Last Updated on May 26, 2023
Douyin in China is arguably the Chinese tech sector’s biggest success story of the last five years. The short video app has not only won the hearts and minds of its 600 million monthly active Chinese users but has also spawned one of the fastest-growing apps internationally, TikTok, which now boasts more than one billion users worldwide.
For brands looking to grow their footprint in China, Douyin advertising provides fertile terrain. In our guide, following the format of our WeChat ads guide, we will explore what Douyin ads look like, how much they cost, and the platform’s demographics.
SDG, a Douyin marketing agency, will provide a practical guide on how to get started and explore best practices for Douyin advertising campaigns in China.
There are several reasons why businesses should consider using Douyin in China:
- High Engagement
Douyin’s users are highly engaged, spending an average of 52 minutes per day on the app, with over 80% of users accessing Douyin multiple times a day. This presents a unique opportunity for local and foreign businesses to connect with potential customers on a platform where they are already highly active.
- E-commerce Integration
Douyin’s e-commerce integration provides a seamless shopping experience for users, allowing businesses to sell their products directly to consumers without redirecting them to a third-party website. This can increase conversion rates and streamline the purchasing process for users.
- Advertising Options
Douyin offers a variety of advertising options, including in-feed ads, brand takeovers, and hashtag challenges, to promote products and services to users. These advertising options can be highly targeted based on user demographics, interests, and behavior, ensuring that businesses reach their intended audience.
- Influencer Marketing
Douyin influencers are highly effective in promoting products and services, as they have built a loyal following and can leverage their influence to drive sales. This presents an opportunity for businesses to partner with influencers and promote their products to their followers.
Douyin presents a unique opportunity for businesses looking to expand their reach and connect with potential customers in China. With its massive user base, high engagement, e-commerce integration, advertising options, and influencer marketing capabilities, Douyin can be an effective platform for businesses to promote their products and services in China.
What do Douyin ads look like?
Douyin ads are short video ads that seamlessly integrate into the platform’s user experience. With a variety of formats to choose from, including in-feed ads, brand takeover ads, hashtag challenges, and branded lenses, brands can engage with users and promote their products or services in unique ways.
Here an exhaustive list of the different types of Ads provided by Douyin:
- In-Feed Ads
In-feed ads are an effective way to promote products and services to Douyin’s massive user base. These short videos appear in a user’s Douyin feed, and brands can target these ads based on various criteria, such as user demographics, interests, and behavior. In-feed ads can be up to 60 seconds long, and brands can use them to showcase their products or services in an engaging way. The ads can also include a call-to-action (CTA) button, such as “Learn More” or “Shop Now,” that redirects users to the brand’s website or Douyin e-store.
- Brand Takeover
Brand takeover ads appear as soon as a user opens the Douyin app, ensuring maximum visibility. These ads can be images, GIFs, or short videos and can be highly effective in creating brand awareness. Brands can also use brand takeover ads to launch new products or promote limited-time offers. Douyin allows only one brand to take over the app per day, ensuring that the ad receives maximum attention.
- Top View
Top view ads are similar to brand takeover ads but appear at the top of the user’s screen when they open the app. The video plays automatically without sound, and brands can use this ad format to showcase their products or services in a visually engaging way. The ad can be up to 60 seconds long and can include a CTA button that redirects users to the brand’s website or Douyin e-store.
- Hashtag Challenge
Hashtag challenges are highly engaging ad formats that encourage user-generated content. Brands sponsor a hashtag challenge that encourages users to create content around a particular theme or challenge. The challenge can include a CTA button that redirects users to the brand’s website or Douyin e-store, and users can also share their content on other Chinese social media platforms, increasing brand awareness.
- Branded Effects
Branded effects are custom AR effects that brands can create and that users can use in their videos. These effects can include filters, stickers, and other visual elements that align with the brand’s image and values. Branded effects can increase user engagement and create brand awareness, and users can also share their videos on other Chinese social media platforms, further promoting the brand.
- Customized Creative
Customized creatives allow brands to work with Douyin to create ad creatives that suit their specific needs and goals. Brands can choose from various ad formats, such as in-feed ads, brand takeover, and other ad formats, and Douyin can provide insights and recommendations to optimize the ad’s performance. Customized creatives can also include CTA buttons that redirect users to the brand’s website or Douyin e-store, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
- Douyin Playable Ads
Douyin Playable Ads are an innovative ad format that simulates a mini-game, encouraging user engagement and interaction with the brand. Brands can create a playable ad that aligns with their products or services, and users can play the game to win rewards or discounts. This ad format can increase brand awareness and generate leads or sales for the brand.
- Music Ads
One of the keys to the Douyin algorithm – the infamous arbiter of what content is shown to the masses – is featuring on-trend music. Rolling Stone have an interesting feature explaining how this music doesn’t need to be, and usually isn’t, from a renowned artist. It simply has to be catchy and engaging enough for users to want to use it over and over again. Brands are now leveraging this as a form of Douyin advertising, by buying up music libraries and generating music content of their own. Users will be exposed to the brand through named libraries, and brand shout-outs within lyrics.
- Sticker Ads
Users often add digital stickers to their videos: images that are either static, animated, or even interactive. Brands are capitalizing on this by harnessing the power of their graphic design teams, or agencies, to create interesting, funny, brand-specific sets of stickers that users can add to their libraries. Brands can encourage the use of their stickers through campaigns, giving rewards or spotlighting certain UGC that uses them in creative ways.
Douyin stickers. Source: Kunming.cn
What does Douyin advertising cost?
Getting down to brass tacks, the cost of advertising on Douyin is comparable to advertising on other platforms such as WeChat, Baidu and Weibo. Full setup costs around $250, and can be as low as 600RMB if done independently, but a down payment of around $750 is also necessary. For comparison, using rough figures, Baidu PPC setup is $300 with a down payment of around $1,000, Weibo is $300 with a $1,500 down payment and WeChat is $149 with $800 down payment.
Douyin feed ads are charged on a Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per Mille (CPM) basis. CPC starts at 0.2RMB, and CPM starts at 4RMB. Splash ads are charged using Cost Per Thousand (CPT) impressions, at a rate of 30-60RMB CPT, but must be paid in bulk, thereby incurring a cost of 850,000RMB or more per day. Douyin have also introduced a Cost Per Conversion rate, which is negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
Each of these rates is variable based on a bidding process. Popular target audiences, selected for by age, location, gender and more, will be priced higher. For sticker advertising, brands are asked to pay 30,000RMB for 7 days of promotion. Music ads are paid for indirectly, as libraries are uploaded for free, so the cost comes out of rights to and/or production of the music.
It’s worth noting that these costs are subject to change, as ad space in China is growing in cost significantly.
Who uses Douyin?
While the absolute costs are fairly clear, an understanding of the Douyin demographics is necessary when predicting ROI. Unlike its international companion TikTok, which is dominated by Gen-Z, Douyin is enjoyed across a broad range of ages, with more than 25% of users above 36 years old. The male-female ratio is 55:45, while roughly 46% of users come from lower-tier cities.
Douyin users by age, as of October 2021. Source: Statista
The app is highly popular among young adults, with the majority of users between the ages of 16 and 35. In particular, users aged between 18 and 24 make up a significant portion of Douyin’s user base. However, the app is also gaining popularity among older age groups, with an increasing number of users aged 35 and above joining the platform.
Douyin is a highly popular app across different regions in China, and its user base is spread widely across the country. According to QuestMobile, the app’s highest penetration rate is in China’s tier-3 cities and below, with users from these areas accounting for around 70% of the total user base. However, the platform’s popularity is also growing in tier-1 and tier-2 cities, with an increasing number of users from these regions joining the app.
Interest and Behavior
Douyin users are highly active on the platform, with the average user spending over 60 minutes per day on the app. The platform’s content is highly diverse, ranging from entertainment, humor, beauty, and lifestyle to educational and informative content. Users can also interact with content by liking, sharing, and commenting on videos, increasing user engagement on the platform.
In terms of behavior, Douyin users are highly responsive to advertising content, with many users using the app to discover new products and services. The app’s algorithm can also recommend content to users based on their interests and behavior, increasing the likelihood of users discovering and engaging with brands’ advertising content.
Chinese Influencers, also known as KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), are highly popular on Douyin and play a crucial role in shaping user behavior and opinions. These influencers have a large following on the app and social media and can help brands reach a highly engaged audience. Douyin also provides various tools for brands to collaborate with influencers, such as the “Douyin Creator Fund,” which provides financial support to content creators on the platform.
Step-by-step Douyin paid advertising
Opening an account
- Douyin operates a system of ‘Enterprise Accounts’, which are officially registered, and are identifiable by a blue V icon on their profile known as the ‘企业蓝v’.
Blue V and Enterprise Account. Source: Zhihu.com, 小抖老师
- Before the following steps, please note that only Chinese companies, or companies with China-registered entities, are eligible for Douyin paid advertising accounts.
- Go to renzheng.douyin.com and hit the main button, ‘立即认证’, and either scan with the Douyin app, or hit ‘进入PC端认证流程’ and provide a Chinese phone number.
- Hit the 开启认证 button to start. Here you will be presented a form asking for the following information: Username, business license number, country of origin, business category, business license scan, additional qualifications, company name, account operator name, operator contact number, email and finance contact.
- The additional qualification section is for companies in industries like F&B, education and insurance that require additional permits to operate legally in their respective jurisdiction.
- After submitting all the information, go through to the authentication page, where you will need to provide identity information including ID or passport scans, and pay a 600RMB fee. The reviewal of the materials is not done by Douyin directly, but rather outsourced to partner companies. You will be notified which company is handling your application, and how to contact them if needed.
- The authentication is completed within a few working days, and as long as the correct information is submitted, there should be no problem. There is a 98% pass rate.
Once your Enterprise Account is open, you will be given access to a full set of features, including a merchant’s account and flagship store capabilities. You can also display your website address and phone number on your account, unlike general users. Crucially, you are granted access to the Douyin ad platforms, OceanEngine and Dou+.
Start organising Douyin ads in the back end
Douyin provides two paid ad delivery platforms, Dou+ and OceanEngine, both of which can be logged in to using an Enterprise Account, and both of which are capable of running and reporting on the different types of Douyin ad. These are the platforms that Douyin advertising agencies will operate through. There are a few key differences between the two platforms, which are:
- Purpose. OceanEngine is more for e-commerce marketing campaigns, and divides its operations into pushing online stores, doing product flash-promotions, and promoting specialty products. Dou+, on the contrary, is designed to increase exposure and interaction with short videos or livestreams, with content rather than commerce.
- Guiding philosophy. OceanEngine is angled towards ‘strong marketing and weak content’, while Dou+ follows a ‘strong content, weak marketing’ approach.
- Bidding Operation. OceanEngine supports manual bidding. Operators can adjust whether they want to pay more to reach users faster or more accurately, or less to keep costs low. Meanwhile, on Dou+, operators will set results targets, and bidding will be conducted by the system automatically.
- Effects. OceanEngine will run ads in places where the chances of direct sales are highest, according to specific audience and behaviour targets. Meanwhile, Dou+ will take a content-forward approach, placing ads where content engagement is most likely, thereby increasing the exposure of the brand or campaign overall.
OceanEngine is a comprehensive ads platform that allows businesses to create and run advertising campaigns on Douyin. The platform offers a range of ad formats, targeting options, and optimization features to help businesses maximize their ad performance and reach their advertising goals.
Using OceanEngine, businesses can create different types of ads, including in-feed ads, brand takeovers, and hashtag challenges. In-feed ads appear as short videos in users’ feeds, while brand takeovers allow businesses to display their ads as soon as users open the app. Hashtag challenges, on the other hand, encourage users to participate in a brand’s challenge by creating and sharing their own videos using a specific hashtag. OceanEngine also offers a range of targeting options, such as location, age, gender, interests, and behaviors. This allows businesses to target their ads to specific audiences and improve their ad relevance and engagement. Additionally, the platform offers optimization features, such as automatic bidding and ad scheduling, to help businesses improve their ad performance and cost-effectiveness.
Overall, OceanEngine is a powerful ads platform that allows businesses to create and run effective advertising campaigns on Douyin. With its range of ad formats, targeting options, and optimization features, businesses can leverage the platform to reach their target audience, increase their brand awareness, and drive their sales and conversions.
Douyin also offers an ads platform called Dou+. Dou+ is a more advanced and comprehensive ads platform designed for larger businesses and advertisers who require more sophisticated advertising capabilities. Dou+ offers a wide range of advanced features that allow businesses to create highly targeted and engaging advertising campaigns on Douyin. Some of the key features of Dou+ include:
- Audience Insights
Dou+ offers advanced audience insights that allow businesses to better understand their target audience and create more targeted advertising campaigns. With this feature, businesses can access data on users’ demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.
- Custom Audiences
Dou+ allows businesses to create custom audiences based on their own customer data. This means that businesses can target their ads to users who have previously interacted with their brand or products, such as website visitors or email subscribers.
- Programmatic Advertising
Dou+ offers programmatic advertising capabilities, which allows businesses to automate their ad buying and optimize their campaigns in real-time. This feature helps businesses save time and improve their ad performance and cost-effectiveness.
- Brand Safety
Dou+ offers advanced brand safety features that ensure that businesses’ ads are displayed in safe and appropriate contexts. This helps businesses avoid any negative association with inappropriate content or controversial topics.
- Creative Tools
Dou+ offers a range of creative tools that allow businesses to create highly engaging and interactive ads on Douyin. These tools include special effects, filters, and interactive features that allow businesses to create unique and memorable ad experiences.
Overall, Dou+ is a powerful and advanced ads platform that offers businesses a range of advanced features and capabilities for creating highly targeted and engaging advertising campaigns on Douyin. While Dou+ is primarily designed for larger businesses and advertisers, it offers a range of powerful features that can help businesses of all sizes to achieve their advertising goals on the platform.
Douyin Ads Best Practices
While paying for ads is a sure-fire way to get seen by users, there are some factors that need to be taken into account when designing them for maximum chances of conversion.
- Entertaining content. Douyin is, at its heart, an entertainment platform. For feed ads especially, videos that teach users about something, that display some sort of extraordinary experience, or that are funny, are most likely to succeed. For sticker ads, it’s a good idea either to appeal to humour or high aesthetics. Check out Pizza Hut’s sticker in the image below as a great example.
- Challenges. Setting a challenge, with a format, is a great way to go viral. Michael Kors set a challenge to emulate their video style, leading to the creation of 30,000+ user-generated videos.
- Create often. Douyin rewards those accounts who are especially active. It is hard to go viral, meaning putting a lot of time and money into one ad might yield little results. It is notoriously hard to predict what will go viral, so the best strategy is to generate frequent new content.
- Be smart with KOLs. Unlike some other platforms, the presence of a well-known KOL does not guarantee that an ad will see high levels of engagement. Here, the best idea is to find KOLs that are most aligned with the campaign theme, the brand, or the product, and engage in co-creation.
- Explore different paid advertising options. The old adage about not putting all one’s eggs in one basket could not be truer on Douyin. Each type of ad will garner different results, and there’s no way of knowing how they will turn out unless tested. The flexibility of the ad platform allows for A/B testing and switching up target audiences on the fly.
Want To Know More?
While the information provided in this article can serve as a starting point for foreign businesses looking to enter the world of Douyin paid ads, it is important to note that the platform can be complex and fairly unique. This is where working with a Douyin marketing agency in China such as Sekkei Digital Group can be incredibly valuable.
With years of experience in the Chinese digital marketing landscape, Sekkei Digital Group is well-versed in the intricacies of Douyin advertising. Our team can assist foreign businesses with every step of their Douyin marketing campaign, from registration and account setup, to ad delivery and optimization, to ongoing maintenance and reporting. Our agency can also provide guidance on best practices for Douyin advertising, including creative strategy, targeting options, and ad formats. We stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in Douyin advertising and can provide valuable insights to help foreign businesses navigate this unique platform.
In summary, while Douyin advertising can seem daunting at first, working with a specialized agency such as Sekkei Digital Group can simplify the process and help ensure the success of your Douyin marketing campaign. Feel free to get in touch with us to learn more about our services and how we can help your business reach Chinese consumers on Douyin.
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