The Ultimate 2022 Weibo Ads Guide, Part 1

Weibo, China’s second-largest social media platform (after WeChat), is essential territory for companies that wish to run effective advertising campaigns in China. Although Twitter-style micro-blogging is at its heart, the platform involves so much more than the oft-touted, erroneous analogy, ‘China’s Twitter’. In fact, Weibo has a wide range of features, from fully-integrated e-commerce to news feeds, from gaming to video feeds. Like Facebook, the vast majority of its income is generated through advertising. Here are some quick facts about Weibo:

  • Established in 2009
  • Now has more than 500 million monthly active users
  • 220+ million average daily active users
  • Viewed on mobile 94% of the time
  • Annual turnover of $1.77bn in 2019, compared to $118m in 2014
  • Hugely popular with, and populated by, KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders)


Monthly Active Users on Weibo, in Millions


Weibo Ads Types

There are five main types of ads on Weibo. None is necessarily better than any other; they can be thought of as comprising a toolkit. Which ones you choose to use, at any given time, depends on what task you have at hand, and what your campaign needs and goals are. Once the campaign goals are set, take time to consider the following: fan tunnels, fan headlines, display ads, feed ads, destination page ads and search-based ads.


Fan Tunnel (Fěnsī tōng –粉丝通)

A fan tunnel is one of the most-used ad options on Weibo, owing to its relatively low cost and decent targeting features. The process works fairly simply: brands may either promote a single post, or their account, to users selected based on gender, age, location, device and interests. The post appears at the top of users’ feeds, and can be promoted for up to seven days, although each post will only be shown to each user once.

Crucially, the post or account is promoted to non-followers. This makes it a great tool for new accounts, or those looking to increase their number of followers.

Tunnels are priced according to CPM (cost per mile) – starting at 5RMB per 1,000 views – or CPE (cost per engagement) – which starts at 0.5RMB per engagement and increases at increments of 0.1RMB. The ultimate price depends on bidding, which will be covered in more detail in Part 2 of this guide.


Fan Headlines (Fěnsī tóutiáo粉丝头条)

Fan headlines work in a similar way to fan tunnels, except that they are directed towards existing followers, and their personal connections. Once again, they sit at the top of a user’s news feed, and may be promoted for 24 hours. Fan headlines are reported to have a significantly higher re-sharing potential, and because they are directed towards existing fans, are more in line with a goal of increasing engagement, rather than increasing followers.

Brands can choose to either promote one of their posts, or their account, or they may promote another user’s post. This is helpful if an influential user, or KOL, has shared something that would lead others to be interested.


Display Ads

Display ads are more traditional banner or single-image type ads, that can appear in the search area, Weibo homepage, or alongside feeds. They come in a variety of dimensions, and link directly to an account when clicked. They may also be accompanied by a product link, which can lead to a brand’s Weibo Store (note: links to Tmall and Taobao are no longer supported).


Weibo ads display banner format


Feed Ads

These ads, which can also take the form of a post, or single-image, plus product link, appear in existing followers’ feeds. They are different to fan headlines, as they are sandwiched between regular feed posts.


Weibo Ads feed ad format


Feed ads can be very effective, because while a certain proportion of users will see headline and display ads, many users will reflexively scroll past them, knowing that it’s going to be advertising. With a feed ad, the chances of being seen by these users is higher. It’s therefore advisable to mix and match, including feed ads alongside other forms.


Destination Page Ads

At certain intervals, including upon opening the app, mobile users of Weibo will be displayed a full-page ad. They can be static images, or short videos, and when clicked can link directly to a product or account. Users have the option to skip these ads, but they normally only last for five-ten seconds, during which time it is sometimes easier just to wait it out. This option provides more freedom to push creative content, given the size and format of the ad.


Weibo Ads destination ad format


Bear in mind that these are much more visually-centered ads. The amount of text included is minimal, as opposed to a standard post-type, which might include several sentences. These ads are best thought of as moving posters.


Search-based Ads

Weibo has an in-built search function that allows for searching among accounts, posts, pages, stores and more. They offer a keyword-based results ads, meaning that a brand’s account, or one of their posts, can ranked higher in search results based on particular search terms; much like Google Adwords or Baidu PPC. The price of these ads varies widely, depending on how common the keywords are, are therefore how many companies are likely to bid for them.


Weibo Ads search-based ad format


Ultimate Weibo Ads Guide Part 2

The above is an overview of all the different ad options available on Weibo. In Part 2 of this guide, we will detail how best to use these tools while targeting an audience on Weibo, how to maximize effective reach, the bidding process, and the account registration process. Stay tuned!


Sekkei Studio is a 13 years old agency that has been helping business around the world to succeed in China through Digital Marketing.

Whether you are planning to launch a Weibo ads campaign or willing to take what has been done already to the next level, drop us a line , we’ll be more than happy to explore and advise about the most suitable approach and best practices to implement.


David Henriques

Digital entrepreneur and co-founder of Sekkei Studio, a digital marketing agency in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong. More than 10 years of experience in helping the communication of foreign companies in China.

SEO China 2022
Baidu Advertising Best Practices

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