How to Advertise On WeChat
Unlike Facebook, WeChat is first and foremost a chat application with some social sharing abilities. Because of this, for a long time, Tencent had a lot of trouble trying to monetize WeChat.
If you run too many ads, you risk losing users but if you don’t run ads then you don’t make money. Fortunately for Tencent is that they have WeChat pay & Tencent games which makes them a lot of money.
This means Tencent has to be very careful about how they’re serving their ads to the users, so the idea of advertising on WeChat really didn’t happen till 2015 and that was only for large brands by invite only.
So, for a very long time, you really don’t see a lot of advertisement on Tencent with the exception of WeChat official account banner ads but they were so bad and had a terrible ROI for most businesses in China that Tencent had to revamp how the banners ads are run.
Today, Tencent has reworked their official account banner advertisement and you’ll now see a lot more moment ads that you would have never seen before. Tencent has definitely increased the amount of advertisement they are allowing on WeChat, so it is a great time to get started with WeChat advertising if you haven’t yet.
But first, let’s discuss how advertising works on WeChat and what kind of reach you’re able to achieve in and outside of mainland China.
Audience Targeting On WeChat
If you’re used to the targeting that is available on Google, Facebook, etc.. WeChat pretty much offer very similar targeting. You can target users based on their Demographic(location, age, gender, education level, Psychographic(interest targeting), or Behavioral(device, mobile network).
One thing I do want to mention, however, like most other Chinese social media and digital channels usually most of the targeting available will be within mainland China. This is also true for WeChat but they’ve recently opened up advertising for oversea Chinese and Chinese tourist outside of mainland China.
Here is a list of countries & cities you can target that’s outside of mainland China.
Asia: Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Philippine, Cambodia, Laos, Maldives, Myanmar, India, Indonesia
Europe: Germany, France, England, Italy, Finland, UAE, Egypt, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Morocco, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Saudi Arabian, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Spain
North America: United States, Canada, Mexico
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand
South America: Brazil, Argentina
Interest targeting is basically when you target WeChat user who has shown signs of being interested in certain “interests”. WeChat tags users basic on what articles they searched for, what article they’ve read and what official accounts they’re following to determine the user’s interest.
WeChat then does an intensity check which basically measures how frequency or often a particular user are interacting with a particular topic, product, or interest. For example, if a user has searched for “new sports cars in 2019”, followed Porsche’s official account, read an article on the “Top 5 Sports Car of 2019” and visited a Porsche dealership all with in the last 30 days then WeChat will mark him as high intent potential buyer of a new Porsche.
Demographics targeting is pretty straight forward. WeChat allows you to target users based on their age which ranges from 5 years old all the way to 60+, their gender, and their
You can also target users on WeChat based on their recent behaviors such as if they’ve traveled outside of China or if they’ve searched a particular keyword recently, downloaded an App, read an article on the topic, etc…
I want to wrap up this WeChat advertisement targeting section by saying that from our experience WeChat is not that accurate with their target. Like Facebook, WeChat has it’s own machine learning to figure out who best to serve your ads to that will most likely achieve results but it is still in the early stages of development.
3 Types of WeChat Advertisements
As of this year (2019), there are really only 3 ways you can advertise on WeChat which is moments ads, official account ads, and mini-program ads. However, there are each of these 3 types of advertisement on WeChat has different ad formats and objectives that you can leverage. Here is a breakdown of all the different types of WeChat advertisements.
1 WeChat Moments Advertising
Moment ads are arguably is the best placement for your advertisement on WeChat, but it is also the most expensive type of advertisement on WeChat. For the most WeChat moments, ads work pretty much like Facebook news feed ads but with a few exceptions.
For one, unlike Facebook, WeChat only shows a maximum of 2 different types of ads per user per day. This means that at the most you’ll see 2 different ads on your moments in a single day.
Second, unlike Facebook, WeChat moments ads are more sticky. What this means is if are an experience of Facebook or Instagram ads you’ll notice that as you scroll through your newsfeed you’ll see various of ads appear but if you scroll past them and then scroll back up to look for them there is a very good chance that ad will have disappeared or changed to another different ad if you didn’t interact with you.
WeChat moment ads do something except it stays around for 6 hours if you don’t interact with it and then it disappears altogether from your moments and is not replaced by another ad till the day after.
WeChat Moment Ad Types
Currently, at least for WeChat Moment Ads (there are banner ads but it’s not as effective), you have two types of ad creatives that you can use video and image ads.
With video moment ads as you’ll be able to add a small 4:3 or 16:9 6 – 15-second video instead of an image. I know you may be thinking 6 – 15 seconds what can you do with only 6 – 15 seconds and you’re right.
For the most part, 6 – 15-second video can really only be used for branding and awareness purpose, however, there is a caveat. First, the 6 – 15 seconds video auto-plays as the user scrolls down their moments but if a user clicks on the video itself the advertiser has two options.
- You can display a longer 5 minutes version of the video in full-screen mode which is not the greatest but much better than 6 – 15 seconds.
- You can display the same video but just in full-screen mode.
All and all the video ads on the moment is rarely used and if used most brands use it to future a new product.
- Brand Logo & Name
- Ad Copy Maximum 40 Chinese Characters and cannot be longer than 4 rows.
- Video Creative that is 6~15 seconds long in formats of 4:3 or 16:9.
- Call to Action Link
- Store Location (Available for Local Advertisement Only)
- Comments and Like.
With image ads, it is pretty much like having a standard moments post, you can either have 1 large image or 3,4 or 6 small ones. Apart from the ad creative, there is no other difference between image and video ads.
- Brand Logo & Name
- Ad Copy Maximum 40 Chinese Characters and cannot be longer than 4 rows.
- Image creatives. You can have 1, 3, 4 or 6 images.
- Call to Action Link
- Store Location (Available for Local Advertisement Only)
- Comments and Like.
Flip Ads (Beta Only)
This is a brand new type of moment ads you can run but it is still in beta testing. It is essentially a remarketing ad but without having to serve your user a new ad. The way it works is simple. Let’s say you want to run a campaign to promote your new car model but if you straight up a promotional type of ad then most users won’t engage with it because they know it’s advertising.
What flip ads allows you to do is run a soft ad that is designed to create engagement and once the user clicks on it a new version of the ad will replace your current moment ad. This is a rather unique type of ad for WeChat moments only because of how moment ads are sticky for 6 hours like I mentioned above.
3 Objectives of Moment Advertising
With WeChat moments ads there are 3 ultimate objectives you can choose from and they are to “Increase Brand Awareness”, “Generate Leads” or “Get More Subscribers”.
Increase Brand Awareness
The goal of the brand awareness campaign as well to get more people to be aware of your brand. However, on WeChat there is really no such thing as a pure brand awareness campaign as you can connect your H5 landing page or send people your official account, here are some examples:
Sending People to H5 Campaigns: Here you see an example of moment ad where if people click on the “Learn More” call to action link, it will direct them to a piece of content or an H5 landing page.
Sending People to Templated Landing Page: Here if the user clicks on either the image or call to action link they will be directed to a templated landing page that you can customize provided by WeChat.
Sending People to Mini Program: Here is an example of sending people directly to your WeChat mini program.
The second objective you can choose is to collect leads on WeChat, this is much like Facebook’s Lead Generation objective where WeChat will provide you with a customizable lead generation template to collect name, phone, etc…
Increase WeChat Follower and Subscribers
Lastly, you can just send people directly to your WeChat official account to as them to subscribe to your account.
2 WeChat Official Account Ads
You can think of this as kind of like Google Display or partner network advertising except it is exclusive on WeChat official accounts (subscription). If you don’t know what a WeChat official account is then you’ve skipped way ahead of yourself and should go back to read our chapter 3: WeChat Official Accounts in Details.
Anyway, basically WeChat subscription accounts are like blogs (content publisher) but exclusive within the WeChat network, you can share articles from WeChat official account outside of WeCHat but honestly, it’s rare.
The way WeChat Official Accounts Advertising works is Tencent leveraging its partner system to match you as an advertiser with a publisher (Official Account) that is relevant to the target audience you want to reach.
Now when official account advertising initially came up it was actually pretty bad, the results were bad and advertiser didn’t want to pay for it after a while. Now, Tencent has actually improved their matching system to show your ads on only official accounts that the most relevant to your ads. Does it make the mistake, of course, there is no perfect system out there again it comes down to testing.
That being said with WeChat official account ads there are actually 4 ways your ads can be shown on the official accounts much like the moments ads
Banner at the End of the Article
This is also the most common that of WeChat official account ads you will see which is essentially a banner ad the bottom of the official account that is relevant to your target audiences.
Note: WeChat call banner stickers but for simplicity sake, I’m going to stick to banner instead, no pun intended ????
4 Types of Objectives
Just like the moment ads, there are various objects you can choose that leads to different “landing pages” and how the banner ad will look can vary as well.
Generic Landing Page
This is just the standard banner ads with a stand image banner and if the user clicks on it, it goes to a landing page.
Official Account Promotion
Funny enough you can essentially legally steal subscribers from another official account with this objective. But basically, you can run banner ads that if the user clicks on it will lead them to your WeChat Official Account.
There are actually two ways this can happen. With this type of objective, you can create a banner ad with a button and your official accounts logo to the right of the banner. If the user clicks on the banner image they’re taken to your official account’s main page, but if they click on the button, a popup shows up and ask them to confirm if they want to follow your account.
If you want people to buy your stuff then this is the objective you’ll choose that being said the ad format is much like the stand banner ads but you do have the option to have a caption and button to the right of your banner instead as well much like the Official Account Promotion ad format.
The app download is the same as official account promotion ad format if you click on the button it takes you to an app download page instead of an official account page.
Last but not lease you can distribute coupons as a banner ad as well.
In-text banner ads are pretty much the same as the end of the article banner ads, the only difference is that it looks more like a newsfeed ad with a link below the image. One important note is that not every official account will allow this type of ads on their articles.
WeChat Official Account Collaboration System
Ok, some of you may know what KOLs are and on WeChat when I say KOL I really just mean large subscription account with a huge subscriber list. Now, so far we talked about apart from moment ads on WeChat your only another option is to advertise on official accounts but there lies a problem.
How do you find the right official account for your product or service promotions?
How do you know which official account has legitimate subscribers?
And how do you find this official account in the first place?
And from and official account owner’s perspective, how do I find a relevant advertiser to work?
Don’t worry, because Tencent has a solution for that as well.
Introducing WeChat Official Account Collaboration System, where WeChat will help you find and facilitate an advertisement partnership between you the advertiser and the official account.
WeChat will help you to find the most relevant official accounts that are open to working with your brand, products or services to ensure that you won’t get scammed and ensure high content quality standard.
Pretty cool right?
To use this system you as the advertiser has two choices to collaborate with the official accounts, which is the Recommendation Mode or the Full Customization Mode.
With the recommendation mode, you as the advertiser will have the ability to provide the official account that you’re collaborating with to additional ad copies or tagline that they will add to the standard banner ads mentioned above. So, instead of just a banner image ad, your ad will not have more ad copy and tagline.
The challenge with this mode is that the official account is only obligated to add the tagline or ad copies. They don’t have to customize your ad to feel more seamlessly integrated with their article nor are they responsible to make sure the content fits with your ad copies at all.
The upside to this mode is that the official account you’re collaborating with under this mode will have to sign a contract to guarantee the advertiser a pre-definite number of an impression before they will receive the payment, and if there are any additional impressions beyond what the official account promise there will be no additional charge to the advertiser.
Full Customization Mode
In all honesty, the Full Customization Mode is essentially the same thing as if you’re working directly with the official account KOL. Because under this mode you’ll be provided with the contact of the owner of the account so that you can work out the details of how the promotion piece will work. The only difference is that you’ve Tencent involved as the middle man to ensure that you won’t get scammed by the KOL.
This allows you as the advertiser to have pretty much full control of the creatives, the content and how your banner ads will fit into the article. The downside, however, is that the official account doesn’t have to guarantee a targeted impression number and the payment will be settled once the article is published.
There is another way that you can advertise on WeChat that doesn’t involve working with Tencent at all which I explain below.
3 WeChat Mini Program Ads
Finally, there are the new WeChat Mini Program ads that you can run as well. Mini Programs are new to WeChat but basically, it’s a web app for WeChat that has the added benefits of being integrated with WeChat’s API which means it can integrate very well with your official account. The downside is you’ll have to develop a mini-program which is pretty much like creating a mobile website.
Anyway, as of right now, there are 3 different types of ad format on WeChat Mini Program as follow:
This is really the same as the banner ads we’ve talked about with official account with all of the same objective and ad formats as well. The difference, however, is that in the mini-program so depending on what the WeChat mini program do the ad may fit in very nicely.
The location where your banner ads will appear in any particular Mini Program is up to the owner of the Mini Program. Basically, this works exactly the same as Google Display Ads where the blog publisher can choose where to put the ads on their website and you advertisers will show up there.
Have you ever played a mobile game that is free and every so often if you lose, you’re given the option to watch a video ad to get a free continue? Well, this is exactly what Mini-Game ads do.
Basically, WeChat Mini-Game created can place these “incentives” to encourage the user to watch a 6 – 15 video ads and once you click yes to watch the ad then the ad will start playing till the very end.
The Mini Program Popup Ads shows up whenever the user triggers certain action in a Mini Program. This trigger will be decided by the owner of the Mini Program and can be events such as pausing a video, or sliding to the next tab, etc…
How to Get Started With WeChat Advertising
In order to advertise on WeChat, you’ll need to have a Verified WeChat Official Account unless you work with KOL.
Prior to 2017, you can only run WeChat ads with verified WeChat official account registered with a mainland Chinese business. Now, even if you have an oversea official account you’re eligible to run advertisement but only if within the 12 eligible countries outside of mainland China that are allowed to run WeChat ads and that you get approved by Tencent to run ads on your verified official account.
- Asia: Hongkong, Taiwan, Macao, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore Korea, Thailand
- North America: United States, Canada
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand
Cost of Advertising On WeChat
In order to advertise on WeChat, there is a minimum requirement of 30,000 RMB to get started regardless if you’re a registered business in China, a WOFE, or an oversea business with a verified WeChat official account.
You can work with WeChat KOLs which we cover in the next chapter and that can be less costly or more depending on who you work with.
Overall WeChat banner ads will be generally cheaper compare to say moments ads and as of right now you add a new follower for your official account for as low as 5 – 7 RMB and as high as 20+ RMB depending on your target audience, your industry, and your ad copy.
That said while WeChat moments ads will generally be more expensive and you may have a higher CPA (cost per acquisition), we find that moment ads will generally be of a higher quality.
6 Rules of Success with WeChat Advertisement
I’m using the words “Success with WeChat Advertisement” loosely here as there are also the same rules that will pretty much apply to all forms of advertisement both traditional and digital.
1 Have the Right Exception
I personally think this is the most important rule for succeeding with any type of advertisements WeChat or newspaper. If you expect to have a 50% of all people that have seen your WeChat moments ads to click on the ad then you’re probably going to be very disappointed.
Likewise, if you want to be able to acquire a new customer for less than 3 – 4 RMB, it is probably not going to happen on WeChat for most products and services.
2 Understand the Importance of Ad Scent
The idea of ad scent is simply because it means that make sure you don’t confuse the user with a dramatic change from how your ad looks, says and feels to how your landing page looks, says, and feels.
If your ad says “Save 20% Off On Selective T-Shirts” and have an image of models wearing T-Shirts guess what? Your landing page, at least on the very top, the first few things that the user see better say “Save 20% Off on Selective T-Shirts” or something along that line and permeability have a similar image as well.
The reason is, interact has created a lot of short tension spam people and if they click on your ad and your landing pages complete looks different and makes their brain ask “Am I at the right place?” then they will simply leave.
3 Know Your Numbers
Knowing key numbers of your business is critical if you want to succeed with WeChat advertisements. For example, if you’re want to increase your revenue by 10% which will mean that you have to sell 5,000 more unites per months then you need to figure out at what CPA will make your WeChat campaign make sense to hit your revenue goal and at what point will it be a total loss.
If you don’t know your numbers then you won’t be able to properly assess the results of your campaigns and optimize your campaigns since you don’t know what your KPIs ares.
4 You’ll Will Fail, So Test Everything
Even the best copywriter, advertiser, and marketer in the world are wrong most of the time, so, just because of you read an article on WeChat advertising that doesn’t mean you’ll succeed, at least not right out of the box.
Regardless of what media or channel you choose to run ads on you should always test because you really never know what will work for you and your brand. Too often do business owner relay on that silver bullet that one channel that is finally going to turn their business around only to find themselves disappointed.
The reality is after having to spend millions on advertising in China and working with business of all kinds there isn’t one channel that works for everyone. In fact, you can copy the exact same ads hat your competitors are running and you may not get the same results.
If you want to succeed with WeChat advertisement you’ll have to test a lot, especially with images which is often what makes and breaks a campaign.
5 Focus on Hook and Offers
I’ve been in this game long enough to tell you that most of what you read about WeChat, Weibo, Baidu, or even Facebook, Google, etc… is bull*%@#. Not because the advice is bad, well some are bad but it is because they are general advice and in reality, there are many factors for a campaign to succeed vs another.
I’m not sure what most business and brands believe that one channel is going to solve all their problems because it is not. The truth is from my experience must channels will work, but of course, some will work better than others and some will be better suited for certain industry than others.
But for the most part, as long as your target audience is paying attention to that specific channel or media then there is a way to get it to work. What you should focus on instead is to find that right hook and right offer because once you do, you can replicate that successful campaign on multiple channels and not just WeChat
6 Use Remarketing
While a lot of business and brand now pretty much know what remarketing or retargeting advertising is. If you don’t basically it is when a user interacts with your ads, website, WeChat official account, article, etc… but didn’t convert or make a purchase.
You can cookie the and then run a specific advertising campaign specifically to them to remind them to buy or sign up for your product or services. For example, if are looking for new shoes and you browsed a new Niky running shoe on TMall but didn’t make the purchase and then all of a sudden you’re seeing ads about that specific pair of shoes well that’s remarketing ads at work.
WeChat has a remarketing function as well and do allow you to remarket to any
user who interacted with your moment or official account ads but didn’t take an