BEIJING: Renren, the Chinese social networking site, has undergone a restructuring in order to focus its communication services on college students and younger people, according to its CEO.

Speaking on a quarterly earnings call, Joe Chen explained that the business faced "formidable" competition and that Renren was looking for ways to differentiate itself and to carve out its own share of social space.

"Our response to the latest challenges has been to combine the core strength of social networking and social messaging features and to build on our strong brand equity on college campuses," he said.

This approach would entail "a lot more innovation and selective marketing" to strengthen its presence with this 100m-strong demographic.

While declining to give specific details, he said applications designed just for college students could include such things as enabling them to check their examination source, change their registration in the class, or just find out what was available in the cafeteria.

Chief operating officer James Liu offered a succinct summation of where the business was headed: "Our goal is to reposition Renren as a young generation social hub, the best place to observe and understand the thoughts and behaviours of China's new generation".

Chen added that repositioning Renren as a "real-name mobile social network" had proved challenging as far as advertising revenues were concerned. Mobile currently accounted for just 8% of total brand advertising revenue despite taking up 80% of Renren's media time.

He noted that there were few players proactively educating and selling mobile solutions to brand advertisers, and expected that it would take a couple of years to build a more substantial mobile advertising business.

The FMCG sector was currently the top advertiser on Renren, while certain IT products and apparel also featured strongly.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff