Digital advertising in China 2020

advertising in china
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    Ready to grab market share in China and increase your revenue by advertising in China?


    In this post you’ll get the overview of Digital Advertising in China (in 2020), and learn:
    -Which channels to advertise in
    -Which types of advertising
    -Which channel fits certain industries
    -Lots more.

    Let’s get started!

    China has been ranked as the most attractive market in the world for 6 years in a row. There is little doubt that brands and organizations seeking growth need to adapt themselves to China.

    Advertising in China is an essential part of capturing market share. Also, China is a highly digital country, with more mobile phones than the population. Together with highly detailed consumer data, digital advertising is the way to go.

    However, many foreign companies fail to understand how Chinese advertising works and suffers as a result. China differs from advertising in other markets as the Chinese channels have unique aspects to them, and Chinese consumers and the Chinese culture are also different.

    International companies face a second challenge, and that is the domestic Chinese companies. With their superior understanding of rules, regulations, and culture, many have traditionally been able to get a high return on marketing investment. was made to bridge this gap by making digital advertising in China easy for everyone. Click here to learn more about how you can leverage industry-leading ad technology to succeed in the Chinese market.

    An essential first step to success with advertising in China is choosing the best digital channel. Here you will find an overview of the channels with each channel’s pros and cons.

    Registration and verification

    International companies need to register with the channels to use their advertising services. What is required varies from channel to channel, and registration may take some time. Be sure to include time for this in your ad schedule if it is your first time using a specific channel.

    Would you like some help in registering and verifying an account, and getting set up to run your ads? Contact us and let us know, and we’ll be happy to help. If you plan to advertise using, we might even be able to offer you the service for free.

    Advertising Laws and Regulations Through China

    Censorship is an integral part of China. With new regulations added frequently, and old ones adjusted, restrictions have a direct impact on Chinese advertising.

    Before jumping into channels, here is a quick overview of the significant rules that need to be adhered to when advertising in china.

    • Putting any misleading content out is strictly prohibited
    • You cannot use any superlatives in your marketing materials
    • The Chinese flag cannot be used at all
    • Any sort of pop-ups used to advertise must be able to be closed with just one click
    • Going against good social norms is strictly prohibited, and social stability must be maintained with every advertisement
    • The advertisements must be clearly labeled so that users can tell between an ad and organic content
    • The normal use of the internet must not be interfered with when viewing internet advertisements
    • You must never advertise tobacco products anywhere, either online or offline
    • In addition to tobacco, prescription drugs also cannot be advertised anywhere online or offline
    • Specific industries require approval from the government on all ads, before publishing.

    Many industries face limitations on what they can advertise. Also, some industries cannot advertise at all. Examples of industries with strict regulations include gambling, gaming, real estate, and finance industries.

    Wondering whether your industry faces specific advertising regulations in China? Reach out to us here at, because we’d love to help.

    In addition to rules set by the government, individual channels also regulate ads shown on their media channels, because they are ultimately responsible for the content. WeChat, for example, reviews every ad before setting it live.

    To ensure that your Chinese online advertising campaigns succeed, make sure that you follow all the advertisement requirements and regulations. If they do not adhere, the advertisements will not be allowed to run.


    Released in 2011, WeChat started as a messaging system used to chat with friends via text. Now WeChat is China’s super-app where you can do everything from communicating, paying, buy insurance, order food, and much more. With over 1 billion active users, and a wealth of information on its users, it is a favored channel for advertising in China.

    WeChat is excellent for those businesses that are offering items in the food and drink industries, clothing, makeup, other apps, games, and specific entertainment options.

    Type of WeChat Advertising Available:
    Moments Advertising
    Banner Advertising
    Key Opinion Leader Advertising

    WeChat ads allow video, pictures, and text for all types of ads.

    There are specific WeChat advertising guidelines and regulations for the different types of advertising, with the most stringent being Moments Advertising.

    WeChat is an outstanding channel for both big companies like Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola but also smaller brands. For large brands, the enormous reach is vital, while the low starting cost and precise targeting allow SMEs to get positive marketing spend ROI.

    Tencent Video

    Tencent Video is a video platform with everything from shorter clips to tv series and full movies. Think of it as a combination of Netflix and Youtube.

    Tencent Video is excellent for just about any business that wants to showcase their products, services, or other information to a broad audience of billions of users.

    Type of Tencent Video Advertising Available:
    Video Advertising – PPC and Views Advertising

    You can purchase ad time directly from Tencent, or through Tencent Video offers different types of video lengths and spaces to fit your needs. So whether you have a smaller or more substantial budget, you can access your audience.

    Tencent News

    As China’s leading mobile news website, users frequently visit the site, with many visiting every single day. With up to date news stories released around the clock, and billions of user visits, Tencent News is a valuable channel for international advertisers.

    Tencent News fits particularly well for companies targeting more professional consumers. Examples would be international lawyers, bankers, website designers, and other cloud platforms seeking to build their China presence.

    Type of Tencent News Advertising Available:
    Banner Advertisements
    Block Advertisement
    Pop Up Options

    You may use videos, pictures, and text for all types of Tencent News ads, and they charge based on click. (cost per click model)

    Tencent QQ

    One of the most popular instant messaging services among China’s young population, QQ continues to be one of the most used and downloaded apps, on both computers and mobile devices. As one of the largest Chinese social networks, QQ is a highly sought after advertising channel for companies targeting the younger generations.

    QQ fits very well for companies looking to gain the attention of the younger Chinese market. Examples would be companies advertising clothes, toys, games, and such products.

    Type of Mobile QQ Advertising Available:
    Pop Up Advertisement
    Short Clip Advertisements
    Text Choices

    Tencent QQ ads allow for video, pictures, and text for all types of ads, and charges on a cost per click model.

    Baidu News

    Baidu News is the second major player when it comes to Chinese news, with a vast and very sticky audience. Users check stocks, the weather, and look at the latest and greatest news happening around the world. Additionally, many high-end businesses and companies get showcased on spotlight positions throughout this website.

    What makes Baidu News stand out is that Baidu has uniquely detailed information on users gathered through their search engine, allowing for exceptionally fine-tuned targeting of audiences. Due to the value of this to advertisers, Baidu’s digital advertising revenue keeps growing quarter by quarter.

    Baidu News fits well for more professional companies and brands, such as real estate firms, banks, lawyers, and other types of specialty professions.

    Type of Baidu Advertising Available:
    Banner Advertising
    Block Advertising
    Pop-Up Advertising

    Baidu News accepts videos, pictures, and text depending on the price paid for the ad, and the size of the ad creative. Baidu News charges on a cost per click model.


    TouTiao is an aggregate content platform that serves news and content based on the interest and actions of its users. Due to the effectiveness of its algorithms, TouTiao is an extremely sticky app with high engagement and time spent in-app.

    TouTiao’s allure for advertisers is that it tailors which ads it shows to users. Through this matching, it aims to increase the relevancy of ads served. In this channel, you can access a mixed audience, with both younger and middle-aged users.

    TouTiao fits brands and companies of all kinds, due to its matching of ads to the interests of users. As a result, you’ll find clothing and shoe brands mixed with services and professional services, and everything in-between.

    Type of Toutiao Advertising Available:
    Streaming Feed Ad
    News-Banner Ad
    App Open-Up Ad

    You can post up both pictures and videos, whichever you feel is the most effective for the specific business that you have.


    XiaoHongShu (little red book) is also known as RED throughout China. Starting as a social media review website, XiaoHongShu has transformed into a mix of social media and e-commerce. Now it’s 200 million registered users can research and discuss products in the app, and also purchase products directly in the app while surfing.

    With the majority of its users being female and born after 1990, XiaoHongShu is an excellent channel for beauty products, fashion, homeware, and many other similar categories.

    Type of Advertising Available:
    Post Advertisements
    Travel Advertisements


    Called Chinese Twitter, Weibo gets over 80% of its revenue through advertising on the channel. As a result, Weibo is exceptionally market-friendly and provides a lot of user-friendly features.

    Known as a microblogging website, it has over 445 million active users that frequently visit the site. With such a high number of users, Weibo advertising is a useful way of reaching a broad segment of the population.

    Weibo has a very diverse option of advertisement options to choose from depending on the company and business needs. Ranging in price, size, and, ad length, most companies will find something that works.

    As for industries, most will find a useful amount of users on the platform.

    Type of Advertising Available:
    Regular Ads
    Banner Ads
    Timeline Ads
    Landing Page Ads
    Welcome Screen Ad

    Weibo advertising allows for both pictures and videos and charges according to the pay per click model. Additionally, Weibo offers some advertising extras like purchasing a hashtag and other extras.


    Douyin is a short video app for mobile phones that has taken China by storm. Douyin is also one of the few Chinese apps that focused internationally, launching internationally under the name TikTok.
    Focused on user-generated content, Douyin allows users to share their videos or even create new videos in the app.

    An exceptionally sticky app, Douyin shows advertisements in between videos. As it is a relatively new app, there is still untapped potential for those advertisers able to capture the users’ attention.

    Very popular with teens and young adults, Douyin is a great fit for brands that want to appeal to a younger crowd. Example industries would be fashion, entertainment, beauty, and experiences.

    Type of Douyin Advertising Available:
    Video Ads
    Picture Ads

    Importance of Digital Advertising in China

    It is crucial to select the appropriate channel(s) for your ad goals. However, the cost of online advertising in China is different across channels, and it can be hard to know which channels will provide the best return on investment.

    The complexity of the Chinese digital advertising landscape is one of the key reasons why we created as a cross-channel advertisement platform. Efficiently and affordably run campaigns across channels and compare the results to find the best performers, all from one dashboard. With that knowledge in hand, advertisers can double down on what works, while continually testing and optimizing, and achieve the highest return on investment.

    This transparency and clarity are how international brands and companies get confident in advertising their products and services in China.

    So whether you are interested in leveraging ad technology or go directly to channels, we hope that this overview of digital advertising in China helps you achieve your China goals and makes marketing in China more approachable for you.

    Now We Would Love To Hear From You!

    Which online advertising channels in China interest you the most?

    Post your comments to these questions below or include any questions you might have.

    Thank you for taking the time to read, and we wish you an outstanding day!

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    This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Hello
      I have a small private day school in Toronto, Canada and I am thinking of doing advertising in China. We are on a very limited budget so, I am wondering if there is any cheap or even free advertising in China.. thank you for your recommendations.

      1. Hi Inna,

        Thank you for reaching out! Depending on how limited the budget is, there are options.
        For example, with it is possible to get started with very affordable advertising budgets, about 10-100 times lower than the starting budgets required by most agencies.
        There is no free advertising available in China, however, you can do some un-paid social media marketing. One suggestion is to start a Weibo account and a WeChat account, and start posting relevant content.
        That said, as the content needs to be in Chinese, it might be both cheaper and easier to run very targeted, small and affordable, paid advertising campaigns through
        Best of luck!

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