A Beginner’s Guide to Advertising on Douyin

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    Want to advertise your business to over 400 million Chinese consumers? 

    Douyin is the place to be. 

    But as a relatively new marketing channel in China, how can international brands across the world capitalize on its huge audience and viral popularity? 

    In this article, we’ll be answering that question and more, as we break down the advertising options available on the platform, and how you can use them to supercharge your Chinese strategy. 

    But before that… 

    What is Douyin exactly, and who uses it?  

    You’ll probably be familiar with TikTok — the viral video sharing platform that has taken the world by storm. Before TikTok, though, came Douyin: the original, Chinese version of the app, which launched in 2016 to huge success. 

    Just like on TikTok, Douyin users share short videos of themselves dancing, singing, and taking part in viral challenges. They can also leave comments on other videos, follow their favorite accounts on the platform, and engage with trending topics. 

    Think of it like Snapchat meets Instagram, where short videos form an endless feed of popular and recommended content. 

    So, are Douyin and TikTok the same?

    Not exactly. 

    TikTok and Douyin have the same interface, same features, and are both owned by Bytedance — but they’re not the same applications. 

    TikTok is the international version of Douyin, which can only be used in China. 

    Likewise, users in China cannot access or view TikTok. 

    So, although the apps share the same functionality, they’re two entirely separate platforms and are used by separate audiences. 

    Who uses Douyin, then? 

    douyin user profile

    Douyin, as is the case with TikTok, is dominated by a predominantly young user base80% are under the age of 30, and 65% are women. Over 60% also have college degrees. 

    More generally, TikTok is used by almost 70% of all social media users in China, over half of which access the app on their mobile device. 

    Together, these statistics make Douyin a great opportunity for international businesses looking to reach young, tech-savvy consumers in China who are educated and have a high earning potential. 

    Why should international brands invest in Douyin advertising? 

    why advertise on douyin

    Alongside a young and educated user-base, there are a whole host of reasons why Douyin ads could be a fast track to Chinese growth. 

    1. Douyin is one of the biggest marketing channels in China

    With over 400 million daily active users, Douyin offers access to a large and constantly increasing base of exclusively Chinese users. It’s also the most popular short video application in China, attracting over 20 billion views a day. 

    2. Douyin users have high disposable incomes

    Over 40% of Douyin users are young professionals living in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in China, meaning they’re very receptive to online advertising and are happy (and even actively looking) to spend money online. 

    3. You can target whoever you want to

    Want to reach a very specific user on Douyin? No problem! The Douyin ads interface lets businesses target users according to their age, location, gender, and interests, giving you access to the exact audience you want to reach. 

    4. Pick from a wide range of ad types

    Whatever adverts you want to invest in, Douyin advertising has got you covered. In fact, the app has a wide range of advertising formats to choose from, letting you build a strategy that’s right for you.

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    Douyin advertising options — what ad types are available on the platform? 

    There are four key advertising options on Douyin:  

    1. Open screen advertising 

    Also known as a ‘brand takeover’, an open screen ad is displayed every time a user opens Douyin. It fills the complete screen, has huge impact, and is either a static poster that lasts for three seconds, or a dynamic video that lasts four to five seconds. 

    Users will only be presented with four open screen ads a day, and new users will not be served them at all for their first seven days on the platform. 

    2. Integrated feed advertising

    Feed adverts take the form of short videos that are natively displayed in a user’s daily feed. They’re seamlessly integrated and can lead to great engagement — particularly if they’re filmed natively and emulate the style of popular user content. 

    Just like with standard posts on Douyin, users are able to comment on feed ads, share them with their friends, and post them to other social media sites, all of which could significantly increase a brand’s following. 

    3. Sticker advertising

    A sticker campaign sees a brand develop customized digital stickers that can be overlaid in user videos. These can be selected by users from the sticker menu, and will appear on the first row of options for three days, and at a random position thereafter depending on budget and popularity. 

    Similar to feed ads, branded stickers are a great way to engage with Douyin users natively, generating viral interest among those who use them. The trick is to create a sticker set that is relevant, on-topic, and serves as more than just an advert. 

    4. Influencer marketing

    For a more custom approach to Douyin advertising, influencer marketing is a great way to work directly with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) on the platform, and produce native content that connects your brand to their followers. 

    There is no set price or strategy for influencer marketing, as each KOL will have their own price points and requirements. Most KOLs, however, will offer video shoutouts, product placement opportunities, sponsored posts, and reviews. 

    How much does Douyin advertising cost? 

    There is no fixed cost for advertising on Douyin. 

    As the platform operates on a bidding basis, the cost of your Douyin ads will depend on who you’re targeting, what advertising format you’re using, and what industry you’re in. 

    Most ads start at $10.00 per CPM, but this is a ballpark figure and will change depending on how competitive your industry is. 

    Read our post on cost of advertising in China to learn how different channels compare to Douyin costs.

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    How to run a successful Douyin ads campaign — 5 top tips 

    To hit the right note with your Douyin ads, you’ll need to:

    1. Follow (or set) trends

    Douyin is a platform dominated by trends. Known as ‘challenges’, users create videos of themselves performing viral dance routines, lip-sync challenges, and funny skits. 

    Incorporate these trends (and their hashtags) into your campaign, and you’ll generate great results.

    2. Build rewarding relationships with KOLs 

    Want to reach a specific audience? Find a KOL in your industry niche, negotiate a deal, and work with them to create videos that feature your products, mention your brand name, and encourage their followers to check you out. 

    3. Target the right market 

    Douyin has really great targeting capabilities. 

    So, it’s important to make use of them and target the right market and audience according to their location, age, gender, and interests. Get it right, and your click-through-rates and conversions will soar. 

    4. Set goals 

    As with any campaign, you need to set defined goals. What do you want to achieve from your Douyin ads? 

    How many users do you want to reach? What are your KPIs? Without these answers, you’ll struggle to judge (and sustain) any success.  

    5. Review and optimize 

    Once you’ve set the right goals, you need to constantly review and optimize your Douyin advertising campaigns. 

    A low click-through-rate with a high reach, for example, is a sign that something needs to change — but what? Create your free AdChina.io account to find out. 

    4 successful Douyin advertising campaigns — and what you can learn from them

    Want to follow the lead of some of the biggest brands on Douyin? Here’s what you need to know: 

    1. Pizza Hut’s sticker campaign 

    pizza hut douyin campaign

    When American restaurant chain, Pizza Hut, wanted to expand its relevance with young Chinese consumers, Douyin provided just the answer. 

    Launching a set of promoted stickers (including the brand’s iconic red hat), the company was able to gain viral traction on the platform, generating over one million streams of user-generated content. 

    Key Takeaway: sticker sets are a great way to engage Douyin users in a native and organic way. 

    2. Oppos’ 20 million KOL challenge 

    oppo douyin campaign

    To launch their R11 phone, Chinese tech giant, OPPO, turned to Douyin KOLs to create viral videos that showed what they would do with ‘20 million’. 

    Halfway through the clips, we realize that the KOLs are talking about the 20 million pixels in OPPO’s new phone… not dollars. 

    This is a great example of how challenges, organic content and KOLs, together, can deliver powerful results.   

    Key Takeaway: a multi-format approach to advertising on Douyin can seriously pay off. 

    3. JD.com’s branded takeover

    JD douyin campaign

    In 2018, JD.comone of China’s biggest e-commerce sitesinvested in open screen ads on Douyin to promote its retail event, ‘Fun Festival’. 

    Encouraging users to ‘come dance!’, the campaign was viewed over 130 million times, and spiked a viral dancing challenge that over 26,000 users accepted. 

    Key Takeaway: fun challenges and paid-for-advertising can make a powerful combination on Douyin. 

    4. Oreo’s integrated feed campaign

    oreo douyin campaign

    In-feed ads are a great way to grab attention on Douyin, as Oreo found when it launched a series of integrated ads that celebrated New Year. 

    Featuring a fun mascot, the ads prompted users to send digital greeting cards to their friends on the platform. This, supported by KOL content, helped boost the brand’s relevance on Douyin.  

    Key Takeaway: interactive in-feed ads, backed up KOLs, is a recipe for relevance. 

    Want to achieve the same success?

    You’ve come to the right place. 

    Advertising in China isn’t easy — particularly on Douyin, which has no English interface and difficult set-up requirements to overcome. 

    That’s why we created AdChina.io: to help marketers like you unlock the most important (and rewarding) digital advertising channels in the world, without all the hassle. 

    Create your free account today to discover how we can supercharge your Douyin advertising strategy and deliver powerful results.

    AdChina.io has helped hundreds of brands reach the China market. To see how AdChina.io can help you get started with advertising on top channels hassle-free create a free account today.
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