenglan Qing, Emili Prado


Tmall Gala is a television event co-produced by Chinese internet company Alibaba and traditional television broadcasters to count-down for an emerging shopping festival: Double Eleven Shopping Festival. Mobile applications developed by Alibaba are applied as the second-screen for this television programme. This paper aims to study advertising strategies and audience engagement strategies on this cross-media television event, after the integration of internet technologies and companies into the cultural industries in China. Based on content analysis, we study general advertising tactics and the second-screen engagement strategies, as well as Alibaba's specific self-advertising contents in Tmall Gala 2018. This study shows that specific tactics are applied to avoid audience missing advertising information during the multitasking process. Alibaba’s brand values blend with artistic performances and participative activities in the gala. These values legitimise the lifestyle relaying on e-commerce services and encourage users to subject themselves within the business of Alibaba. Finally, we argue that the ritual function of the television event does not disappear with the integration of the internet because producers can manage audience attention within the cross-media matrix. This case study can illustrate, on a global level, how a dominant internet company integrating with cultural industries, can embed its brand values in the consumerist culture in the society, which can, in turn, consolidate its infrastructural role in the internet macro-ecosystem.


television events; media convergence; second-screen; television advertisements; Alibaba

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