Advertising in China: Best Strategies To Try This 2024

Last Updated on June 11, 2024

China’s e-commerce landscape is rapidly evolving, now standing as one of the world’s largest markets. This growth has made digital advertising an essential tool to reach modern Chinese consumers.  With the growing middle class and increasing purchasing power, the country’s digital ad spending is expected to rise significantly.

When promoting your business to the Chinese market, there are three critical factors to remember: the digital landscape is fragmented, China is dominated by mobile, and Chinese consumers change their preferences quickly.

How your brand appears and communicates its message to your target market goes far beyond its content. The platform you use for your campaign can bridge the gap between the Chinese audience and your brand.

Here are some insights you need to know if you want to launch a successful advertising campaign in China.


How does advertising work in the Chinese Market?

Although China’s advertising industry ranks the second largest worldwide, it’s crucial to determine what’s feasible and effective to launch in terms of local campaigns. Remember that the Chinese market is notably dynamic, underscoring the importance of thorough research before venturing to ensure the best ROI.


Here are the elements of successful advertising campaigns in Mainland China that foreign companies should note:


  • Adherence to China’s digital advertising laws
  • Tight grasp of local CPC/CPM metrics
  • Localized content specific to China
  • Mobile-friendly ad design and format
  • Utilization of big data and analytics


Today’s modern shoppers are more digitally engaged than before. In China, 884 million Chinese consumers are purchasing online. This growth has led many businesses to exert more effort into making their offerings more visible online.

Based on the data from Statista, you can see that the use of traditional advertising methods has decreased since 2017. As of 2024, 82% of overall advertising in China is dominated by online ads through search engines, popular social media platforms, and other digital channels. With the growing number of consumers online, industry experts expect it to grow to 90% by 2027.


Ad spending by media in China

Source: Ad Spend Rate in China’s Advertising Market (Statista)


4 Chinese Advertising Strategies For Foreign Brands

1.   Search Engine Advertising In China


Advertising China Baidu, Haosou, WeChat search


If there’s one thing international businesses must know about Chinese consumers, it’s the reality that they’re savvy online shoppers who conduct research before purchasing a product.

This consumer behavior presents an opportunity for foreign companies to launch search engine ads and reach more consumers within the China market. Here are some options advertisers can consider:


●     Baidu Advertising

Like in the West, SEM and SEO marketing are two of the most effective ways to bring conversions and new customers. When it comes to these strategies, Baidu is the most preferred platform because of its massive user base.

If you want to enter the Chinese business scene through SEM strategies, you should focus on utilizing Baidu Pay-Per-Click (PPC) features.


Baidu search advertising for Moxa

Example of SDG’s Baidu Ad Campaign for Moxa


While search engine optimization can create organic traffic for brands, implementing search ads on Baidu helps your website landing pages get on top of SERP for a specific keyword related to your niche.

Besides texts, these Baidu PPC ads often include external links and other relevant details to user queries.

Foreign businesses can utilize a wide range of formats for Baidu advertisements. They can choose from in-feed ads and digital banner advertising to short videos and maps.

An advertiser can also access the Baidu brand zone using an official service account. Through this format, you can secure top ad placements on Baidu’s search result page. It can help your brand showcase products and services to a higher quality and targeted audience.


Advertising in China Baidu ads formats


Baidu Ads remains the largest SEM market share with a user-friendly interface like Google Ads. However, other search engines might be more cost-effective for advertising your brand and reaching a targeted audience.


●     Haosou

Haosou is backed by Qihoo 360, one of China’s largest internet companies. It offers various services, including news, websites, images, videos, Q&A, images, music and other services.


Advertising in China Haosou search engine


With mobile advertising in mind, it was revamped and now serves as a cheaper alternative for running promotional campaigns in China. Haosou is often used for the workplace due to its security features and can be an ideal channel for B2B marketing.


2.   Social Media Advertising in China


Advertising in China social media


Recent statistics show that brands in China dedicate over 13.8% of their online advertising budget to social media marketing. Considering the massive user base of 1.03 billion people actively using these platforms, it makes perfect sense for marketers to focus their advertising efforts here.


●     WeChat Ads

As previously mentioned, online advertising on WeChat offers diverse formats that cater to different marketing objectives and target audiences. Brands can create landing pages on these advertisement channels to take advantage of the platform’s 1.3 billion monthly active users.


Advertising in China WeChat ads


One of this platform’s primary social media advertising formats is WeChat Moments Ads, which resemble native updates from friends but include a sponsored button in the corner.

These ads can take various forms, including image & text ads, video ads, basic card ads, card ads with options, and interactive ads.

All official accounts on WeChat, including both Subscription and Service accounts, can use these ad formats to target users. The targeting options can be based on various criteria such as location, age, gender, interests, device type, and phone network.

Advertisements on WeChat can also include Public account ads in articles with formats like images, videos, banners, and in-text ads.

Advertisers can also entice consumers within the platform by launching mini-programs. They provide unique engagement opportunities through rewarded ads, banner ads, and pop-ups.


●     Little Red Book Ads

Often dubbed the “Chinese Instagram,” Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) is a lifestyle app initially dedicated to social media users interested in beauty and fashion. Today, the app stands as an all-in-one go-to source for every consumer’s needs.

And while the platform thrives on user-generated content, it also supports paid advertising options for the Chinese market. However, unlike other apps, brands can only choose from limited ad formats.


Advertising in China Little Red Book ads


For example, Xiaonghongshu’s pop-up advertisement formats appear when users open the app. Meanwhile, integrated ads blend along with the organic content within the platform.


●     Douyin Ads

For brands keen on expanding their digital footprint in the Chinese market, taking advantage of Douyin’s 752 million daily active users is a great strategy to begin with. The platform also provides a full range of highly targeted advertising options, from brand takeovers to in-feed and playable ads.


Advertising in China Douyin ads


Foreign advertisers can choose between two paid ad delivery platforms integrated within Douyin, Dou+ and OceanEngine. Both options can help you run ads and provide different campaign analysis.

The only difference is that OceanEngine is more geared towards e-commerce, while Dou+ is specifically designed for videos and livestreams.


●     Mafengwo

Mafengwo is the most influential travel social platform in China. It has over 1 million user-generated travel guides and favors data from user-generated content, including travel guides and blogs.


Advertising in China Mafengwo


It has become the go-to platform for anything travel-related, significantly impacting decision-making among Chinese travellers. It’s an attractive platform for marketing your brand if you want to do a travel or tourism-related digital advertising campaign.


●     Weibo

Sina Weibo stands as a powerful platform for the Chinese advertising industry due to its extensive user base and ability to effectively target a brand’s followers and non-followers.

The diverse ad formats on Weibo cater to different marketing objectives, ensuring advertisers have the flexibility to craft campaigns that resonate effectively with their desired audience in China.


Advertising in China Weibo ads


Fan Tunnels, for instance, is a Weibo digital advertising tool that enables brands to promote posts or accounts to non-followers. It provides a cost-effective method for increasing brand visibility.


3.   Programmatic Advertising in China


Advertising in China BAT Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent


The programmatic advertising landscape in China has seen gains in recent years. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) are playing a role in China similar to the one that Facebook and Google play in America.

Each tech giant has formed its own closed ecosystem, taking around 90% of the programmatic advertising market share. Therefore, ad campaigns cannot be fully optimized due to each platform’s sharing restrictions.

This advertising type provides advanced targeting and some of the most desirable ad placements for foreign brands.


●     Baiyi Advertisements

This platform can enable your brand to run campaigns and be exposed to consumers through PC, Mobile and Television gateways. Your brand can also take advantage of its extensive network of 600,000 third-party websites and software providers partnered with Baidu.

Besides that, it allows you to target users based on interests, keywords, device type, etc. Baiyi is an excellent choice for targeting users on desktops.


Advertising in China Baiyi ads

Example of Baiyi ads on Baidu Tieba


●     Tencent Ads

Tencent ads cover many platforms and might be China’s most popular ad network. It can easily place ads, gather data on WeChat, QQ, Tencent News and Tencent Video, and offer deep insights into customers’ personalized demands.


Advertising in China Tencent videos, Tencent news and QQ


These are some of the most popular social media networking apps, making Tencent ads a very attractive opportunity for a foreign brand to market their products and services.


●     Alimama

Alimama focuses a lot on e-commerce, but it’s widely known for being a monetization platform. It accommodates all marketing needs on Alibaba products demanded by brands and retailers.

For example, it enables brands to place advertisements at the top of Taobao or T-mall searches. It also supports ad placements on various apps like Weibo, Netease and IQiYi. Marketers can consider this platform if Alibaba-owned apps are part of their advertising strategy.


Advertising in China alimama ads

Example of ads at the top of search results on Taobao


4.   Livestream Advertising in China

As live-streaming turned into a standard medium for Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) to connect with their followers, it also became apparent that this marketing tool could help launch paid advertising campaigns more effectively.

As you know, KOLs hold an influence over the purchasing decisions of many Chinese consumers. Thanks to this, collaborating with these influencers using live-streaming channels will allow you to tap into their massive fan bases and generate real-time engagement between you and your brand’s potential audience.


Advertising in China livestreaming

Livestreaming advertising on Tmall, Douyin and Weibo


Through the strategic integration of live-streaming and KOL partnerships, international brands can effectively captivate their target demographic, heighten their brand visibility, and solidify a lasting presence within the fiercely competitive Chinese advertising market.


How much does advertising cost in China?

Online advertising costs in China vary across different platforms, each catering to distinct business needs and budgets. For example, Baidu’s PPC advertising (Pay-Per-Click) has a required top-up cost of USD 1,000.

Weibo also operates with the same PPC format, but the platform’s display advertisements require between $6 to $8 per CPM. Meanwhile, the ad spending range of banner adverts in WeChat ranges from $22 to $26 per CPM.

The advertising costs across various platforms depend on the formats they offer. Businesses must assess their specific needs, target audience, and budget constraints when choosing the most suitable advertising platform in China.



What are the advertising restrictions in China?

Unlike the rest of the world, the Chinese internet landscape is strictly mandated by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Advertising Law, particularly on specific product categories.

Foreign companies must be mindful of these censorships, especially when creating content for advertisement campaigns. If not, advertisers may face penalties or have their websites and content restricted within the local digital landscape.


These advertising regulations cover specific promotions on product categories like:


  • Medications
  • Drugs
  • Medical Tools
  • Pesticides
  • Veterinary Medications
  • Health-related Food Products
  • Formula Food for Specialized Medical Purposes
  • Other advertising media covered by relevant laws and administrative regulations


If you’re unsure how to navigate these regulations for your advertising campaigns, seeking assistance from highly experienced digital marketing agencies can easily solve your dilemma.


Your Digital Advertising Partner In China!

The facets of Chinese digital advertising are much more vast and interconnected than simply posting an ad on a platform. But you shouldn’t be deterred from exploring different channels and platforms as long as you understand each.


You may also want to read:
Ads laws in China


SDG’s experienced team is here to guide you through every twist and turn, unlocking your brand’s full potential and ensuring resounding success in this dynamic landscape.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


We offer comprehensive services to empower your advertising strategies in China. From crafting compelling ad campaigns to harnessing the power of search engine platforms and social media channels, we provide the digital solutions you need to thrive. Contact us today to learn more!


contact us SDG



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