WeChat, China’s biggest social media platform, has quickly become a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. And while WeChat’s organic reach can be quite valuable, many brands are turning to its paid advertising options. But is it worth it? In this article, we take a closer look at WeChat paid to advertise and explore the pros and cons of this marketing channel.
Who Should Be Using WeChat Advertising?
Every business looking to break into the Chinese consumer market should have WeChat advertising in the Chinese marketing strategy. More specifically, any brand that wants to target consumers in China’s top-tier cities needs WeChat ads.
Besides brands who wish to concentrate their efforts on cities, brands that target a younger demographic will also benefit from WeChat ads. Examples of brands that cater to adults aged 18 to 40 are sports, tech, beauty, and fashion.
For many of these brands, the platform of choice needed to be present on every smartphone. WeChat is an all-in-one app that is present in at least 1.2 billion smartphones, making it the app with the highest penetration rate in China.
In short, any brand that wishes to broaden its consumer base in China should use WeChat advertising.
However, there are cons.
- Pricey – for instance, the minimum budget investment for Wechat moment is 50K RMB. The price depends on the cities you are targetting. The higher the cities in China’s tier system, the more Tencent will charge you for your ad campaign.
- The target for advertising companies is limited on Wechat
- User engagement is somewhat low if you are not a big brand
- Advertising on moments is limited. Individual users will be shown 1 specific moment ad on their user timeline per every 24H.
Are There Restrictions for WeChat Advertising?
In China, all paid ad activity is monitored you’ll have to follow rules that may hinder your advertising capacity. For this reason, there are some things brands cannot advertise using WeChat, or any platform for that matter.
There are 122 sub-categories Industrie available, however, some cannot advertise their products in China. Among them are:
- Medical products
- Sex products
- Auction companies
- Pharmaceutical products
Some industries can advertise on WeChat but with strict conditions:
- B2B companies in the financial industry (tech or services)
- Legal services
Besides the regulation of certain industries, there are also prohibitions on certain content, words, and phrases in ads. The list is expansive. Here are some:
- Winnie the Pooh
- Anything about Tibet, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
- The Dalai Lama
The Chinese government continues to add more words to the list. It is for this reason that seeking legal counsel and a Chinese marketing agency is key to your Chinese marketing strategy.
Furthermore, you need a WeChat Official Account for any form of advertising on WeChat.
Can Foreign Beauty Brands Sign Up for WeChat Advertising?
The short answer to this question is “yes.” In fact, brands like Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal have already penetrated the cosmetics and beauty market through WeChat and other platforms in China.
However, it’s difficult for foreign beauty brands to quickly start advertising on WeChat.
By default, WeChat advertising is open to domestic brands. All these brands have to do is sign up and have their accounts verified by the platform. Once the verification process is complete, they will be able to use different WeChat ad options like Moments Ads, Banner Ads, and Mini-Programs. Of course, part of the process is an initial investment, which we shall cover later.
Unfortunately, for overseas brands to have WeChat accounts, the signup process is different. These brands need to get in touch with the platform and request permission to advertise.
The Three WeChat Ad Options
Currently, WeChat has three ad options available to marketers who wish to promote their brands on the platform. These ads options differ in how they appear and their costs. The selection of a WeChat ad type must be based on your budget.
Here are the three options in greater detail, including their price and the pros and cons of each ad:
WeChat Moments Advertising: Visibility and Users Engagement
The WeChat Moments ad is the go-to option for large companies. The reason for this comes down to how Moments ads present an advertisement.
Moments Ads appear as prominent advertisements that take up an entire panel of a feed. A Moments Ad is large enough to occupy a portion of a newsfeed with eye-catching media and clickable elements. For this reason, any product or brand promoted with a WeChat Moments ad tends to get more clicks compared to those advertised using the other options.
Moment Advertising Cost
For the visibility it delivers, the Moments Ad is the most expensive of the three ads options. Upfront, the minimum investment you would have to pay for this option is around 50,000 RMB. This is equal to roughly $10,000. This amount gets you scheduled ads, meaning that your Moments ad appears recurrently at certain times of the day.
An alternative payment scheme for Moments ads is the bid-by-impression scheme. Under this payment scheme, you pay 50 RMB or $7.90 (as per the conversion at the time of writing) per day.
Big brands are usually the users of Moments Ads due to the high costs of advertising. Nevertheless, the steep price is almost always worth it for the visibility WeChat Moments ads provide.
Feed Ads in Users Subscription Folder
The subscription folder of Wechat is where WeChat users can access the content published by WeChat’s subscription account. This folder presents itself like a feed (rather similar to moment) and ads are displayed between official account content as seen in the picture below.
banner advertising: More Affordable, Smaller, and Not the Best for Brand Awareness
WeChat Banner ads are not as efficient as WeChat Moments ads at targetting Chinese users and will also grant you less visibility but allow you to run affordable ad campaigns. These ads resemble small, banner-like advertisements. They don’t occupy a large portion of a WeChat feed but are at the bottom.
Banner ads are an excellent way to both promote products and ease consumers into your sales funnel — especially since they’re clickable. WeChat configures these banners to redirect consumers to your landing or sales page. As a result, the chances of conversion increase even if it is, at times, at the expense of the brand awareness Moments ads confer.
They come in various formats and displayed locations (Footer ads (底部广告)/ Pre-scrolling video ads (视频贴片广告)/Exchange ads (互选广告)). They can send users to WeChat official accounts, WeChat store, store page, and external links)
Influencers Banner Ads campaign
Collaboration with influencers has become crucial to succeed in China and this is what Kol influencers’ banner ads offer you. Work the same way as banner advertising except they are published on account of influential WeChat personalities. it allows you to target more efficiently the type of audience that will see your ad campaign.
Banner Ads Cost
Banner ads are more affordable than Moments ads. At the time of writing, WeChat set the price of scheduled Banner ads at around 1,000 RMB per day. In USD, this is roughly $157. Hence, for Banner ads to appear at least once daily for a month, expect to pay at least $4,710. Alternatively, the bid-by-impression price of Banner ads is similar to that of Moments ads at about $7.90 per day per ad.
This makes it more affordable for small and medium beauty brands. Nonetheless, bear in mind that it may not be the best option if your WeChat advertising strategy has brand awareness at its core.
Wechat Mini-program/Mini-game Ads: Excellent User Engagement and Price — But Less Visible
WeChat Mini-program ads run within WeChat as smaller apps. Within the platform itself, mini-programs or mini-games already exist. This means they require no installation, so many WeChat users have experienced convenience with these apps and the ads on them.
WeChat Mini-program ads cost 1,000 RMB or $157 to publish on a daily scheduled scheme. However, if you wish to pay for your ads per day, you can for $7.90 a day.
Mini-programs or mini-games are an excellent way to advertise in a way that keeps WeChat users engaged. Mini-games are particularly good at providing your brand with an opportunity to “gamify” the presentation of your product. However, these are within apps in the WeChat ecosystem. As a result, Mini-program ads target only app users instead of everyone who uses WeChat.
Requirements and Steps for Publishing WeChat Ads If You Are a Foreign Brand
Beauty brands can begin using WeChat to advertise and promote their brand as soon as they sign up for a business account. The business account application and the sign-up process will vary. More specifically, it varies based on where a brand is.
If the brand has a legal entity in China, the process is faster. However, foreign brands with no Chinese presence can expect the application process to take weeks.
Chinese companies can begin the sign-up process and proceed to verification. Following verification, domestic brands can begin advertising after they have paid the initial ad investment. This will depend on which option they choose.
On the other hand, if you are an overseas brand looking to use WeChat advertising, here are the steps:
1. Get Your Documents Together
Given China’s strict advertising laws, WeChat verifies every business that signs onto its platform for advertising. Foreign businesses are no exception. If you are registering outside the mainland, you will need to gather the following:
- A copy of your business license
- Your business contact details
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
Essentially, compile any documents that will prove the existence of your business. The more documents you can present in your application, the better.
2. Prepare Financially Based on the Ad You Will Choose
Having about $500 on the side is safe. Consider this the minimum investment you need to pay upfront. Of course, if you are choosing the Moments ad, you will need about $10,000 to get started.
In other words, prepare financially based on which WeChat ads you are selecting.
3. Go To WeChat’s Site
Once you visit the site, look for the “Contact Us” page. This is where you can ask for more information about signing up for a WeChat business account.
Once you get a response, you will receive step-by-step instructions on the registration and verification process for foreign businesses.
Be aware that this process takes time. The verification process can take weeks.
4. Select Your WeChat Business Account
Not all WeChat business accounts are the same. There are three different types from which you can choose. These are Service, Subscription, and Enterprise accounts. Use a wechat agency to guide you through the process.
Of course, different businesses will flourish on different business accounts. For you, however, we would recommend the Service business account as it gives you access to WeChat’s advanced features. On top of that, you also get access to e-commerce integrations like payment APIs and push notifications.
Contact us to Set up your Wechat Advertising Strategy
We have 10+ years of experience with not only Wechat Advertising but also digital marketing for China. Contact us now to get a free consultation.