While WeChat may have begun as a messaging app, its current form combines life’s essentials into one platform. WeChat seamlessly switches from desktop to mobile and business to fun; ensuring that users never need to open another app. From booking flights, hotels and taxis, to ordering and paying for food, flowers and dry cleaning, there is almost nothing the app can’t do. It’s no wonder that 94% of its 700 million monthly active users log in daily. As the most popular social media platform in the country, any company or brand looking to make an impact in China needs to be on it.
Although WeChat is vastly different to western social media platforms, it comes as no surprise that some of the advertising options are similarly unique. On the more traditional side, WeChat does offer banner advertising through their parent company, TenCent, allowing them to buy display ads across their extended network of websites. But what we are going to focus on is their more unique and effective ad format, moments ads.
Moments ads give advertisers direct access to the user’s timeline. Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms, there is no newsfeed for users to view updates from their entire network on WeChat. This means that users typically view each other’s “moments” page in order to gain updates that haven’t been shared with them already via a direct message or within a group chat.
This is WeChat’s native advertising option as advertisers have the option to place an ad directly within the user’s timeline amongst their other moments posts. Each user’s moments page displays only a single ad at any given time. This lack of competition results in a more pared-pared approach, giving the user lower ad fatigue. The same ad will appear on a user’s moments page for 48 hours. If this user then engages with the ad by clicking and sharing with friends, this signals to WeChat that the ad is a good fit and will begin to place it on the moments pages of similar users, which can lead to ads going viral. On the other hand, if the user doesn’t engage with the ad, then it will run for a minimum of 6 hours before being replaced.
By serving ads on a user’s moments page, the advertiser is granted the opportunity to appear before not only this user, but their close network of friends and family. In order to ensure your ad is served on the page of your target user, WeChat’s audience targeting, as you would expect, is quite sophisticated. Advertisers can target users by location, interests, age, gender, education, marital status, and device. In a mobile-dominated world, this offers companies highly localised opportunities.
Users can also be targeted based on their behaviour within WeChat. You can advertise and even block your account’s followers, friends of followers, and anyone who engages or didn’t engage with your ads.
In order to gain access to advertise, you must first have a verified official account. As part of the application process, advertisers must provide industry-specific certificates to prove their expertise in the area in which they intend to advertise. A foreign business (any company without a registered office in China and official business certificate issued by the Chinese government) must have this process managed for them by a company registered in China. Heard can facilitate this process.
WeChat moments is one of the most effective forms of WeChat advertising and as such, can be relatively expensive. “Gaining access to a highly engaged audience in the country with the largest middle-class population in the world should be incentive enough for any company to take on advertising in China,” says Liam, Heard’s Digital Campaign Strategist.
If the obstacles to advertising as an approved company on WeChat seem insurmountable, advertisers can look to test the waters with a Key Opinion Leader (KOLs) driven campaign. Equivalent to influencers in Australia, but much more influential, KOLs will promote companies and brands in exchange for products, unique experiences and financial remuneration. We’ll explain how companies can run a KOL-driven marketing campaign later on in this series.