Advertising in China: Best Practices & Top Strategies

Paid advertising in China can be a difficult process. With an ever-changing media landscape and innumerable advertising channels, it can be hard to know where to start. But don’t worry – we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll introduce you to the most popular Chinese paid advertising media as well as outline the best practices and top strategies for successful paid advertising campaigns in China. So whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to refine your current campaign, read on for the latest tips and advice.

NB: If you are knowledgeable about advertising in the West then please do take note that there are a ton of differences in practices in China. Plus, you need to consider that the country is in some sort of a digital revolution and the internet is going to be key to your success or failure.

Having said all of that, here are some valuable tips and advice regarding advertising in China. 

What Are the Top Paid Advertising Platforms in China (With Pricing)?

A part of your success and strategy when putting together an advertising campaign is identifying which platforms work best for you. Each platform works a little bit differently and, of course, the expenses will differ too. 

Here are some of the platforms that you can tap to advertise your products and services.

  • Wechat
  • Weibo
  • Baidu
  • Bytedance (douyin)

WeChat Paid Advertising: for big brands

There’s no doubt, that WeChat is China’s most popular app, garnering over a billion users monthly. It’s definitely wise for companies to advertise on it. Additionally, WeChat has a wide range of users so this will give you a chance to really reach your ideal audience effectively.

WeChat-Wechat brand zone - Chanel- Banner-Advertisement-1

There are 3 types of paid advertising campaigns on WeChat that you may set up;

  • WeChat Banner Ads: One way to effectively advertise on WeChat is by using banners. These are like ad banners you see everywhere when scrolling the web. On Wechat they are usually displayed inside or at the end of a WeChat post. Wechat banner ads can drive traffic pretty anywhere you, please.
  • WeChat Moments Ads: They are the most expensive and more suited to well-known companies. WeChat ads are displayed in users’ feeds, typically a higher-budget approach with regards to minimum ad spend but offering the highest exposure levels. You’ll find that there are many formats available for these ads and that they are now interactive, encouraging users to engage with your content.
  • Wechat Kols Marketing: This one is simple, you Collaborate with a WeChat Kols. It can take different forms: a review, a link or banner on the KOL channel, or Kol appearances in one of your WeChat content.
  • Bonus with WeChat Subscription “Ads”: Not paid ads per se but a powerful way to nurture your WeChat followers. To make it short, treat your WeChat follower like you would treat your email list and use WeChat as an email marketing tool.

A WeChat account and WeChat Display (banner & moments) Ads can be set up for $149 with a top-up of at least $799. 

Weibo: the best Chinese social media for paid ads?

Weibo is what is known as Chinese Twitter, and you can bet that it’s one of the largest social media channels in the country. Brands would be wise to include it in their advertising strategy.

paid advertising china weibo destination page ads
Weibo Destination Page Ad

There are four campaign types that you may choose from:

  • Destination Page ads: The first thing that Weibo users see when opening the app is destination page ads. It is a great way to catch their attention by displaying your product on fullscreen with short, entertaining videos (the ad is skippable)
  • Feeds Ads: Feed ads are very common on Weibo and they allow brands to share content with their followers. These paid posts often appear between users’ followed accounts posts and link back to the product or service being advertised.
  • Fan Headline: The most clever way of reaching new customers on Weibo is through fan tunnels. You can use this in order to promote either a specific post or your entire account, which works like a headline appearing at the top of News Feed so that they cannot miss it!
  • Fan Tunnel: A great way to get your message across is by targeting an existing pool of followers on Weibo. This means that not only will they see the post or account but also their friends! The post will appear as “推广” (Promoted), or “热门” (hot) at the top of the feed. Promoted posts are not OTT in China and do not spoil the users’ social experience, it’s not seen as spam.
  • Display Ads: Weibo’s display ads can be found all over the app and on various pages. The size of these advertisements varies by where they’re placed, but each one is optimized for mobile or web viewing alike!

A setup fee for brands at $1499 with the same minimum top-up amount will get them started on the platform that boasts 445 million monthly active users. 

Use Baidu PPC to boost search engine visibility

Baidu is the largest search engine in China and the ideal platform for foreign investors and companies who are looking to reach the Chinese consumer. 

Baidu Ads can be split into 2 categories:

  • Baidu Tuiguang: Baidu Tuigang is a China-based company that offers PPC advertising (with format and services such as ProTheme, Pay for placement (P4P) Baidu TV, and Information Feed Ads). It’s similar to Google Adwords and Bing Ads in many ways. The PPC advertising platform on Baidu Tuigang enables you to advertise your products and services by placing them on search engine results pages as well as any websites of the Baidu Ecosystem.
  • Baidu Brand Zone: This Baidu Brand Zone page is a space dedicated to one company, highlighting all the information about them. It includes links that take you directly into their website or social media pages, and online stores so they can be promoted more easily!

You may set up search advertising or display ads on it. It’s by far the cheapest of the platforms we’ve presented at minimum spending of $299 and a top-up of $950. 

Bytedance: better targetting for better results

Bytedance also owns several popular and user-rich platforms in China. We’re talking about Douyin, which is the original version of TikTok, Xigua Video, Houshan Video, and Toutiao, which is undoubtedly China’s top news app. Thanks, to Bytedance refined and precise targeting algorithm, the group apps are some of the most interesting for paid marketing specialists.

Douyin Paid Agency

Looking at Douyin and Toutiao, there are 3 main types of paid ads:

  • Open Screen ads (brand takeover): These types of advertisements can be seen when the application is opened and they display for three seconds or five seconds, depending on the format (static or Dynamic) – The main advantage of open screen ads is that there aren’t any visual interferences and all focus will remain focused solely upon the displayed ad.
  • Feeds Ads: On Douyin, brands can promote short videos from 5 to 60, which are displayed as native ads in users’ feeds. It is perfectly integrated into the Douyin flow, making these ads less intrusive for users while still giving brands the exposure they are looking for.
  • Stickers Ads: Brands can now create customized stickers for Douyin videos, it is a way to create interaction with users. The app’s users add these witty advertisements into their clips and produce high-quality content with increased engagement rates!

Tencent

Tencent owns WeChat and a ton of other platforms that, as a business, you need to take notice of. They own Tencent Video, a video streaming platform with about 600 million users, YingYongBao China’s largest android platform, Tencent News, and Tencent QQ, China’s largest messaging app with over 2 billion users.

It’s unfathomable for businesses to not advertise on Tencent’s platforms, but expect to spend $5,000 to $7,000 per month. 

Regulations for Paid Advertising in China

After targeting which platforms you’ll advertise on, be sure to check out the many regulations you need to follow to be successful in your campaign. Please take note that censorship is a huge factor affecting all advertisements put up either offline or online in China. 

Take note that:

  • Misleading content is strictly prohibited in China.
  • No superlatives in your advertising materials.
  • You cannot use the Chinese flag.
  • All pop-ups that you utilize for your ads should be closed by users with one click.
  • Social stability should be observed in your ads and social norms cannot be challenged.
  • Online ads in China cannot interrupt the normal usage of the internet when viewed.
  • No tobacco nor prescription ads anywhere, online or offline.
  • There are industries that need to ask for approval from the Chinese government before being allowed to put up advertisements.

There are also industries that have limited platforms that they can advertise on. So, if you’re insensitive or delicate niches, then be sure to check first for compliance. 

For online advertising, please take note that gambling, pornography, any form of obscenity, superstitions, and violence are also not allowed. 

Best Practices for Paid Advertising in China

The first piece of advice that we can give you so you’ll be successful in China is to always make sure to adapt. The taste and purchasing habits of Chinese consumers are always changing so it’s important to change with them. Always be ahead of the game and you’ll never lose business opportunities.

Chinese consumers used to love foreign brands, but all of a sudden, they may prefer local brands. So, be wary of such significant changes in the taste of the public.

Also, utilizing China’s cross-border e-commerce looks to be a great way to expand your brand awareness. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Virtual Reality is now gaining ground so be sure to invest time in exploring that option, too.

Search engine advertising is also a must and you should always utilize Chinese apps to your advantage. 

Advertising in China: a rapid overview

It’s not a secret that China is currently one of the largest markets in the world. What’s amazing about its growth is that it doesn’t look like it’s reached its full potential just yet. The country’s economy just keeps on growing, and one of the largest sectors that are pulling it up is its retail industry, with a huge part of it done online.

There’s a huge difference in what companies or retailers can do and should do in terms of paid advertising in the country and so it’s important to know what’s in and what’s out before strategizing a campaign.

China’s Advertsing Market is Massive and … (mostly) Digital

As mentioned, the Chinese market is still growing and constantly evolving. With that notion, we need to adapt in order to grow with it. For those who are still on the outside looking in, you’re going to have to put in the work to penetrate the industry.

China is second to only the United States in the advertising market and, in 2021, their ad spending grew 8.5% and is still expected to grow by 10.4% this year.

Traditional printing, as well as broadcasting channels, have taken a downturn but online as well as outdoor advertising has taken center stage and a large chunk of the spending. As expected, this is all because everyone has access to the internet, with a huge part of its population utilizing their mobile devices and the internet for almost everything that they need, from paying for a taxi ride to their groceries. 

Chinese Consumers & their relation to Paid advertisement

Let’s talk a little bit about who you will be advertising to, the Chinese consumers. It’s most specifically the Chinese middle class that has changed or is still constantly changing their buying habits. This demographic alone drives new opportunities and fuels the market.

Most Chinese companies have had to reinvent how they do business in the pandemic era, leading to AR apps and virtual malls popping up. That’s why the usage of social media, as well as online advertising in China, has had a sudden yet expected rise over the past couple of years. 

As we all know, Chinese people are huge on social media, and while the standard behavior is for people to skip ads, the Chinese consumer will watch the ads running when opening Weibo. 

Paid Advertising in China: Wrapping Up

Navigating the do’s and don’ts and the pitfalls of advertising in China can be a bit challenging if not restricting. But, if you play your cards right, you may just thrive in China’s ecosystem and reap the benefits of success sooner rather than later.

It’s a high-risk, high-reward industry, so it will be worth it. For foreign investors and businesses looking to adopt, this is the best thing that you can do for your organization.

If you need guidance or an agency to help you find success in China’s massive industry, don’t hesitate to contact us now!

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