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WeChat Advertising: How to get it right as a foreign brand

July 5, 2018 |   Dandan Cheng

With WeChat's growing user base and booming popularity as the premier social media platform in China, WeChat advertising is an important element for your digital strategy in China.

Having recently hosted a WeChat Marketing Live webinar, I came to the realisation that advertising on WeChat is of significant interest to many foreign companies looking to expand into China but it still lies in an area of uncertainty. In Part 1 of this blog post series, I have summarised some of the key questions that were raised during the webinar. You can read Part 2 here: How to succeed in WeChat B2B Marketing

What is WeChat Advertising?

Advertising on WeChat provides a perfect gateway for foreign brands to connect to the Chinese digital consumer. It enables companies to display their promotional message in the user’s newsfeed or at the bottom of WeChat Official Account articles. WeChat ads allows foreign brands to grow their follower base and drive qualified traffic to their Chinese website.

Popular types of WeChat advertising includes: 
1.    WeChat Official Account advertising 
2.    WeChat moments advertising
3.    WeChat mini program advertising 
4.    Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) promotion

WeChat Official Account advertising 

WeChat Official Account ads are versatile banner ads displayed across the WeChat Official Account platform, such as articles. These ads are designed to engage WeChat users and encourage actions such as following an official account, downloading an app, making a purchase, redeeming a coupon code, registering for a service through a customized landing page, or promote a mini-game.

The formats of these ads vary to maximize visibility and engagement: Banner ads are positioned above the comments section, pre-roll ads play before videos longer than three minutes, and in-text ads are seamlessly integrated within the articles themselves. 

The advantage of this advertising approach is that it is performance-based, meaning that advertisers have more flexibility to test and measure the effectiveness of the ad with low upfront costs. It is great choice for e-commerce businesses because it can direct potential consumers to the correct webpage, where a conversion can be made.

WeChat Banner Advertising

WeChat moments advertising

WeChat Moment ads appear in the Moments section, which is comparable to Facebook’s Newsfeed and come in three distinct formats. This diverse range caters to different advertiser needs. Regular ads provide a subtle integration with user content, while card ads add an interactive element with countdowns and CTAs. Carousel cards offer a visually rich and dynamic storytelling format. The advantage of this approach is that advertisers can choose between display or short videos – both of which are highly interactive and engaging. However, with a higher comparative cost, moment ads are a better choice for more established brands with visually attractive products.

WeChat Moments Advertising

WeChat Mini Program advertising

WeChat Mini Programs are lightweight applications that run within the WeChat ecosystem without the need to download a separate app. Positioned within the WeChat Mini Program ecosystem, these ads engage users in a space they already inhabit, fostering a sense of continuity and convenience. Within this dynamic environment, advertisers can explore four distinct types of Mini Program Ads. The Banner ad is strategically placed throughout the Mini Program ecosystem, maximizing visibility. Meanwhile, the Reward ad offers users a 15-second viewing window, allowing for exploration of the ad page to claiming a reward. Complementing these, the Pop-up ad triggers based on user actions, and Grid Ads showcase five to eight profile photos, persistently capturing attention. WeChat Mini Program Ads provide a versatile and immersive platform for advertisers to tailor their strategies to diverse user preferences and campaign objectives.

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) promotion

KOLs are celebrities or famous people who have the power to influence others. Advertisers usually work with KOLs to post an advertisement on their official account, which helps to publicly expose their brand to the KOLs’ wide network of followers. It is a great way to market your brand on WeChat because KOLs are seen as a trusted source of knowledge and advice. The key to success is to select the right influencer that is well-aligned to your business and product offering.

Which WeChat advertising is right for my business?

Our recommendation is for international businesses to use WeChat ads (banner or moments). This is because it is highly unlikely that Tencent would partake in ‘fake user clicking’ to get benefit from you, as it will negatively affect their brand reputation. However, for KOLs promotion, this type of misconduct is more likely to occur. KOLs need to report back high performance to show brands they are working with that they are worth the investment. This can be a big challenge for foreign brands leveraging KOLs.

How to advertise on WeChat?

First of all, you must have a WeChat business account to advertise on WeChat. This is because advertising is subject to the advertising law in China and you require a business entity to run advertisements.

Cost to advertise on WeChat

There is a minimum threshold fee of US$10,000 required by Tencent. However, there may be additional service charges depending on who you work with. Even though there is no time restriction on when you must finish using this budget, our recommendation is to divide the advertising spend between 1-2 campaigns. This will help generate a more optimal advertisement performance and give you the chance to analyse the results of your first campaign before running the next one.

Target the right audience through WeChat

Recently WeChat has expanded its targeting capabilities to allow your ads to better reach your target audience. For example, you can select different cities, demographics, age, interest, profession, income levels and remarketing much more.

There are also some special tags relevant to tourism service providers. Advertisers can target WeChat users travelling in countries outside mainland China including, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. This is highly relevant to travel and retail companies outside of China, who are looking to attract outbound travellers from China to increase their sales. 

Use WeChat advertising to drive traffic to website

Within the WeChat ads you run, you can add a CTA. This can be a button to follow your official WeChat account, re-direct to any landing page or re-direct to your official Chinese website. This is a great practice to build your brand awareness in China.

Tourism Australia WeChat advertising-1

Are luxury brands a perfect fit for WeChat advertising?

Chinese consumers are constantly using WeChat to find out more about luxury and high-quality products. It is one of the key reasons they buy international products, because it is something they can’t easily access or trust the authenticity of the product back in their home country.    

If you are looking to build your brand awareness in China, then WeChat ads are a perfect fit. Moments ads in particular are one of the top choices for advertising for luxury brands in China. It offers a more appealing and engaging way to interact with millions of WeChat users.

For example, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) launched a Moments ad to invite viewers to buy their beauty products. After entering the ad page, viewers were promoted to watch the 15-second video and were able to click on the provided link to find out more information about the product.

YSL WeChat advertisingSource: Tech Node

Similarly, Miu Miu placed a multimedia ad on WeChat Moments to promote its 2017 Spring/ Summer Ready-to-Wear collection. A 6-second promotional video was shown to a targeted audience, before being able to scroll through text and visuals to learn more about the new collection.

Miu Miu WeChat advertisingSource: Tech Node

Grow your brand presence with WeChat advertising

In general, Chinese people are more open to advertisement than Western people. Because WeChat is not yet as commercialised as Facebook (where there are many advertisement slots) it is now a good stage to invest in and leverage WeChat ads. Once it is flooded by different advertisement placements, ad effectiveness will be reduced significantly.

As a preferred Tencent partner we provide WeChat media buying services to help our clients grow their brand presence on WeChat. Contact us to learn more.

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