WeChat – the omnipresent super-app that is an inextricable part of life in China as public transport, healthcare systems and steamed rice. It is a social media behemoth, one that brands looking to advertise in China should be very familiar with. In this two-parts 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
Types of WeChat Ad
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 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 WeChat, 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, an 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 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.
Targeting an Audience
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.
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:
In sum, there are three main types of ad on WeChat – 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.
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.
In the next part of this guide, we will detail exactly how to get started with WeChat ads, and our selection of best practices. Stay Tuned!
If your WeChat project can’t wait for Part 2 of this article to be published, please reach out to us, we can schedule a call for you with one of our consultants.