How Does Youku Advertising Work? [Account Types and Ad Formats]

A typical Chinese internet user watches videos for almost two hours a day. With over 97% of the country consuming this type of media, it’s a no-brainer that online video platforms are indispensable tools for brand advertising in China.

For foreign companies seeking practical advertising options beyond TV commercials, Youku presents an opportunity to reach local Chinese audiences who are inclined to watch professionally produced videos.

In this post, we’ll explore how Youku advertising works and the best strategies to consider when launching paid branded content on the platform.


What is Youku Used For?

Youku is one of the most popular video streaming channels in China. Due to YouTube’s inaccessibility in the Chinese market, this video platform was dubbed “Chinese YouTube” because of its massive library of user-generated content.

However, unlike YouTube, Youku eventually shifted its focus to professionally produced videos. Today, this platform is the main video hosting service of over 1500 content creators.


Youku Website Homepage

Youku Website Homepage


Beyond TV shows, its library includes a diverse mix of engaging content. Once subscribed, Chinese users can watch music videos, movies, educational materials, live streams, and light entertainment hosted by Youku.

Among the biggest online video companies in China, this platform placed second in terms of the number of monthly unique visitors. Bested only by Tencent Video, records show that Youku catered to over 442 million users in November of 2023.

Beyond consuming content, Youku is known as a breeding ground for creativity. It allows individual content creators and production companies to upload their work. This inclusivity has created an extensive and active creator community that utilizes the platform to share their talents, tell unique stories, and engage with Chinese viewers.


Who is the target audience of Youku?

Youku caters to various demographics, mainly because it now belongs to the Alibaba Group. Historically, the platform has a larger male user base (67.73%), though it also maintains a significant female viewership (32.27%).

This balanced gender distribution indicates digital marketing and advertising on Youku can be tailored to appeal to both genders.

Looking at the Youku audience demographic, most of its users fall under the age bracket of 18 to 44 years old. It has a particular concentration in the 25 to 44 age segments. These Chinese consumers represent a tech-savvy, young, and middle-aged audience likely to engage with various content, from entertainment to educational materials.


Youku's Chinese audience profile


What are the different types of Youku Ads?

●     Top Banner Ads

When you advertise on Youku Tudou, you can choose top banner ads to get the immediate attention of the platform users. True to its name, these banner ads often appear at the beginning of the page or the right panel’s top section.

These Youku ads operate with a high visibility and impression rate. Because of that, these options are more expensive than other banner ads.


●     Pre-Roll Ads

Like YouTube, Youku is selling ads that play before the actual video content. These pre-roll video promotions are unskippable and last up to 15 seconds, ensuring that they completely capture the audience’s interest.

Pre-roll options cost more than other forms of video ads on Youku primarily due to their visibility and high demand among brands.


Youku Pre-Roll Ads


●     Mid-Roll and Post-Roll Ads

A post-roll ad is shown to viewers after a video concluded. These ads generally have a lower price tag than pre-roll ads. On the other hand, mid-roll advertising options resemble traditional TV commercials in their interruption of video content. Like post-roll ads, they can also be skipped.


Post-Roll ads Youku


●     Paused Ads

These ads appear each time a viewer pauses a video and remains on the page until playback continues. Although typically static, their effectiveness shouldn’t be underestimated.

Every pause-and-play action offers repeated exposure to the same ad for viewers, significantly boosting the chances of leaving a lasting impression on an individual user.

This repeated visibility enhances the ad’s impact, making it a strategic choice for marketers aiming to increase engagement with their target audience on Youku.


Youku Paused Ads


●     Bottom Banner Ads

These bottom banners are among the most affordable ad formats you’ll encounter when advertising on Youku. Users can find this ad at the bottom of the web page, so it often does not attract as much traffic as the other paid promotional formats.


Different Account Types in Youku

●     Standard Account

This account is the entry point when you register on Youku. It’s free to create and offers immediate access to the platform’s video content library. Besides entering your phone number, you can register on the platform through social login options like WeChat and Weibo.

Standard account holders can upload their content, subject to Youku’s guidelines, and interact with the platform through likes, comments, and shares. However, they may encounter ads while viewing and face restrictions on premium content reserved for VIP members.


●     VIP Account

VIP accounts hold the same user benefits as the Standard option, but they have a reduced number of ads and, in some cases, provide an ad-free viewing experience.

Subscribed members under this account type also enjoy exclusive access to premium content, early releases, and high-definition streaming options.


●     Partner Account

The Partner Account is tailored for content creators, brands, and media companies looking to expand their reach and engagement on the Youku platform.

It offers advanced tools for uploading and managing content, detailed analytics to gauge viewer engagement and performance, and the possibility of monetization through advertising revenue sharing.

These accounts also benefit from increased visibility on the platform, with Youku promoting their content through various channels (e.g., Alibaba Ecosystem).


Youku membership example


How much does it cost to advertise on Youku?

Like other social media platforms, ads on Youku vary according to the brand’s chosen format, duration, placements, and industry.

Typically, advertising on Youku costs ¥0.3 to ¥140 or more. The platform’s system often measures these ads in Cost Per Thousand impressions (CPM).

For instance, pre-roll ads, which are 15-second advertisements shown before the start of a video, have their specific rates per thousand views. Similarly, banner ads, which are displayed for a total of 24 hours, are priced on a per-day basis.

The positioning of banner ads on the website also influences their cost. Advertisements placed prominently at the top of a page are typically priced higher than those positioned lower down.

The size of the ad plays a crucial role in determining its price. Understandably, a larger, more eye-catching banner ad costs more than a simpler, smaller text ad.


5 Online Advertising Strategies To Promote Your Brand on Youku

1.   Participate in events and campaigns hosted by Youku

Youku actively organizes various special events, marketing campaigns, and contests. For a brand, it’s a chance to captivate the audience and put a spotlight on its offerings.

Incorporating suitable Youku campaigns into your content strategy not only stirs a positive brand image but can also significantly enhance viewer engagement.

For example, if you’re introducing a game in China, you can sponsor an e-sports event on the platform or create video content and ad campaigns directed to content creators and viewers on in-app gaming events to create more interest in your upcoming launch.


Youku’s Section for E-Sports Events and Related Video Content

Youku’s Section for E-Sports Events and Related Video Content


2.   Localize your content to attract Chinese internet users

Regardless of the advertising options you choose, the most effective method to resonate with a regular Chinese audience is through content localization. Simply translating your content into Mandarin isn’t enough.

It’s about respecting and reflecting the cultural norms, values, and consumer behaviors unique to China. It also means crafting content that’s not just linguistically correct but culturally and contextually attuned to the Chinese audience.

When releasing brand content on Youku, ensure that your messaging aligns with local trends and popular culture. Leveraging user-generated content can also enhance its relevance and appeal.


Vogue’s Youku Homepage

Vogue’s Youku Homepage


3.   Work with KOLs for a broader audience reach

Placing ads on local streaming service platforms meant quickly snatching the audience’s attention the moment they lay eyes on your campaign. What better way to do this than by collaborating with widely known KOLs and industry experts?

Influencers hold massive followings and can sway public opinion, making them ideal partners for promoting and endorsing products or services.

By forging partnerships with KOLs who align with your brand’s image and messaging, you can gain access to an already engaged and loyal audience. This marketing strategy can widen brand exposure and enhance reputation within the market.


Example of Gaming KOL with a massive following on Youku

Example of Gaming KOL with a massive following on Youku


Collaborative content creation with these influencers not only yields content that is likely to be shared by other users but also ensures that it strikes a chord with the target demographic.

You must carefully select KOLs whose values and public persona mirror your brand. This process will ensure that any collaboration is genuine and influential without risking your business reputation.


4.   Launching Cross-Platform Promotions

Integrating other social media platforms into your Youku advertising strategy is a great way to enhance brand visibility. Sharing or advertising your content on apps like Weibo and WeChat extends your brand’s visibility beyond its initial platform.

Besides that, embracing cross-promotion tactics with other leading video-sharing platforms in China, including Tencent Video and iQiyi, can broaden your reach and attract a varied audience outside your usual target market.


5.   Utilize Youku’s Viewing Analytics to improve strategy

Viewing Analytics on Youku offers extensive tools designed for brands to understand their audience deeply. These tools can provide valuable insights into viewer behaviors, including demographics, geographical locations, and consumer preferences.

On Youku, companies can monitor their campaign performance to make data-driven decisions and optimize their marketing strategies. This can also lead to more personalized and effective advertising efforts, ultimately driving better engagement and conversion rates.

Quick Q&A

What is the difference between YouTube and Youku?

YouTube and Youku are video-sharing platforms, but they operate in different markets and under different regulations. While YouTube is a global platform unavailable in China, Youku caters specifically to the Chinese audience. It also adheres to China’s strict internet censorship laws, which influence the type of content available on the platform.

How popular is Youku in China?

Youku’s popularity stems from its extensive range of content, including TV shows, movies, user-generated videos, and live streaming services, all of which are specifically curated to cater to the preferences of the Chinese audience. Today, it’s the second-largest video-hosting platform in China.


Your Trusted Youku Advertising Partner in the Chinese Market!

While China has many streaming service platforms, Youku differentiates itself from the rest with its video-focused ad formats and content variations. With the continued increase of video consumption among local audiences, it’s a perfect starting point to boost your brand visibility.

At Sekkei Digital Group, our team is dedicated to ensuring your content reaches the right audience. With our extensive experience in Chinese digital advertising, we can help you achieve a formidable position in the local market.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether it’s setting up a Youku brand account or launching an elaborate advertising campaign, we have all the digital solutions you need. Contact us today to learn more!


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How Does Advertising on Youku Work
What is Youku? A Guide for Brands and Publishers
Advertising Options with Youku

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