WeChat was wary of allowing ads in its early stages, worried that it might harm user experience. However, the increasing penetration of the social app actually turned WeChat into a marketplace of individual ads before official advertising was introduced. Favored by many international brands as well as local advertisers with increasing business in China, WeChat advertising has caught global marketers’ attention and is believed to be a perfect place to harvest traffic and leads. But the world is also wondering: How does it actually work? Well, solving this question is exactly why we are here today. We are going to walk you through WeChat ads and hope this trip will unravel some of the mystery. If you are still new to this super app, not to worry—we have just the article for you that will teach you the basics of WeChat.
This is the most talked about and viewed advertising channel embedded in WeChat. According to the official statement, individual users can see up to one Moment ad every 48 hours, which will disappear within 6 hours without engagement. Comments, likes and even clicks to the ads will increase the likelihood of users receiving similar prompts. There are five formats that allow your ads to spread across the platform, reaching possibly one billion users nationwide.
Image credit: WeChat
These are two widely applied types of WeChat feed advertising, which global brands including Apple and McDonald’s have already used in several promotional campaigns. The pattern of ads is similar to ordinary moment feeds. What’s more, the LBS (location-based service) feature provides advertisers, especially offline stores, with new opportunities to leverage WeChat’s substantial user base by targeting people who come nearby and offering tempting discount e-vouchers (online to offline geotargeting). We will explain this part further in the “targeting configuration” section.
Image credit: WeChat
The three types of advertising seen above are comparatively new and tailor-designed for social engagement campaigns by providing Q&A-type options for the user. They are very creative and demanding advertising formats, requiring two sets of landing pages.
Supported Media Formats & Recommended Promotion Types
|Basic||Big Card||Options and Votes|
|Promotional Material||Ad copy, picture, video, hyperlink||Ad copy, picture, video||Ad copy, picture, video|
|Promotional Objectives||Commercial campaigns with landing pages, offline stores, online stores (e-commerce), official accounts, e-coupons, leads collector, apps, mini-app (including games)||Commercial campaign w/ landing pages, offline stores, apps, online store (e-commerce), official accounts, leads collector, mini-app (including games)||Commercial campaigns w/ landing pages|
Official account ads
Thanks to the expanding WeChat public accounts market (its monthly active numbers reached 3.5 million in 2018) and substantial content creation capacity, official accounts have become appealing platforms for ad placement.
The most popular advertising method for in-account ads is paying for impressions that go along with articles. They are mostly placed either at the bottom or in the middle of posts.
Image credit: WeChat
Mutual selective ads look similar to bottom ads though they have a different programmatic scheme. Unlike the two examples above that are based on common bidding pricing systems (namely CPM or CPC), mutual advertising requires both advertisers and account owners to agree on a promotion plan prior to the actual start of a campaign. These plans usually involve a charge for a promised impression or a flat fee for one piece of tailor-made content. Such advertisement facilitates social engagement between brands and followers of certain types of accounts, which will improve target audience management.
Image credit: WeChat
However, there are some limitations that you may need to take into consideration before your campaign goes live on WeChat. Here is a list of the characteristics of the ad types.
|Ads at the bottom||Ads in the middle||Mutual selective|
|Promotional Material||Video, picture (available sizes: 960*540 or 960*334 pixel)||Picture (only 960*540 pixel)||Video, picture (only 960*540 pixel)|
|Promotional Objectives||Commercial campaigns with landing pages, online store (e-commerce), apps, games (mini-app), official accounts, leads collector||Commercial campaigns with landing pages, online store (e-commerce), apps, e-coupons, games (mini-app), official accounts, leads collector||Commercial campaigns with landing pages, official accounts, mini apps (including games)|
If you’ve succeeded in pre-roll advertising at YouTube and want to duplicate that success with WeChat, there is a way. By enabling ad clips to play prior to videos that are more than three minutes in length and embedded in WeChat articles, advertisers have more opportunities to attract potential users.
Pre-rolls can be one of three things: a five-second animated GIF, a short video of six seconds (not skippable) or a clip fifteen-seconds in length (skippable after five seconds).
Campaigns can be launched on pages promoting brands, apps, official accounts, games (mini-app) and leads recruitment.
We now come to the most important part – money. There are four different measurable ways for advertisers to purchase ads: CPM (cost per mille) with fixed timespan, bidding CPM, bidding CPC (cost per click) and CPP (cost per post). Let’s go through them one by one.
a. CPM with the fixed timespan
|Moment ads (excludes offline stores and e-commerce)||Starts from 50,000 RMB/campaign||Video: starts from 60 RMB/CPM
Picture: starts from 50 RMB/CPM
|Official account ads (bottom)||Starts from 1,000 RMB/campaign||Video: starts from 30 RMB/CPM
Picture: starts from 25 RMB/CPM
|Pro-rolls||Starts from 1,000 RMB/campaign||Starts from 15 RMB/CPM|
The price is heavily dependent on targeted regions. Tier 1 cities including Beijing and Shanghai can be up to 300% more than prices listed above.
|Moment ads||Starts from 1,000 RMB/day||Starts from 30~200 RMB/CPM|
|Pre-rolls||Starts from 200 RMB/day||Starts from 10~200 RMB/CPM|
|Official account ads (bottom)||Starts from 50 RMB/day||Starts from 0.5 RMB/CPC|
|Official account ads (middle)||Starts from 50 RMB/day||Starts from 0.5 RMB/CPC|
There is no official information on the correlation between the price range of paid ads and individual posts. But a kind reminder to any advertiser who would like to negotiate a price with an influencer – always take the KOL’s targeted audience as the number one consideration instead of the traffic scale of a certain account. You might need this website to check some price ranges as reference.
WeChat advertising has a comprehensive targeting system that is able to assist advertisers in controlling where their ads go. The configuration selection features region (as well as LBS, location-based service), sex, age, mobile device details (brands, OS and network service provider), marital status, academic degree, interest and behavior tags, and even remarketing.
This function enables marketers to locate the targeted audience not just from permanent residency but also from the location when traveling. Even users who live outside mainland China are reachable in the system, though only 11 countries and regions are currently available (these include Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
LBS is something worth mentioning. Such technology offers advertisers an opportunity to target users geographically to an astonishingly precise degree. Ads can be designed to spread through 4,400 commercial malls across the country or within a radius of 500 to 5,000 meters in certain areas. Considering the scale and disparity of demographics across China, this is incredibly important for offline lifestyle businesses.
b. Interest and behavior
WeChat analyzes its users through a variety of data. Boasting a broad spectrum of in-app services from content (public accounts) and search to e-commerce (JD.com mini app) and public utilities, it’s not difficult for the social titan to draw demographics from big data analysis. Your follows reveal your interests, and your engagements show your tastes. Be careful of what you do on WeChat, otherwise you may become addicted to these advertised services!
This strategy has been proven efficient by lots of successful campaigns devised to constantly influence users by adopting consecutive targeted advertising campaigns for certain products or businesses. Looking at this strategy through WeChat, people that match these criteria are suitable for WeChat remarketing activities:
- Current followers and those who unfollowed you in the past 30 days
- Users who have ever landed your application (only installments on Android devices are detectable)
- Users who engage with your ads (clicks, likes or positive comments) or have won coupons from promotion campaigns over the past year
WeChat advertising is definitely a great tool to reach your potential clients based in China. In addition to wide adoption by major global brands, WeChat advertising is now open to all-scale merchants by allowing advertisers to customize their ads formats, price schemes and targeting configurations. Touted as “a part of Chinese people’s daily life,” WeChat accounts for 23.8% of our one billion people’s total internet surfing hours a day. Considering the market activity decline of the search engine giant Baidu, the investment in the WeChat advertising may offset some of the impression loss from search engine marketing. Still hesitant about it? Look for branding suggestions from consultants and dig around some more – a reasonable market spending plan should be a result of serious analysis and assessment that can leverage media purchasing instead of merely following the crowd.