Last Updated on May 29, 2023
WeChat – It is a social media behemoth, one that brands looking to advertise in China should be very familiar with. In this WeChat Advertising guide, we’re going to do a deep dive on:
- What advertising looks like on WeChat
- The available features for targeting an audience
- Payment and bidding options
- How to get set up
- Best practices
WeChat has become an essential part of the Chinese digital landscape, offering businesses unparalleled access to millions of potential customers. But with great power comes great responsibility, and it’s essential to understand what WeChat Advertising is all about and how to make the most of it. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to launch a successful WeChat Advertising campaign and reach new heights of brand awareness and engagement.
What are the Types Of WeChat Ads?
WeChat Moments are like the Facebook news feed, but boiled down to almost only the posts (AKA status updates) that WeChat friends make. WeChat Moments are, in a sense, cleaner and tidier than the news feed; users aren’t shown news stories, links from third parties, or reports on the activity of their contacts on the platform. Moments are pure and simple: a chronological account of what a WeChat user’s direct contacts have chosen to share. This makes the Moments feed very attractive real estate for advertisers, as ads placed there will not have to compete with other forms of content.
There are two main formats in which Moments ads may be displayed: as a post, which looks almost identical to a normal user’s post, or in ‘card format’.
All post formats typically contain a string of text, followed by either one, three, six or nine images, or a video. They may also include a call to action, and a link to a mini-program (such as a store), official account, a WeChat article, or an H5-enabled interactive page. Card formats typically only feature one image, but with a wide format, and an eye-catching headline in bold. They, too, can link to mini-programs, articles, official accounts and H5 pages.
With campaign investments of over one million RMB, there are special formats available for Moments ads too. They include the ability to feature links to sites outside of the Tencent ecosystem, full-size videos, card posts with two buttons, interactive videos, and 360-panoramic image displays.
Mini-programs are like small apps within the WeChat app, used for anything from stores to virtual art galleries, delivery services to games. They’re operated by registered businesses, not individual users, as they must be linked to a WeChat service account.
Developers of mini-programs are able to leave ad space for other companies to use. This sometimes comes in the form of a banner-ad at the bottom or top of the screen, and other times as an interstitial full-screen display or pop-up. In mini-programs for games, it’s possible to play a video incentive ad. The ads can lead to an H5 page, a WeChat official account, or can trigger the opening of another app such as JD.com.
Article banner ads
Banner ads may be displayed on WeChat articles from either subscription accounts or WeChat service accounts. There are three main types. The first two are straightforward: large-format single image or video ads with a brand title and/or logo, placed either at the end or in the middle of a WeChat article. Like Moments ads, they can link to stores, official accounts or H5 pages.
These standard banner ads cannot be targeted to appear on particular accounts; they instead rely on a WeChat algorithm that matches the ads with a defined target audience.
How to Target An Audience on WeChat?
WeChat provides a fairly broad spectrum of targeting options.
Location options include areas in China, but also since 2017 the ability to target Chinese travelers in other countries. Once normal travel resumes, this will be very helpful, as Chinese travelers will be much more likely to use WeChat than adopt its international alternatives when abroad.
There are gender and age options, the latter of which can be defined within a range from 5-60 years old. There’s the further option to define the audience by interest, which is done by first selecting one of 18 industries – e.g. technology, education, fashion, professional services – and then choosing one or more of 122 sub-categories.
What are the Bidding Methods on WeChat?
There are three payment options available for ad campaigns on WeChat: scheduled ads, bid by impression, and bid by click. Scheduled Moments ads require a minimum investment of 50,000RMB per day, while banner ads and mini-program ads can be initiated for as little as 1,000RMB per time. Bidding for Moments ads requires a 50,000RMB down payment, while other formats do not.
From there, the exact pricing depends on where a campaign is targeting, and what sort of ad is being run. Beijing and Shanghai are defined as ‘core cities’, with the highest rates, while other first tier and second tier cities are a little more affordable, and third tier cities and below are the cheapest. Single-image ads cost the least, while adding images or switching to video increases the price.
It’s best to ask an agency or login to the WeChat advertising backend, and enter campaign details, to see exact pricing, as the models can be a little complex. As an example, however, here is a table for WeChat Moments ads pricing:
Getting Set Up
The setup procedure is a little time-consuming and can be complex to the uninitiated. The process can be a lot smoother by having someone experienced do it on a brand’s behalf. It’s nevertheless a good idea to be aware of the steps involved, so as to know what to expect of processing times and requirements.
Step One – Sign up / log in.
Log into the WeChat backend. If you don’t yet have an account, there are two main options for advertising: a subscription account, and a service account (an enterprise account, better for internal and B2Bcommunication). They each have their own pros and cons, so it’s worth doing a little reading first to decide which to go for. This should be a wider marketing strategy decision, not one just based on advertising.
Some good news: since 2021, posts and ads from international accounts are now visible to domestic Chinese audiences. Signing up however, either as an international company or company registered in China, does take a fair amount of paperwork and approval time. It’s best to allow at least 3-4 weeks.
There is an English-language version of the backend, but it is currently not a complete translation of the Chinese version, so we recommend sticking with the Chinese version for now. Using Google Chrome to auto-translate each page as you navigate it makes life (relatively) easy.
Step Two – Open WeChat ads, select industry.
You will need to read and agree to terms and conditions, and then select your industry type. During this step, you may be asked to upload additional licenses associated with that industry, for example a commercial performance license or brand licensing agreement. You will also be asked to give the name and contact phone number of the person responsible for advertising on your company’s behalf.
Step Three – Select ad format.
In the picture below, you can see official accounts ads and moments ads. It’s now also possible to select Mini-Program ad.
(Source: WeChat Wiki)
Step Four – Select promotion and payment type.
The promotion type will depend on whether you’re going to be directing users to a WeChat official account, promoting a mobile app, or simply creating a general brand promotion.
In the first part of this guide, we spoke about bidding vs scheduled payments. Decide on which is best for you before going through this step.
Step Five – Select launch time and target audience.
Step Six – Set budget.
Minimum budgets vary, as mentioned in Part 1. For Moments ads, the minimum budget is 50,000RMB.
Step Seven – Choose ad template, or promote WeChat official account article.
From here, several templates and customization options will be available.
It’s also possible to choose at this stage to promote a WeChat official account article:
Step Eight – Sign the agreement and submit funds.
Tencent will need to review the ad for approval.
Step Nine – Preview before launch.
After approval, it’s possible to send the ad to a whitelist of people. If no adjustments need to be made, it can be launched on schedule.
Step Ten – After launch, wallow in data.
Your account is open, your ad has launched, now it’s time to bask in the light of beautiful, beautiful data. Check back for all manner of metrics.
WeChat Advertising Best Practices
The lengthy registration time leaves brands plenty of time to make marketing strategies and get familiar with some WeChat advertising best practices, so that every campaign can be a success.
- Choose your ad type wisely. This is of the utmost importance.
- Eye-catching, upbeat visuals. All WeChat ads are highly visual – usually using between one and nine images, or a video. This means that visual considerations need to be high on the priority list. Users have reported a preference for upbeat, positive imagery.
- Set clear goals. Your WeChat ad should look and feel different, depending on whether it is aiming to drive sales, gain followers for an official account, spread brand awareness or drive users to a mini-program or website. This is also an important consideration when it comes to calculating acceptable ROI and performance metrics.
- Devise or follow a WeChat-Specific marketing funnel. From awareness, to consideration, conversion to retention, map out KPIs and match them with the data tools available on the WeChat backend.
- High-quality content drives follows. If an increase in followers is the goal of the ad, then make sure it leads to high-quality, shareable content. Most WeChat official account content is formatted in traditional blog-style posts. By utilizing H5 pages, or customizing posts with an advanced editor, it’s possible to stand out from the crowd.
- Get interactive. WeChat has several options for interacting with users, including group chats, games, competitions and surveys. Utilize WeChat’s new ‘Channels’ video function to create dialogues with followers.
- Localize your content. Directly translating English-language ads, and expecting them to work on a Chinese audience, is a risky game. Cultural nuances are hidden in the least-expected places, so it’s important that even if the main campaign is devised in English, it’s consulted on and localized by an expert in WeChat marketing to Chinese audiences.
- Ensure consistency across channels. WeChat is a marketing ecosystem – it’s obvious for an ad and its destination to be visually and stylistically coherent. But what about the other aspects of the ecosystem? From the ad destination – be it an H5 page, an article or a mini-program – interested users will likely make extra steps to explore the brand’s WeChat official account, its recent posts, its interface and any associated products. By ensuring consistency between these elements, it gives a foundation to the brand image.
In sum, there are three main types of ad on the WeChat platform – Moments ads, mini-program ads and banner ads. Which type to choose depends largely on campaign goals, and the target audience. In general, Moments ads are more coveted, and thereby carry a higher price tag. For small to medium-sized brands, banner ads and mini-program ads may prove to be more feasible.
WeChat Banner ads have the advantage of being associated with content, which gives more of a target-by-interest system. Mini-program ads are more associated with behaviour – if a user is on a mini-program, they are already primed for an interaction, and if the mini-program is a store, then they are more likely to be in a purchasing mood.
As WeChat is both a close, complex and constantly evolving ecosystem, it can make Ads decision making even more challenging than understanding the platform itself, that’s why reaching out to the right partner with an extensive experience on the WeChat ecosystem and Advertising management is crucial to your success.
Drop us a line, we’ll be glad to share some guidance and help plan, adjust or execute properly your next or existing WeChat Ads campaigns.
2 thoughts on “WeChat Advertising: What brands should know about this key tool?”
Thanks for Such a detailed and well researched post on Wechat Advertising.
Thanks for such valuable post given detailed information about the WeChat Marketing.