This excerpt taken from the SOHU 10-K filed Feb 26, 2009.
Products and Services
In brand advertising, we enjoy a strong competitive position as one of the top portals in China. We provide brand advertising services across our matrices of Web properties. Our offerings enable advertisers to post their advertisements in different forms, including textual, rich media and graphic advertisements, and in different locations on the Sohu matrix of Web properties. Our brand advertising products include but are not limited to banners, links, logos, buttons and stream advertisements placed on our Websites and sponsorships that typically focus on a particular event or a particular Website area. We charge advertisers daily or hourly rates for banners, links, logos, buttons and stream advertisements. Sponsorship contracts for a particular area of a Website or for a particular event may require fixed payments over the contract period. Our standard advertising charges vary depending on the terms of the contract and the advertisements location within our Website. Discounts from standard rates are typically provided for higher-volume, longer-term advertising contracts, and may be provided for promotional purposes.
We rely on both direct sales by our internal sales force and sales by advertising agents for advertising on our Websites. During the year ended December 31, 2008, approximately 1,140 companies advertised on our Websites. Our customers include multinational companies that have significant operations in Chinese markets, many of which are Fortune 500 companies, as well as numerous Chinese domestic companies, which are mainly large or medium size companies. We plan to continue focusing on multinational and Chinese domestic companies as our key advertisers. In 2008, our five largest advertisers accounted for approximately 15% of total brand advertising revenues. Sohu has entered into agreements with each of these advertisers. Most of these agreements have terms of less than 12 months.
As of December 31, 2008, we had obligations to provide, and advertisers had obligations to purchase, advertising services under existing contracts in the amount of $0.9 million, which were required to be provided during the year ending December 31, 2009.
We are also a leading aggregator of content, and provide content on a variety of topics. We organize our content around 40 main channels on the Sohu portal. Each main channel contains numerous sub-channels and features news, commentaries and various utilities and solutions relating to a specific topic. Our regional Websites have extensive reach across China. For example, Focus.cn, has penetrated 30 first and second tier cities in China. As of December 31, 2008, we had over 1,700 content partners, which enable us to provide a wide range of content offerings. Our content partners include leading Chinese language media and information providers in a variety of fields, such as CCTV, covering major cities in China, as well as prestigious international content providers such as the NBA and Reuters. Our arrangements with content partners are normally short-term and non-exclusive. In addition, we have established exclusive partnership/sponsorships with some of our important content partners and sponsors, including the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Team China and China Interactive Sports. Such exclusive content partnerships or sponsorships enable us to differentiate our brand advertising offering from other brands and to improve and strengthen our brand.
All of our channels, including co-branded third party content on our portal, are defined by the following features, that together constitute the distinct Sohu look and feel: the Sohu.com logo, the Search Fox mascot that displays different postures in different channels, the navigation bar, the color combination, the size and type of the Chinese characters, the spacing of the characters used in our directories and the reporting style. Below are descriptions of some of our main channels:
Streaming Online Videos
In addition to providing traditional text and picture-based content, we have focused on developing new media technologies. We have launched online TV-like channels, such as v.Sohu for entertainment, s.Sohu for sports and tv.Sohu for TV programs, specifically geared for video content. In addition to watching pre-set programs with broadcasting schedules, users can also enjoy certain programs on an on-demand basis.
Communication and Community Tools
We offer a variety of communication and community tools for our Chinese online users that are important in promoting user affinity to our portal network:
Sogou Pinyin is our self-developed Chinese Character Input Method software, whose vocabulary database is tied to the search queries database of Sogou search engine and thus can capture the latest trend of words used by Internet users. Since its launch in 2006, Sogou Pinyin has been well received by users. It continues to gain popularity and expand market share through superior product quality and effective marketing campaigns. As of December 31, 2008, Sogou Pinyin had been installed in over 50% of PCs in China. We also launched the mobile version of Sogou Pinyin, which we believe is another example of how Sohu is pioneering in the large and growing mobile Internet market.