The Complete Guide to Mobile App Marketing in China

Mobile App Marketing in China

Let’s talk stats!

China accounts for 40% of global app spending.

Not just that, the average Chinese consumer spends about 4.2 hours a day using mobile apps, making them the most active users globally.

If you’re looking at conquering the Chinese market as part of your mobile app marketing strategy, the timing couldn’t be more perfect!

The app market in China is ripe with opportunities waiting to be grabbed.

In this guide, you’ll learn how you can take your app to the next level in the world’s biggest market. Including:

  • Top channels for Mobile App Marketing in China
  • Advantages of different channels
  • A few tips that will help you get the most value out of each platform

Find all the practical steps and advice you need to drive views, app downloads, and revenue with advertising in China. 

Key players in the China Advertising Market

Before we get started, let’s look at the key channels available to you. 

The top channels in the mobile app advertising space in China are – Baidu, Tencent, WeChat, Douyin and Toutiao. 

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick brief on each of these channels.

Baidu: The most popular search engine in China

Tencent: One of the biggest technology companies in China

WeChat: Part of Tencent, WeChat is the most popular messaging, social media and mobile payment app in China.

Douyin: The Chinese version of the short-form video app, Tiktok

Toutiao: Chinese news aggregator, that along with Tencent, controls 70% of the news info market

Taking your app to the world’s biggest mobile app market

With 750 million smartphone users and 464 million active users across Chinese app stores, China is expected to hit $62B in-app revenue by 2022.

Naturally, you’d be quite happy with even a modest slice of that pie.

So how do you achieve it?

You win by running ads strategically.

China is a key battleground when it comes to mobile apps for three reasons.

  1. It offers an incredibly massive user base
  2. There’s a ton of competition (which is a good thing because it forces everyone to be better)
  3. It offers amazing rewards for those who succeed

Let’s examine each of these points:

Massive user base — You need to find, reach, and get noticed by the target audience of your app. Advertising on China’s top channels allows you to achieve this with laser-focused targeting.

Strong competition — You can’t afford to silently sit on the app store without being present elsewhere. Advertising helps you to get noticed and stand out, advertising well is even better.

Amazing rewards, if you succeed — According to a report by Business of Apps, 40% of global app revenue comes from China. China is a hard market, but full of potential. Ads for your mobile app attract more eyes, clicks, installs, and purchases in China than almost anywhere else.

Unlock your mobile app’s potential for revenue growth with advertising in China.

Channel #1 Mobile App Marketing in China with Baidu

China’s search engine of choice, Baidu dominates the market claiming around 70% market share. If you look at the pie chart below, it’s not hard to see why Baidu should be on the top of your list of channels to advertise on. Apart from paid search, Baidu also offers other advertising options in the form of in-feed and display ads. 

baidu market share in china

Why You Should Advertise on Baidu

Use In-feed ads to drive installs

Baidu in-feed ads are the perfect way for you to get discovered because Baidu is the largest search engine in China. If someone’s searching for tower defence games, and your in-feed ad pops up later, there’s a good chance you’ll get an install!

Unless your brand is known by your target audience in China, you’re best to skip Search Ads for now. But Baidu has more to offer than just search ads!

In-feed ads display on Baidu’s mobile site, browser, and news system (Baidu Tieba). Given the overwhelming number of Chinese internet users on mobile, you can take advantage of this to advertise your mobile apps in China.

Baidu is right for you if you’re excited to:

  • Reach new audiences to get big numbers of app installs
  • Launch your brand awareness into the stratosphere, or
  • Retarget your existing users to increase momentum

Enjoy precise targeting to reach your audience

One of the best features of Baidu is how it meticulously tracks user behaviour. The detailed data collection enables you to target an audience perfectly suited to attract heavy users (and big spenders) to download your app and take the first step. This data is the secret sauce you need to find your next whales!

Channel #2 Mobile App Marketing in China with Tencent

As the owner of the biggest social network in China,  Tencent cannot be ignored when you are planning to reach the Chinese audience. The company runs well-known brands like Mobile QQ, Tencent Video, Tencent News and WeChat.

Why You Should Advertise on Tencent

Tencent ads allow you to reach more people than any other type of ad on the planet!

With a monthly active user base of over 1.1 billion people (most of those daily users), you’re able to reach over 90% of the online Chinese population.

More than that, Tencent collects enormous amounts of data about its users across many of the most installed apps in China. It’s an advertiser’s dream when it comes to targeting an ideally suited audience!

Hidden in all that data are your next whales. If you target correctly, you can find them.

Tencent advertising allows you to advertise throughout the Tencent network, including Mobile QQ, Tencent Video, and Tencent News. Tencent ads are available to iOS apps, plus Android apps available on specific app stores.

Let’s look at the different platforms you can use with Tencent:

Mobile QQ is among the most popular instant messaging services of China’s youth population. QQ has long been one of the most used and downloaded apps, both on desktops and mobile devices. Being one of the largest Chinese social networks, QQ is a particularly valuable advertising channel for apps with users under 30 years old.

Tencent Video is a video channel offering short clips, tv series, and full movies. Kind of like a combination of Netflix and YouTube.

Tencent News is China’s number one mobile news site. Users check it regularly to stay up to date. With news stories released around the clock — plus many millions of visitors daily — Tencent News is a strong channel for international app advertisers.

WeChat Banners are display ads across the WeChat app. WeChat has been dubbed as the ‘super app’, originally starting with chat features but now enabling many aspects of common Western social media apps. Banner ads are especially useful for growing your followers on the channel. has helped hundreds of brands reach the China market. To see how can help you get started with advertising on top channels hassle-free create a free account today.

Channel #3 Mobile App Marketing in China with WeChat

With Tencent being the biggest network in China, it’s no surprise it also boasts the number one largest channel — WeChat.

What does that mean for mobile app advertising?

WeChat has over 1 billion active users, and a huge amount of information about those users. It’s a much-loved channel for advertising in China.

Released in 2011, WeChat began as a messaging platform allowing chat via text. Since then WeChat has grown to become China’s super-app — you can do anything from communicating, making payments, buying insurance, ordering food, and more.

Because everyone is using it all the time, there’s no better choice than WeChat Ads (and by extension, Tencent Ads) for the ability to target ideally suited prospective app users.

PRO TIP: If you’re not sure where to start advertising your app, we recommend picking either WeChat or Tencent advertising channels. That way you’ll have mind-blowingly detailed targeting to take help you start finding and reaching those most likely to spend big with you.

Why You Should Advertise on WeChat

Reach a global audience

It’s estimated that about 15-20% of WeChat users are not located in China. That gives you an opportunity to advertise globally and internationally on the channel, or you can restrict the targeting to China-only. If you have a niche audience, it’s worth testing with more relaxed location settings to compare where you see results.

Make use of different promotion options

WeChat advertisements often feature prizes, promotions, and coupons. If your mobile app can support any of these, you should definitely try to feature that in your advertising. If you can incorporate loyalty programs (such as a benefit for X number of app uses per week), even better.

Take advantage of  precise targeting options

In certain types of WeChat ads also have the advantage of setting up highly targeted campaigns. For example: Targeting options for WeChat Moments Ads include the following:

  • Location: supports province, city or district
  • Gender & age: 14 to 65+ years old 
  • Education: PhD, master, bachelor, high school, primary (K-8th grade)
  • Marital status: single, married, newly married, raising a child
  • Mobile phone: chosen by OS (iOS, Android), type of network used
  • Interests: 18 categories and 122 sub-categories: Within the Games segment, there’s Multiplayer Online (Client), Multiplayer Online (Web), Mobile, Pocket, Mini games, Single-Player, TV, RPG + sub genres, Strategy + sub genres, Leisure and Puzzle + sub genres, Shooting, Fighting, Adventure , Racing, Children’s, and Board Games. There are also game themes from Oriental Paladin, to Science Fiction, and Swordsman to Modern Warfare. This helps you really nail your targeting and go for ideally suited potential users.
  • WeChat behaviour: Currently following your public account, Already using your App, Collected a WeChat coupon from an ad, Previous interest in your ads, and removes users who are not interested in your content. You can also build ‘Lookalike Audiences’ and target similar people to those who are interested in your content.

Channel #4 Mobile App Marketing in China with Douyin / Xigua / Huoshan / Toutiao Advertising

Better known as TikTok outside China, Douyin is a short video app for mobile that has taken the world by storm.

And now you have the opportunity to reach over 400 million of the platform’s daily active users!

One of the few Chinese apps that focused internationally, Douyin serves user-generated content, allowing users to share and create videos. Douyin is China’s #1 short video app.

And now the power of its advertising channel (with killer knowledge of user interests), is right at your fingertips.

Toutiao is another major news app in China with over 220 million daily active users who spend — on average — 75 mins+ on the app each day. TouTiao aggregates news content based on the interest and actions of each user. Due to the effectiveness of its algorithms, TouTiao is a very popular app with high engagement and time spent in-app, as users are served content they want to see.

Xigua is China’s #3 short video app with 50 million daily active users. Xigua receives more than 5 billion daily video views each day. You can learn more about the channel here.

With these channels you will have access to:

  • Highly engaged users that are habitually clicking around and exploring
  • People who use these apps extensively
  • An audience who wants to be entertained

So now all you need is a great ad that grabs them! There are three ways to grab such users effectively:

  1. You can borrow the idea of someone else’s successful ad. That’s unoriginal and will never get the same results. You can use elements, but copying doesn’t work.
  2. You can invest heavily in marketing resources and team members who specialise in China. There’s nothing wrong with that approach if it fits your budget. We have organisations with marketing teams who use to launch their ads and view reports.
  3. Finally, you can use the resources currently at your disposal to create a series of test advertisements to run and find out what works. Then scale the most effective performer(s).

Choose what best suits your brand’s current resources.

These apps (and several other very popular Chinese channels) are owned by ByteDance, and we’ll use ‘ByteDance’ to refer to advertising across any/all of these channels.

Why You Should Advertise on Douyin

Target young China

According to WalkTheChat analysis, more than 50% of Douyin users are under 24, and more than 80% are under 30. If you’re targeting young people, Douyin is an especially valuable channel to use. With 2/3s of Douyin users being female, you can select that channel if your target market is mostly female too. That said, tens of millions of males use the app every day too, so set your targeting options for your ideal audience.

Account size doesn’t matter

Douyin is heavily algorithm-driven. Getting engagement will see a large increase in traffic even if your account is small, whereas a large, known brand could experience very little visibility if an ad receives low engagement. Use high-quality creatives to improve your chances of engagement.


The app market in China has always been huge. But in recent months, app usage has taken off even more with people staying indoors. While there’s certainly a lot of competition when it comes to mobile app marketing, using the right mix of channels will help you get noticed, drive app installs and promote your mobile app in China.

Planning a Campaign? is one of the easiest ways to get started with selling in China. Use our self-service platform to run ads and drive quality traffic to your point of sale. Create a FREE account to get started.
The Complete Guide to Mobile App Marketing in China
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The Complete Guide to Mobile App Marketing in China
If you’re looking at conquering the Chinese market as part of your mobile app marketing strategy, your timing is perfect! The app market in China is ripe with opportunities.
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200234 Jing’an, Shanghai, China

© Copyright 2022 GoDigitalChina AS – Oslo, Norway
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