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Bob Moon: This year, China surpassed the U.S. as the country with the most Internet users in the world. It's no surprise then that most Olympic ad campaigns in China right now have major online components. The prize: 250 million potential customers. Lisa Chow reports from Beijing.
Lisa Chow: One look at Sohu.com will probably give you a headache. It's China's equivalent of Yahoo, but the top three-fourths of the screen are full of ads. Some flash. Some fly across your screen. Some pop up when you least expect it.
Steven Lin is a senior editor at Sohu.com:
Steven Lin: Every advertiser wants to make their animation very colorful, very active, very annoying.
And American advertisers are trying to make sure they don't get drowned out in that noise. Now with the Olympics, they've aggressively increased their online ad budgets here.
Phyllis Cheung is vice president of marketing for McDonald's China. She says it's the first time the fast-food company has done such a big online campaign, targeting Chinese consumers.
Phyllis Cheung: How we make use of the Internet is let's provide them with a platform and a way to express their creativity.
Call it interactive advertising. McDonald's invited Internet users to upload videos, poems, and songs about the Olympics. Adidas created a Web site too, to let Chinese users trade cards of their favorite athletes.
The hope, of course, is that all of this translates into billions of dollars in sales. But Steven Lin isn't so sure.
Lin: Lots of the Internet users are the very young people who cannot afford to buy Nike shoes or expensive products.
Young people like 22-year-old Tony Li. He spends more than 10 hours a day surfing the web. And he just got a job selling American sneakers to Chinese customers online, but he doesn't own any himself.
Tony Li (voice of interpreter): I've never bought American brand name shoes. I just started working and they're too expensive. But maybe in the future, when I have money, I'll buy them.
And that's probably the idea: Get in early so that when young Chinese can buy, they'll buy your product.
In Beijing, I'm Lisa Chow for Marketplace.