WeChat is among the most powerful advertising channels in China. There’s a ton of value in WeChat ads — if you do them right. But what is WeChat and how does advertising work on the channel?
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WeChat Marketing Specialist, Wai Social
Growth Marketer, AdChina.io
CEO & Cofounder, AdChina.io
Head of Growth, AdChina.io
[Jie] Yeah, I can start on that one. thank you again. Olivia, very good. very good presentation. On the B2B side, actually, we have a lot of B2B customers and from our experience, that has been a very big challenge for them, trying to reach out to their targeted audience, which is, usually, businesses and, sometimes even industry. Industry is actually, and then, we have seen that, most of the Chinese social media are very much targeted towards the, the consumers and that is, something that they happen.
Fitting the challenges and, and also of course in China, China, Chinese market is so big that it is very hard to find the, the right audience with a limited budget because management it’s an ocean of information and also ocean offer official accounts on the different platforms, including, which app.
So what we have experienced is that, for companies that are targeting on B2B audience, they probably want to be a little bit careful in the beginning, especially in the, especially for the B2B companies. What we have, seen working is that, they, first of all, need to establish, establish their, they call it digital asset on potential platforms.
And WeChat is one of them. What we are trying to come up with, for our customers on the B2B side is a combined, solution, which is a multichannel. WeChat is definitely something, because it’s used for almost everything. So, there is no doubt that your targeted audience are on each channel, but there are two more questions to ask.
One is that, whether they are using out as a place for, gathering information about, the product or services that you’re trying to sell. That’s the first question. Second question. Is there a cost efficient way for you to, reach them in a targeted manner.
We have experiences that it’s not always working for everyone, but it’s definitely a channel to try. Our approach is to use minimum over the budget. To try out the different channels for B2B customers. Of course WeChat is something that we want to work with, at least test out, from the beginning with very limited budget as well.
And also what we also have in place is, for example, some news apps, including hotel from pipelines, and, Tencent news, which is also integrated with the AdChina.io platform. And also of course, last but not least LinkedIn China. LinkedIn China is totally disconnected with what LinkedIn for the rest of the world for obvious reasons.
So, yeah, what I would suggest is I a multi-channel approach, I’m trying to pass out to, with the small campaigns. Each app is definitely something that you should not do, for at least the beginning.
[Henrik] I think one thing for me, whenever I get, asked by, companies, is there any use for, for us on WeChat and, You know, what I always tell them is, you know, in, in China, whenever you go to a conference, whenever you go to a seminar, an expo, things like that.
And you see, you know, just imagine you see your dream customer, the CEO of the company is, sitting there watching, you know, watching this keynote talk. And if you pay close attention, you’ll see if his attention ever wonders of the speaker. It goes right to WeChat on his phone. and that is it’s one of the few channels where you can reach almost literally, but figuratively, everyone in, in China.
[Olivia] Hmm. I haven’t seen WeChat, released any figures on that.
You mean like how many, Out of Official Accounts, like how many are bloggers and how many are from actual brands. So basically how many are personal versus corporate? Sure. So there are, over the latest figures that WeChat released, where that there were over 20 million official accounts.
And there are almost 1.2 billion, monthly active users. There’s some, I can’t remember the exact number, but a good friend who runs another agency was putting together a report actually on the number of personal accounts. And when you look at it, the number of personal accounts actually is higher than the population of China, which I think tells you that a lot of people in China actually have more than one account, which I have.
I have several personal accounts that we use. To manage, you know, different, different, brand accounts, met people who are sales representatives will have multiple accounts.
The need for that is getting a little bit less now with your things like reach at work, which allow you to more clearly manage your sales contacts. Something kind of interesting there, which that shouldn’t what you were looking for, but there there’s definitely a lot of, personal accounts out there, but the latest number of branded accounts, Tencent released was 20 million.
[Henrik] Thanks for that. And one thing I just wanted to add is, you know, on the number of accounts, like through AdChina.io for each ad placement, we have an estimated maximum, result of about, how does a targeting, just the book. for example, in the tier cities, there’s about 674, million daily estimated reach, and about 238 for a T2 and about 50 million for the T1, which is a little bit over the, over the population.
so yeah, there’s, there’s definitely a lot of people using which app, which is part of the value.
[Olivia] So I think one thing actually that comes to mind at first, is though, even if you are able to get a SIM card and use the Chinese version of TikTok, I’ve seen actually a lot of success with, English teachers or people in your teaching English. And you know, just through these short 15, second videos, they’ve built amazing, followings on there.
So, you know, people, who are using, going in are looking to be entertained. It’s not really a platform that’s so great for conversion, but, you know, it’s great to kind of build an audience and build awareness on there. maybe Jie can speak to if there’s, you know, specific examples that you guys have had, you know, targeting, students or things like this on WeChat actually.
[Henrik] So on, on this one, it’s, you know, one thing there though is that would be like a personal account. not a business account, unless you have a, unless you have a Chinese company, And I mean, that’s, that’s a bit of, of the issue there as well. for a lot of language, I’d say a lot of schools, educational institutions is in China in order to, to advertise, you have to have a registered company and there’s a certain amount, of initial top up to start with.
Which is, how to say, Wechat is not too scary, anymore, but it does depend on, you know, the budget you have. So for example, right now the initial top-up dropped 10 X for we-chat, Meaning that you can get started. It used to be around 50,000 CNY to get started advertising.
Now we can do it for about 5,000. So this has, you know, this has put the bar a lot lower. Hmm. But the other thing is also like, where do you do the conversion? Right. and this, I think what you said there, Olivia is a very, very good ideas to build, you know, the, you, you can get a lot of attention on Douyin and things like that.
But the question is where do you take it from there? and getting the traffic out of the different channels in China can be quite quite challenging. so for example, one option is for, is to have a WeChat mini program, where you interact with your, your followers. and I think we’ll, we’ll talk a little bit more about that on one of the next question around e-commerce stores.
[Jie] Of course the, the topic of the, of, of the webinar is, around, WeChat and, a little bit wider to Tencent.
But it’s worth to mention that, ByteDance as a group of companies or a group of applications, they have become the largest advertiser advertising channel or media channel in China online. Not only because of, the, the speed of the pickup of their, of their applications, but also because of their, I would say focused on the advertising business as well.
I think Tencent has managed to, hold their, their urge, off the site. monetizing on their, on their, traffic by, my highest thing, in the past, I would say decade, they could have done it to much earlier on much faster than the others, but they have been very, cautious about that.
But then on the contrary ByteDance have been, very strong when it comes to supporting advertisers on their platform, optimizing the, the traffic that they’re generating. And so, that it’s lead to one factor, which is, Ocean Engine, which is the, the backend of almost all their products, impact down so much more the last to them.
Any other platforms in China AdChina.io platform, our platform, of course we have to, and under we, we’re connected with them a long time ago. And, we have been having a lot of customers using their, applications, there to market different products as well. software and apps included actually, that’s one of our top four.
Industry is not that we have our customers from, meaning mobile apps. So, Hmm. But at the same time, you have to understand that the largest mobile app, call it a marketplace, in China is held by Tencent. it’s this, app store called MyApp, run by Tencent. So, you can and you should, try to utilize the Ocean Engine to improve the downloads in China if you’re launching it in China.
But also again, coming back to our multichannel, suggestion, strategy, we would also suggest anyone who wants to go to China to consider, with their mobile app sense are considered to, to advertise, on. Or within also within the Tencent ecosystem as well because of this, the largest mobile app marketplace around by Tencent.
So, yeah, I mean, I, I don’t know how specific I need to be into this Ocean Engine, but, if you want, I mean, anyone, in this, in this webinar, well, is welcome to, to go into our platform and, and, play with the Ocean Engine through our API connection with them as well.
[Henrik] Yeah. And one thing to add there is also that we have, an integration with AppsFlyer as well. So it also offers a closed loop tracking. For their, app advertisement, that is possible.
[Olivia] To be honest. I don’t think we’ve ever dealt with any companies selling PC games, in China. I don’t know, Jie, have you ever, so I would first, I mean, I would first honestly, the first thought that comes to mind is you can use a mini program actually to drive, to drive downloads, to drive people to a game.
So you can kind of have a light. Version of this. a lot of times what you’ll see kind of apps or, or, games do is they have this, yeah, this mini program, for example, one app, you can access like six filters on the mini program and they drive you to download the app. so that would be one example of being able to use, we chat to kind of give a little preview, you know, use many programs, which are very easily sharable.
You can do great Moments advertising, with many programs and driving people in there and kind of give them a taste of what you’re doing and then, convert them, that way.
[Henrik] One thing I wanted to mention there as well as one of the things that’s really amazing with, with Tencent for, for PC games and mobile games is that you have such strong targeting.
Around, the games, like when it comes to behavior, you know, Brad showed like a, a tiny snippet there, earlier, but he didn’t make it all the way down to, to the game section. But, you know, we have everything from like, turn-based games to RPG, to, like specific like the games console, Like mobile games, like league of legends sports game, chess game, or in simulation racing, also flight shooting, fighting adventure.
Like it’s so specific because people are using WeChat, so much. So it’s, other things it’s definitely possible to drive very strong, traffic with the Tencent ads. Then it’s more about figuring out the next, the next step there. It can be like, we’ve, we’ve seen some, some, cases before where we’re able to drive the traffic to, our store, but it’s, it’s very much dependent on like a case by case basis, for, for games like where it is, because it is a bit of a, of, of a gray zone, because in China there, you know, the games need, you know, the approval to be allowed to sell.
So when we’re working to promote and advertise international games, it’s not that it’s illegal. It’s just that, how do I say there’s not a clear, policy for it. We have to be very careful and it’s on a case by case basis, how to do the conversion there.
[Henrik] From the top of my mind, I don’t think that there is any channel at the moment where we’re allowed that we’ve been approved to drive, ads Traffic directly to the Shopify store. the only thing that I can think of here is which are like basically setting up a week at official account.
You put the link to your Shopify store in the OA menu, the Official Account menu. In that way, you can get the traffic to leave the WeChat system and go to your, your Shopify eCommerce store. but what we, what we generally do with our customers is we help them set up or we chat mini program for the, others.
I basically taking their Shopify store and recreating it in a way on the WeChat mini program, and then selling through there because then you can just drive the traffic directly in with, the amazing, targeting that Brad showed, showed earlier.
[Olivia] Yeah. I think he made a very good point that, you know, you can have it actually in your WeChat menu. And I would say that it’s really important to not, if you can. To not take, make people go outside of reach ads. Everything in China for consumers is so, so easy. So if you make things more difficult – if I have to go into my browser, if I have to, you know, jump five steps to actually go to your e-commerce store, I’m not going to do that because I can go somewhere else within, you know, two or three clicks.
Like you have to make it so easy for someone because they’re used to being able to just browse products purchase, you know, within one or two clicks. so it’s quite, I think almost detrimental to drive somebody out, when you can create a mini program, very cheaply, very fast, they’re very effective. and they’re really great for the consumer to use.
[Henrik] In general, yes. it doesn’t necessarily have to be a full business day. It depends on, it depends on the, on the check-in how long it takes, but every advertisement that’s created is manually approved before it goes live.
And this is done by the channels in because they are the ones who are in the end, responsible for the advertising on their channels. So they take it very, very seriously. But it’s, you know, like if you’re used to advertising in the West, it’s not different from, you know, what’s going on with Facebook, Google, you know, there’s always that verification time and it’s basically the same, the same in China.
[Jie] If you know the history of WeChat it’s, Actually, it’s almost a spinoff, internal competing product, QQ, which is the, which is the previous, I think still quite dominating, social media platform in Tencent.
So in the beginning, these two heart or ecosystem, or we each had have been outside, the, the, the kind of the. financial, backend of, of advertising, platform are in Tencent. But these days they have been making the effort to combine these two and our APIs are being upgraded, updated.
And so, so on, we see that the direction is towards that direction. So going forward, I would assume that, in a matter of months, within a year, we will be able, or they will probably come up with something similar to Ocean Engine, off of ByteDance status, which is covering, most if not all their media channels.
So, that might be our, prediction, but not, not at this moment. At this moment, we still have to treat them a little bit differently. But, again, coming back to, the, the value of our platform, that’s all exactly why we built this platform. With this platform, you have a multi-channel capability.
They are from the same company or they are from different companies. And it is important to be able to compare, the performance of different campaigns via different, channels of course, with different messages and targets, groups and so on different combinations in short.
[Olivia] Or this person noted as well. It’s hard to get into China at the moment. So it kind of takes, my number one answer, you know, I get asked this question a lot. I actually have an article specifically answering this question, on my LinkedIn page. so there’s a lot of good links in there, but my first answer is always to just come to China somehow.
it’s very difficult to understand what’s going on here or to keep up with going on here when you’re outside. and I’m sure you guys can relate. I can definitely relate. I wasn’t here for nine months and now being back, I can really feel the difference and notice the difference. just from being able to watch people on the subway, you see how people are going into stores, interacting, you know, with each other, what they’re looking out, they’re buying.
so it’s, you know, amazing to be able to come here and, you know, I think, another thing I always suggest is, you know, try and do your own work, like try and read as much as you can, you know, follow every single Italian brand on recheck. There are thousands I’m sure. And look at what they’re posting.
Look at their content. You know, look at everything that they’re doing. you know, follow these people, who are working for these companies on LinkedIn, reach out to them. You know, I think there’s a whole community of people who are sharing information about what’s going on in China. And it’s not really, in a traditional sense because it’s all happening so fast and so updated.
So you need to be actually following what the brands are posting or what these people who are working here. I’d say, But yeah, just try to get your foot in the door anyway, somehow. and come to China when you can, when, when it’s open again.
[Jie] Identify ways you can help others in this space and you will create value. You’re contributing value by doing this because first of all, Chinese market is the largest market in the world and it’s going to be even more so going forward second, I mean, there is a kind of a rebalancing of the, world, value chain, ongoing right now.
And, by doing this by helping Italian, brands and companies to go into Chinese market, you’re helping with that process and the trend as well. And also from our experience, you know, we built this platform and china.io, trying to, automate as, as much as possible, on this, marketing process.
But then what we have realized, from the beginning as well, there is one road that can never be replaced by, the software that is the, you know, the knowledge, the idea in different industries, in your specific industry and also your local knowledge and also your trust, with the local brands, out there.
that is very important because the cultural difference is so much, I mean, Olivia is living in, in, in China and, and the usually probably can, can, can come prove this as well. I mean, it is important to have that kind of, intermediate as, either from a consultant or from a media agency that is, locally in, easily, that you have to be able to communicate this, all the way through.
Or in the worst way you have to shield the, the, the, your, your, your client locally in Italy, from all the complexity and hard to understand the things that, you know, it’s, it’s very hard. It’s very easy to get frustrated, you know, and say, forget about it. I will, I will go to say a Switzerland. Yes.
Instead of, instead of China, But then, you know, it’s a, if you want really want to go global, and if you really look at also the outlook of the global economy right now, I mean, China is where the opportunity is, is where the market is. And we don’t know what’s going to happen next year. But what we know for sure is that at least until, end of 2021, China will be continuing to be the strongest, the market for consumer or, or, or business industrial products.
Across the world, and this is something, no one should ignore. And I think you are a contribution locally there we’ll, we’ll, we’ll create value. So, welcome to the club. And I want to, just before I hand back to you, Brad, for, for the wrap up, I want to give also two suggestions to you.
One thing is, you know, look at, look at joining your local businesses. We for China’s. For example, in Norway, we have the Norway, China business association where I’ll say, which does a lot. And I to say, every country in the world has this type of business association. So just reach out to them, and start volunteering, or even just join us a member if that’s an option for you.
I think most of these have a special pricing for. for students, but I think it’s even better if you can, join and donate some of your time to help them run the events, things like that, because then you build the network. so amazingly, quickly, and then, you know, you also start to understand, like, what’s the challenges they have.
you understand, you know, which of the Italian companies are going to China, things like that. and the other specific suggestion I wanted to mention is. And there’s a little, a little bit, you know, similar to what, what Olivia recommended is, you know, do some work and create, just write some content, come up with a blog post.
For example, like Olivia said, do a research, figure out these brands, these Italian brands are on WeChat. here is what they write about, you know, something, anything that has some data, some validity to it. For example, by, you know, ranking them by the number of we-chat posts that is currently available, things like that, or taking the top 10 Italian brands looking at, you know, which of the features of which are, do they use, do they postpartum, do they post, frequently?
Do they have a, which of many programs, things like that. and then afterwards reach out to agencies and also tools like add China IO and ask if they would publish the post for you. in your name, you know, with a link to your profile somewhere, you know, and if you do this, do this over time, you’ll start to build, the name for yourself in the industry, even while you’re you’re in the university.
So you can get our running start. and, yeah, that’s just some, some advice there.
[0:00] [Brad] Welcome everyone to today’s a special online event. How to skyrocket your sales with WeChat ads. And bear in mind, It’s not only applicable for selling, you know, physical retail goods, but also for driving app downloads, attracting university students. Anything that can be done with great advertising.
In this session, we’ll share with you the ins and outs to succeeding and advertising and selling in China specifically when it comes to WeChat and WeChat ads. So you’ll definitely learn a few things, whether you’re new to the China market, or you want to scale up your existing efforts.
Hello, Samuli from Finland. So now you probably know this, but there’s not much point attending webinars and not taking action. So we do these education sessions for free to help you do just that. So please do take notes, make dot points, whatever jives with your particular note taking style about today’s session and that’ll help you to prioritize and clearly show what your next steps and action items are.
Okay, so in today’s session, we’ll cover quite a lot, but in particular, you’ll get an overview of how China marketing is different to marketing in the West. There’s a lot of similarities. Of course, the principles are almost all the same, but there are differences in the culture and the technology and in the approach that China and Chinese people have towards buying.
So no surprise that being a webinar all about WeChat, we’ll take a look at the platform and the channel, what makes it interesting. And most importantly, what the advertising options are and what makes it so powerful and worthwhile no perspective. We’ll share with you. Some of the experiences AdChina.io users have had advertising on Wechat through our platform, and give a quick demo on just how easy it is to set up and run your ads through AdChina.io.
[2:25] So before we get started today, let’s introduce our speakers today. We’re joined by a special guest. Olivia Plotnick, Olivia helps brands in China, understand and execute strategies to reach consumers on social media.
So Olivia’s managed social media accounts for brands in China, across different industries and has managed to help and grow several nonprofit organizations in Shanghai. After working in agencies, most recently at Ogilvy’s Shanghai office, Olivia now runs a boutique social media agency based out of Shanghai. In her spare time Olivia also sits on the board of directors as president of IPWS the International Professional Women’s Society, a non-profit organization based out of Shanghai that connects professionals with the mission to empower women, to change the nature of leadership.
As for me, I’m Brad. I work at AdChina.io, and I create a lot of our educational content around the tech tools innovations in the world of Chinese advertising and a lot of our communications across email and social media. So I’ll present just a couple of things a little later on. Towards the end of our session, you’ll be joined by Henrik, a serial entrepreneur and China marketing expert and Jay, our CEO and co-founder.
With extensive experience, building international teams and businesses across Europe and Asia, they’re both based out of Norway. So Henry can, Jay will take over for the Q&A at the end. So as always, we’ll do the Q&A session. If you want to get specific and ask about your industry, your organization, or your niche, please go ahead.
[4:00]We’re happy to get specific. And of course, Olivia will join in for the QA as well. So if you have any questions that come up during her presentation sure. To put those into the chat and we’ll make sure it all gets covered at the end, just to explain who we are and what we do AdChina.io, we help organizations, brands and businesses get set up and advertise and sell into China.
And to be clear, we are a tool first and foremost. So we integrate with all of the top media channels in China. And that allows you to run ads from an easy to use platform that’s entirely in English. And so we often get asked and yes, we do, and can help with the campaign strategy and support side of things.
We offer that in our subscription packages, but if you’re already working with an agency, that’s fine, keep working with them. And we can be the tool that you use to run the ads and to deliver the reports. And you can say all that data in an open, reliable, and transparent way. You can continue to work with your agency partners on the strategy side of things.
So without further ado, I’d like to welcome Olivia platonic from Wai Social to take us through advertising in China and specifically the ins and outs of WeChat welcome, Olivia, over to you.
[5:28][Olivia] Great. Thank you so much, Brad. And, it’s great to be here with you virtually. I’m coming to you from Shanghai. So good evening.
Good morning, wherever you are in the world at this time, I’m happy to sit with you here for about the next hour and talk about one of my favorite things to talk about, which is WeChat. I’ve been living in China for almost six years now, aside from the nine months that I was just trapped outside the country when the borders closed, but I managed to, to come back and get back to my team here.
So, as Brad mentioned, I’ve been working for agencies here in China for the past five years. And, you know, have worked with nonprofits and large companies all on their social media strategy. So before we, you kind of get into actually reach at, I really liked to take a whole look at, you know, what exactly makes, China’s so different from every country in the world, in terms of their technology and in terms of their use of apps and of the internet.
What’s pretty staggering is just how much of the population actually is using internet, through their mobile phone. So it’s nearly a hundred percent, as you can see, almost all of China’s internet users are accessing the internet through their mobile phone. Year on year growth, just to give you a comparison of internet users in the US versus China – in China, we had year on year growth of 80 million.
[7:00]Whereas in the US it was only 8 million. So, you know, not only is, has internet already penetrated a huge, sector of the population, but it is growing at an enormous, enormous speed. So because all of these internet users are accessing the internet on their mobile phone. Everything happens in the palm of your hand.
So when you think about, you know, how users search for products or brands or, or information, you know, in the West, when we go on our desktop and we’re looking at these nice big screens, you know, or typing in keywords, you know, browsing a lot of different sites. That’s not really happening in China, you’re doing everything on your smartphone, within different apps.
One of those main apps is WeChat and WeChat really isn’t that old. So it was launched in 2011 by 10 cent company, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with. And, you know, I remember living in Beijing in 2012, actually, when WeChat, you know, first started, and they were starting to convert a lot of Tencent’s QQ, which was an instant messaging, desktop app over to WeChat.
[8:14]Now today we have over 1 billion, monthly active users that was as of January, 2020. So, you know, if you come to China, most likely, you’re going to meet every single person here with a WeChat. Now outside of China, there are about 70 million, I believe is the last number I saw, accounts for, for people that have WeChat outside.
You know, a lot of those are Southeast Asian countries. I get asked the question a lot. Is WeChat is going to spread to countries in, in the West, if it’s going to be picked up. And, you know, I think the answer really is that it’s not going to be adopted by people in Europe or the US. But what you’re mainly going to see is a lot of these Chinese who were traveling abroad and we can travel again, using we chat, you know, to discover tourist locations, hospitality or mobile payments, things like that.
So it is an important tool still outside of China. You know, we see people spending a lot of time in each chat. About an hour a day is the average amount of time that people are spending inside this app. And you are doing everything in just one app. So, you know, you can send payments to a group of people or just to one person.
It is a social feed. So it’s kind of like, Facebook where you have a Facebook wall. And you’re able to see posts from your contacts. So your contacts may be sharing links. They may be sharing, you know, small written text updates. They can share up to nine photos at a time. you can now share videos, and short video updates.
[10:04]So it’s a very much a social feed. You can do things like pay your utilities. So I pay my water, my gas, my phone bill, all within WeChat. And you can also, you know, order a taxi. You can buy train tickets, you can buy plane tickets all without ever having to leave this one app. and actually. Here is a very good graphic.
I like to show that kind of, encompasses really everything that WeChat is if you take all these other apps that we’re using in the West and you kind of fit them into one app. So it has a huge, huge amount of functionality. That’s why, you know, and we can talk about it a little bit later, but you hear a lot of these other apps, like, DouYin or TikTok, and Xiaohongshu, a lot of these other social media apps they’re of course rising in popularity.
But we chat is so, so much, entrenched as a part of people’s daily lives. That you’re still going to have people using it. You know, people are still going to check their Moments are still going to be messaging. So this isn’t going to just go away anytime soon.
[11:17]And I think. When we, before we go into, you know, how brands kind of use this, it’s important to look at where WeChat started. So when the app was first released, you were really just adding people. You know, you, everybody, to this day, you have a unique. QR code, which you can scan and add a friend. So no jumbling with a bunch of numbers, trying to add somebody into your contact book, but you were able to add people and start messaging back and forth with them.
And this second screen is really where WeChat kind of, Splits from something like WhatsApp, and where they, they really provide a very unique opportunity. So they started allowing brands to create Official Accounts and these brands could push content. Push content to anybody that was following them.
So you had to specifically be following this brand and you could receive content from them and it would appear it still does appear directly in your messages feed. So keep that point in mind. We’ll come back to it a little bit later. Then we chat evolved into a mobile payments app. So right around the time of Chinese New Year, where it’s.
[12:33]Very a huge cultural tradition to send, you know, red packets and give people money. Around this time, WeChat released a mobile payment function where you could send a digital red packet to your contacts, and pay people this way. Now, you know, I honestly cannot remember the last time that I used cash in China.
I wouldn’t be able to tell you where I have any, I don’t keep any on me. It’s all through mobile payments, mostly through WeChat and sometimes through, AliPay as well. And now today, the last screen that you see here is of a mini program. So we chat has evolved and they now allow. apps within WeChat, which is kind of a complicated concept, but basically you can think of WeChat as becoming some sort of operating systems.
So they now have these small mini apps with inside, WeChat and a lot of them have to do with e-commerce. So a lot of brands will have a mini program. That is very customizable, almost like their website and China. So consumers can browse their products. They can easily share these products with their contacts on WeChat, and they can purchase them just within a few clicks.
[13:53]So it’s a very, very, very easy, purchase journey on WeChats. And this is a really unique platform for brands because. You’re able to send content into someone’s personal messages. So unlike, you know, Facebook or Instagram, where of course you, it is personal, you know, you’re following your friends and your family.
Maybe some influencers and you know, of course brands can have sponsored posts or they can send you content in there. But really with WeChat, this is your main messaging platform. Email is not widely used in China. So WeChat is where you’re going to communicate with, you know, your family, your friends, your coworkers, potential clients and customers.
And so brands, are able to enter this almost very sacred space. And that’s what makes it so difficult as well. If you’re pushing out irrelevant content, if you are doing it too often or too little people are going to unfollow you and that’s why it is so, so, so difficult for brands on WeChat. because it’s so hard to get followers.
It’s so hard to actually gain attention this screen, on the right. You’ll see, you know, That is almost what my phone looks like on a Friday evening, a lot of brands tend to push out content on a Thursday or Friday. No reason why there’s no, no data to support that that works the best, but they tend to do it anyways.
And so you’ll see your, your account can just end up with only content from brands you’re following quite a lot. so it can be really overwhelming to receive all of this content. Now there’s over 20 million Official Accounts as the last data that WeChat released about this. So that’s a lot of accounts, and actually some data from last year, which I didn’t put in here, but.
[15:54]Only 3% of those accounts receive over 10,000 views on their articles. So it’s really, really difficult to grab attention. the average read rate of articles is around 1,400 reads, and this is a 24% drop from the year before. So that is a huge, huge drop, in, you know, how easy it, how difficult it is to, to gain attention.
The average user, is really only following about 20 accounts. So the screen that you saw previously, you know, with all this content from, from all these brands, I’m following close to I think 900 accounts. So it’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But you know, over the years, people have just unfollowed accounts at a very high rate because so many brands were pushing out such terrible content, but they just didn’t want to, to be following these accounts anymore.
Now, you’ll see here as a brand. you know, when you send a message, it, it shows up kind of as a message from anybody else on your contact list was, and then you’re able to, you know, to have several articles and content attached there. Now, what exactly can content look like on WeChat? Here’s you know, another thing that I really love about this platform is that I think people don’t realize that you can have.
[17:21]Really amazing content on here. So of course you can have, things that look a little bit more like a blog, so very straightforward, but you can also have, you know, really interactive content on here. So you can have things that people need to slide. You can have things that people need to tap and different photos will come up.
You know, you can have really fun animations, so you can make this content really actually interactive and exciting. Yeah, this is, a campaign from H&M over the holidays where you had to, you know, shake your phone and play a little game, and then it gave you videos and an opportunity to connect to their e-commerce store.
So there’s really a lot that you can do. This example is from an Italian toothpaste brand. they recently did a, campaign with, just amazing, amazing illustrations and graphics on it, but what makes WeChat, you know, so different, you know, we talked about that. It’s very hard to get attention. and you know, it’s this kind of sacred space that you’re entering, but the other really big differences are that it’s, a very closed ecosystem.
[18:35]So we call it like a walled garden. It is not a tool necessarily for discovery. I think too many brands come in and they hinge on, WeChat. For their, you know, end all be all platform for discovery in China. and this should really be used as a platform to nurture existing leads, you know, to build loyalty programs, and to, you know, push out really high quality content.
So it’s also, you know, it gives you pretty limited, tracking if you’re just using, you know, the, the, the basic functions. can’t tell so much about your current followers and your audience. so you’ll hear a lot. This term called private traffic, which is, brands will actually build up their own WeChat groups.
There’s other own group chats, almost like a WhatsApp group chat, but it will be run and managed by the brand. So they have. I’m a lot closer access to their customers. And there’s not really any thing like SEO on WeChat. you know, over the years we’ve seen this build up a little bit, but it’s, you know, to no comparison, of Google, you know, putting out blogs and hoping that, your SEO is going to improve over time.
Within the past few years, we do see people searching a lot more in WeChat, and they’ve just released new features, that allow you to link hashtags to articles, which gives you a little bit more in terms of options for discovery, but it’s still very, very tricky. So, like we were talking about, you know, it’s, it’s a closed ecosystem.
[20:16]When you receive a message from a brand, you could potentially, share it on your Moments. However, if you share something on your Moments, only those people who you are connected with. Are going to see this content that you shared. If you have a connection and they, I like this post their connections, won’t see it as you can do, you know, on Facebook, or LinkedIn.
So it doesn’t really spread that much. You know, you can have top stories where you can see what your friends are reading. So your content may be discovered in this way. And of course through group chats. So group chats, we find are one of the biggest drivers for getting content read for a lot of brands though, sharing it in relevant group chats or they’re building their own.
Like I mentioned, there’s very limited tracking. So, you know, you’re able to get basic demographic info. but you’re not, unless you’re using a third party platform, you’re not really able to get specific info on most of your followers. Not really any SEO. So like I mentioned, you know, now we have this hashtag ability.
Just within the past few weeks that was released, but there’s not really, you know, for accounts that have been publishing content for a lot, a long time, they’re not gaining followers through having amazing SEO.
[21:45]And growth is really slowing. So to give you a visualization of kind of the numbers that I was talking about earlier, this gives you an idea of the read rate over time. So, you know, back a few years ago when there were not so many brand accounts, it was a lot easier to get your content read for sure.
And now we just have so many posts going on. The second slide to the right shows you, the two different types of official accounts that brands can have. and just how you know, their, their, follower and subscription rates is dropping pretty significantly over time. So, this is where we get into WeChat ads.
And I think, you know, before we talk about ads, it’s really important to go back and, talk about the founder of WeChat. So this is Allen Zhang and his whole concept. His whole idea of WeChat was that it’s an amazing user experience. So unlike Facebook or Instagram, even LinkedIn, or Google. You are not having all of these ads popping up at you all the time.
Allen Zhang has always restricted, brands and, and this, you know, ability for brands to bombard people with content. So brands from an official account, you know, they’re only allowed to make four pushes per month. So you can’t even be sending messages all the time. Just whenever you want. You can only do it four times per month.
And he also limited ads only to, you know, a few years ago. It wasn’t always friends. Didn’t always have the ability to do advertising on moments. And now today, a user can only see, or they will only see up to two ads and their Moments feed, within a day. So normally when I’m browsing through my Moments, you know, looking through the social feed, I will see about one per day, sometimes too.
[23:48]So it’s very rare that you will get an ad. and you know, Allen Zhang has really made this a point about WeChat is to be very, very protective of the user experience. So when you were. Creating ads. I think it’s really important to keep this in mind that users on WeChat they’re not used to, or they’re not expecting a lot of advertising.
So when you’re creating an ad, this needs to be very personal. It needs to, you know, essentially really not feel like an ad, more than any other platform. And there’s a couple of things, placements and ways that you can utilize advertising on WeChat. so you can have a banner ad at the bottom of an article, which is usually, cheaper than, than having a moments ad.
You can have a moments ad, like I talked about, which will appear, you know, in this social feed. You can have advertising, within a payment message. So if you buy something with a mini program, and you receive a receipt from your service messages, you can have the ability to have a banner ad there.
You can have ads within mini programs, and you can also have in game ads. As well, so to kind of dive deep on two of the most popular ones that I see most of the time, are the, the ads at the bottom of the article. So these tend to be a little bit, less expensive, but it’s a lot harder to grab intention.
[25:21]So keep in mind that on average, we find that only about 15 to 20% of people who open the article actually read the whole entire article all the way until the end. So even if you have, you know, 1400 people who are reading the article, only a small percentage of those are actually going to make it all the way through, down to where, the ad is placed.
Now the other one that I see the most often is on Moments. So it’s definitely the most visible, the most eye catching. however, you know, as the same with sending messages or sending content as a push post, this is also a really sacred space. So users, you know, they’re only seeing one to two ads. Per day.
So if this is something that is, very, very salesy or just not, targeted to your audience, it’s really not going to land well or perform well. And so before I leave you, I just want to kind of leave you with a few last points about things to remember when you’re creating content for WeChat, As we discussed at the beginning, WeChat is used for, you know, almost literally everything.
So with your content, with any ads that you’re doing, you’re really going to have a lot of noise to break through, and a huge barrier to get through. So, you know, I know this sounds very cliche, but you really have to know who you’re targeting. And for China, this comes at an even, you know, bigger, importance because in China, it’s not just, you know, one country, there are so many different dialects.
[27:08]There are so many different regions. There are so many different cities and they’re all such distinct cultures within themselves. You know, that something, if you run an ad that targets people in Beijing, that as you know, probably not going to land the same as it is if you run something in the South.
So really understanding, you know, who you’re actually targeting, who you’re speaking to with these ads. and I think, you know, keeping in mind that WeChat is not going to be your, your main discovery channel in China, just because it’s used by the majority of the population. doesn’t mean that, that you should put all your eggs in the WeChat basket.
[28:08]Of course it’s a very important channel and you definitely should be on it for the most part. Yeah. but you’re going to have to take a look at, you know, where, what other social media apps are your customers using? What other e-commerce apps are they using? If that is a flexible, you know, can you do something offline?
How can you engage people in an actual experience? So WeChat, you know, is, is not, is not your one size fits all solution for China. And I think. You know, another important thing is ads can be really great for exposure. You know, something like Moments, ads can be really great for exposure, but that’s 50% of the job.
Let’s say you get, you know, 200 new followers from this ad that you run on moment. And this ad, you know, is not really, it’s a great ad. It caught people’s attention, but it’s too far removed from actually the content that you start publishing on your Official Account. It is so easy for people to unfollow accounts, especially when you pull them in with campaigns or influencers or advertising.
There’s a lot bigger risk to actually lose those followers. So, you know, when you’re doing this ad, make sure that it actually ties into your larger content strategy that people aren’t going to be surprised or shocked when they then receive a message from your brand in their personal feed with content, that just isn’t relevant at all.
[29:19]And the last point is, you know, expect to play the long game. with WeChat, I think a lot of, you know, a lot of brands come in from the West and where they’re spending, you know, five or $10 on some sponsored posts or Instagram or Facebook, and they’re getting a ton of new followers in, and you put money into WeChat and it takes you six months to get to a thousand followers.
So it’s, it’s really, A long game. It’s really have to be very, very conscious with your content. I think, you know, and don’t take the long game to me as you plan out your whole year’s worth of content. and you sit there and you just kind of deploy it. I think WeChat, you know, it is a long game and it’s a game that has to be played really, upfront, really interesting.
Instantly things are changing and China’s so quickly WeChat, you know, was constantly introducing these new functions, new things to play around with. So you have to have this long-term mindset with a very kind of short term execution strategy.
So yeah, that is all for me at the moment. hopefully it wasn’t too quick or fast of an over youth through everything, but, happy to stick around and take your questions.
[30:37]Thanks, Olivia, lots of great information there. It was a great session and lots of value in that presentation, and it was great to learn more about the Wechat platform and what to keep in mind when it comes to running feature ads.
Now, there are a few things that I wanted to cover as well. And firstly, it’d be great to get into the weeds a little bit and talk about the numbers. So originally I considered doing breakdowns for different industries and different verticals, but actually there wasn’t a huge degree of variation in our data.
So rather than complicate things, I thought it best to keep it nice and simple. So if you look at the WeChat Moments, ads, the ones that are kind of like Instagram stories, you can only do CPM or optimized CPM campaigns. So, if you’re going for clicks, that optimization has to be in how you present the ad as WeChat actually doesn’t give the optimization.
[31:37]Doesn’t do that for you. So optimized CPM just means that it’s tied to a particular conversion goal, similar to how Facebook ads are. So that might be generate lead information, drive up downloads, promote an e-commerce store, that sort of thing. So by far, the biggest variable is who you’re actually targeting.
So tier one, that’s Beijing and Shanghai. If you target those regions, then you pay a premium. So they’ve got the highest purchasing power, and that goes hand in hand with higher costs for you to reach them. And so the tier two cities, they’re a little more expensive to advertise to and have a little lower purchasing power.
And then for the other cities, They are extremely affordable to reach, but a little less likely to buy. Now that said tier three and tier four cities, especially this year have accelerated their purchases, the highest rates of all. So obviously it’s still not the best choice for, you know, premium and luxury goods, but especially for practical things can definitely be a worthwhile market.
[32:41]And as always, we say it every webinar, the idea, and the key is really to test see what works. Dial down what doesn’t work, dial up what does work well. So I want to just share with you the results from a recent campaign we did for a company . Now this campaign ran for seven weeks and had a budget of four and a half thousand CNY, which is $670 USD.
So in this particular WeChat campaign, quite beneficial from a, get the word out perspective, it’s secured a bunch of followers. Well, so I had a good amount of clicks and a couple of leads. And now what makes the followers valuable is that it will continue to offer value over time. So that’s one major plus of which out ads you can make posts that go out just to your followers and those aren’t ads.
So I’m sure you can see why growing your followers would be great if you’re thinking about the future and wanting to improve your ROI over time. Okay. So now I wanted to take a look at the AdChina.io platform. So I’ll share my screen and we can take a look at how to set up a WeChat moments ad. So I’ll share my screen.
[33:58]I’ll make sure I select the right screen. And now you should be seeing my screen. Yep. Perfect. Okay. So we are just looked into the AdChina.io platform. And in here you can go into the marketplace, you can see all of the different channels and you can click through to those, to get breakdowns on those particular channels.
There’ll be videos and images and showing you exactly what you can and can’t advertise, or I’m not sure if they. Go into what you can advertise. There are a number of industries and verticals that China doesn’t allow for advertising. If you’re not sure whether you’re in that gray area or not just get in touch and we’ll be able to help you with that.
So yeah, you can say with WeChat, these are the conversion goals, essentially that you can set up. In there. And you can say that for all of the channels. I won’t spend too much time on that though. I want to get into setting up an ad. I’ll go back to ads manager on, WeChat.
So I want a WeChat moment side and I’ll do an 800 by 800 with images and texts. So you can see all of the different placements that you can do here. And we’ve got an example of what each of those looks like on the right side of the screen. So if we come down, I will just put in placeholders there and click through to setting up the ad itself.
[35:37]So you can target based on locations, whether that’s a particular city or overseas, I would just select the tier two cities for now. Of course you can select by age. And you’ve got all of the sort of typical, criteria there, but with WeChat and a lot of the time it’s channels, but especially Tencent’s channels, you can go very heavily into the data and it collects a lot of data about people and you can see exactly the clients of.
Cause. So you’ve got, say, cheap car, mid range, car, exclusive car. So there’s just this wealth of data and it gets highly, highly specific. And you can go through and target based on interests and behaviors. Now, as you’re making these changes, you can see the reach and the impressions adjusting as you do it.
So I’ll set up an ad. We’ll do it for a, let’s go 20 to 40. Men with degrees or in high school can leave everything else. Let’s go. That’s just all sports. And you can say that the rates has changed to 12 million. And the impressions to 30 now, of course, that depends on the budget. So that’s to be factored in as well.
[37:09]So interests a little bit of a difference between interests and behaviors, interests, a bit more broad and a bit less, actions that someone needs to take to be tagged as interested. If it’s a behavior, then. There’s a, basically a higher bar. So they’ve, they’ve engaged with it a bit more deeply, and it’s been tagged as a behavior.
They can go into marital status and occupation as well. And you come through, put in your creative. So this is the only section that will need to be in Chinese. If you do it, I’m just going to use this square image. this is not an image that you would use to run an ad just to placeholder up for me to go through this. And then you would have your Chinese text.
I will just put in a placeholder here, but you can use translation services. You can use AdChina.io, you can use, anyone who is familiar with the native language do not recommend Google translate. It has issues with the Eastern languages and you don’t want to commit a social or cultural par by having an inaccurate a text on your ads.
So I will just leave it. You can schedule the date and time and have it run during certain hours. Or you can just, leave that on set. That’s fine. And if you click through to save a next, you can just set your budget. It’s submit, and it will give you a summary of everything that we’ve just gone through.
And when you hit confirm, it’ll go through to the channel. And typically that is live within one business day. So I will stop sharing my screen.
[38:54]Once the campaign has been run, you can go in and see the reports so you can see the impressions, the clicks, the total cost, the average click-through right. CPM and the CPC on the particular campaigns. And not only that, you can dive in more detail and look at the locations. So which locations were actually driving the bulk of these conversions.
What was the gender? What was the age? And you can say that for each of the ads in each of the campaigns that you run. So now we’ll go ahead and stop sharing my screen and I’ll bring the slides back up.
So, if you want to access the DSP, the platform that I’ve just shown, you can sign up for free at dsp.adchina.io. It is entirely free of course to join. And so in there you can learn about the different channels. You can check out the marketplace like I showed and see the channel information. You can do a whole bunch of different things, set up official accounts, get validated through the platform, and see the impression and reach estimates to dial in a really good audience for your advertising.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and we’ll connect you with a Chinese marketing expert to show you possibilities of advertising in China using our platform.
Estimated Audience Size
Control Over Campaign Data