Practical Guide To Advertising in China for Beauty Brands

Advertising in China banner

China is the world’s second-largest advertising market, and between 2018 and 2023, it is anticipated to spend over $20 billion on advertising. If you want to get started in digital advertising in China, there’s a lot to know. It is not as simple as translating your marketing strategy for Western consumers to Chinese platforms – advertising in China might result in significant traffic and sales. Still, advertising laws in China may be onerous, especially for foreign businesses.

In this article, we’ll explore all you need to know about advertising in China – from what works best on Chinese platforms to understanding the complex regulatory environment.

Overview of the online advertising environment in the Chinese market

As China is the most prominent advertising market after the US, successful advertising campaigns in China bring significant advertising revenue and traffic.

Paid online advertising refers to advertising on digital distribution channels such as social media like WeChat (China’s dominant mobile app), Douyin (Chinese Tiktok) and Weibo (Chinese Twitter), and third-party mobile ad networks. Paid Search Ads and Display Ads can both be used to promote a product, and China’s advertising regulations do not require companies to get advertising licenses.

Advertising in China: Wechat Paid ads
Chanel Wechat banner advertising

However, advertising in China might result in complicated legal issues due to censorship and advertising law requirements. If you don’t choose or set up your advertising operation well, it may end up wasting money without generating revenue.

The advertising laws in China also vary based on the advertising media, which may require different licenses. Different advertising methods might be subject to censorship, leading to ineffective advertising campaigns. The importance of advertising in China cannot be ignored, but advertising in China requires careful planning to ensure advertising success.

Top social media platforms for paid advertising in China

In 2023, China has more than one billion social media users, or around 70% of its total population. Chinese social media platforms are among China’s best digital advertising platforms with so many users. Here are some of China’s most popular social media sites, each with great advertising opportunities, especially for mobile advertising.

Weibo Paid Advertising

Weibo is one of China’s largest and most popular social media platforms, with over 580 million active users. Its user base is highly engaged, with over 95% of users accessing the platform at least once a day. This makes it an ideal platform for brands looking to connect with Chinese consumers.

Weibo offers a range of paid advertising options for local and foreign companies, including promoted posts, accounts, and videos. These ads can be targeted specifically at Chinese customers based on their interests and demographics, making them highly effective in reaching the right audience.

Advertising in China: Weibo paid ads

Weibo advertising is highly flexible and offers many formats to advertisers:

  • Destination Page ads: The first thing that Weibo users see when opening the app in China market is destination page ads. It is a great way to catch their attention by displaying your product on fullscreen with short, entertaining videos (the ad is skippable)
  • Feeds Ads: Feed ads are very common on Weibo and they allow brands to share content with their followers. These paid posts often appear between users’ followed accounts’ posts and link back to the product or service being advertised.
  • Fan Headline: The most clever way of reaching new customers on Weibo is through fan tunnels. You can use this in order to promote either a specific post or your entire account, which works like a headline appearing at the top of News Feed so that they cannot miss it!
  • Fan Tunnel: A great way to get your message across is by targeting an existing pool of followers on Weibo. This means that not only will they see the post or account but also their friends! The post will appear as “推广” (Promoted), or “热门” (hot) at the top of the feed. Promoted posts are not OTT in China and do not spoil the users’ social experience, it’s not seen as spam.
  • Display Ads: Weibo’s display ads can be found all over the app and on various pages. The size of these advertisements varies by where they’re placed, but each one is optimized for mobile or web viewing alike!
Advertising in China: Weibo advertising

WeChat Paid Advertising

China’s largest social media app WeChat has 1.2 billion monthly active users. The advertising opportunities with WeChat are endless if you have the budget and it’s one of the most popular platforms in the Chinese advertising market, thanks to its huge user base.

Promotions can target people in 18 different interest groups based on their age, interests, profession, relationship status, the location where they spend most of their time, and other factors.

WeChat is a very versatile platform and offers many different types of ad formats that you can use to promote your brand. You can run image-based ads, video ads, or even interactive voice ads, you can also collaborate with Key Opinion Leaders. And since WeChat offers such a wide range of ad formats, you can customize your ads to match the specific needs of your business, target audience, and digital ad spending.

Advertising in China: WeChat banner ads

There are three main advertising formats for international businesses on WeChat:

  • WeChat Moments Ads are a form of advertising that allows businesses to post images or videos to users’ Moments feeds. These ads can be targeted to specific demographics and can include a call-to-action button that allows users to learn more about the product or service being advertised.
  • WeChat Banner Ads: The banner is made of a logo, account name, and headline. When clicked it takes the user to another page containing additional information about this brand/product (Footer ads (底部广告) – a banner placed below a WeChat article with a call-to-action button/ Pre-scrolling video ads (视频贴片广告) – Pre-roll ads in a video/ Exchange ads (互选广告) – Exchange ads are similar to footer ads. The major difference is that exchange ads may be presented in a larger card format with a call-to-action button.)
  • WeChat Mini-Program Ads: They are similar to banner ads, but are displayed in WeChat mini-programs instead of articles. They can show either when opening a mini-program, or during scrolling, etc.
China skincare market case study GMA

Douyin Paid Advertising

The rise of Douyin is reshaping how information flows online. With more than 700 million daily active users in China as well as an entire empire built on technology and artificial intelligence, this app has become one for businesses to consider when advertising their products or services within the country’s borders.

To get ahead of the competition, many international famous brands have joined Douyin in order to develop their online community e-reputation and make themselves more visible. Douyin social media advertising is very useful, especially for brands targetting younger consumers, that don’t check traditional advertising anymore.

Advertising in China: Douyin advertising

Brands usually chose between three online advertising options on the platform:

  • Open Screen Ads: Open Screen advertisements are displayed every time an application is opened. Open Screen ads come in two forms: static in poster or dynamic in video. Dynamic ads are displayed for between four and five seconds, while static ads last for three seconds. This type of ad has a strong visual impact and is free from interference.
  • Feed ads: Brands have the option to promote short videos ranging from 5-60 seconds. These videos are then displayed in the native ad format in the Douyin feed. Advertising agencies can integrate it into the Douyin flow. Feed announcements are also free from interference. Stream ads enable users to share advertising content on social media with their friends. It spreads brand awareness across multiple platforms.
  • Sticker Ads: Brands have the ability to create customized stickers for promoting their products or company. These stickers can be added to video clips by users, allowing them to create engaging and funny content. Sticker ads can be used to inspire others and increase their reach.

Toutiao Native Ads

Toutiao is China’s most popular content-based advertising platform. It has 120M daily active users and 400M monthly active users, with a solid advertising product. Advertisers can create advertising posts for as low as RMB 2 CPM (1,000 advertising views). Only advertising posts that have been “approved” will be displayed to users, so there is no concern about low-quality advertising appearing on your feed.

Toutiao native advertising allows advertisers to target advertising by interest. You can even show advertising posts to readers of your official account on Toutiao, but this will require joining a certified advertising platform like AdMaster.

Advertising in China: Toutiao native ads

There are 3 types of paid ads available on Toutiao:

  • Takeover Ads: shown on fullscreen upon opening the app
  • Streaming Feed Ads HTML2_ video format advertisements that seamlessly blend into the users’ feed to provide a seamless experience.
  • Feed Ads Feed ads are displayed in users’ feeds. They come in many formats. This type of advertisement supports CTA and can redirect users to other apps.

Zhihu Paid Advertising

A Q&A platform like Quora, but with more of a focus on Chinese culture and the local Chinese community. Zhihu has 99 million monthly active users and 23 million daily active users.

For advertising on Zhihu, advertisers can target users based on their interests and knowledge.

This is one of the most intriguing features for brands and marketers. The advertising revenue of Zhihu grew by nearly 50% between June 2020 and June 2022.

The app’s potential to reach wealthy and well-educated customers is being recognized by more and more brands. Let’s take a look at some native ads that you will see on Zhihu.

Different types of native ads include:

  • Open-screen ads
  • Pop-up ads located on the main page
  • Banner ads on the main page
  • Trending topics text/card ads
  • News Feed banner/video ads are usually found in the third spot of the user’s newsfeed
  • Advertisements on the page for the chosen question/answer
Advertising in China: Zhihu advertising

Baidu Paid Advertising

If you have an advertising budget, advertising on Baidu is a must for your China advertising strategy. The core audience of Baidu (the most popular among Chinese search engines) is Internet users between 25-49 years old.

Many entrepreneurs use PPC advertising to promote their business online in China. Because the cost per click (CPC) is low, many companies can afford to buy advertising to reach massive audiences.

However, advertising on Baidu can be complicated, even for digital marketing agencies. The price is based on keyword bidding and competition for advertising space. Due to the sometimes complicated nature of advertising on Baidu, it is best to use services that automate advertising.

While advertising may be confusing, advertising on Baidu can drive traffic and sales. If you are advertising in China, advertising on Baidu should be one of your top advertising strategies.

Advertising in China: Baidu ad types
  • Baidu Tuigang: Baidu Tuigang, a China-based company, offers PPC advertising. This includes formats and services like ProTheme (Pay for placement (P4P), Baidu TV, Information Feed Ads) and Baidu TV. In many ways, it is similar to Google Adwords or Bing Ads. Baidu Tuigang’s PPC advertising platform allows you to promote your products and services through search engine results pages, as well as on any other websites in the Baidu Ecosystem.
  • Baidu Brand Zone: This Baidu Brand Zone Page is dedicated to one company and highlights all information about them. This page includes links to their websites, social media pages, and online stores. They can then be promoted easily!
Advertising in China: Baidu PPC ads

General Regulation for Advertising in China

China’s advertising laws and regulations in China are not as simple as advertising in the US or Europe. Before advertising in China, check to ensure there aren’t any prohibitions or restrictions on what you can advertise due to local rules and regulations under Chinese law.

Specifically, advertising must meet three main requirements:

(1) it must adhere to Chinese advertising laws;

(2) it must not endanger national security; and

(3) it must not harm public interests.

Under China’s advertising law, advertising is the transmission of information to the public through media by a business entity or individual to promote products or services. This includes advertising online, advertising on mobile devices, advertising on billboards, etc. Chinese advertising laws are typically more stringent when advertising online.

To ensure that your advertising campaign complies with Chinese law, please see the Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China.

wechat advertising moment ad
WeChat Moments advertising

We Are Your China Advertising Agency!

Advertising in China can be a lucrative endeavor, but it is not challenging. Advertising laws in China are often onerous for foreign businesses. Understanding these laws and how they might impact your advertising strategy before entering the Chinese market is essential.

Additionally, Chinese consumers have different preferences than Western consumers regarding advertising. Understanding these preferences is necessary if you want your advertising efforts to succeed in China.

Contact GMA

With the right advertising strategy, advertising in China can be an excellent strategy for companies looking to access the Chinese market.

Contact us, we have solutions to help grow your brand in China through not only paid advertising but also SEO, Social media, PR, and so on. Let’s start today!

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