The Complete Guide to WeChat Advertising in the U.S.
Why You Need to Consider WeChat in Your Marketing Strategy
WeChat is a social media giant with over 1.15 billion users worldwide. Based in China and a mainstay in Chinese communities within the U.S., the app boasts 3.3 million active monthly users here in the United States. WeChat's focused Chinese user base sets it apart from other similar social platforms and makes the app uniquely attractive for certain marketing strategies. For businesses that want to reach a Chinese demographic, WeChat advertising provides an option with an audience reach that simply can't be matched with Facebook or Google.
An executive order that was scheduled to ban downloads and network support of WeChat left many users and advertisers worried. Presently, the executive order has been stayed by an injunction from a federal judge. It has yet to be determined whether executive action against the app will be upheld. Regardless of the outcome, WeChat will continue to function for users who have already downloaded the app though speeds may slow as service will only be supported by international network servers. One thing, however, is clear: WeChat remains entrenched in Chinese American communities as a form of communication and social media. For the foreseeable future, WeChat will remain an important advertising platform for businesses seeking to reach this demographic.
Ad Targeting Options
U.S. businesses advertising on WeChat have access to more limited options compared to their Chinese based counterparts, but the platform still supports sufficiently robust targeting settings for most cases.
The Ad targeting options on WeChat generally allow filtering across 7 core variables.
Location | no state or regional differentiation within the United States
Gender | male or female
Age | 5-60 years old
Marital Status | single, married, newly married, or raising child
Maximum Education Level Attained | doctorate, caster’s, bachelor’s, high school, or primary school.
Industry | 8 industry categories and 122 sub-categories available. Targetable categories include bags, cars, children’s education, cosmetics, drinks, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, food & beverage, furniture, internet, jewelry, luxury goods, health, home electronics, personal services, politics & law, professional services, real estate, shoes, sports, travel, and watches.
WeChat Behavior | options to filter for those following your public account, using your app, have used a WeChat coupon from an advertisement in the past year, engaged with your previous advertisements in the past year, and also give the ability to filter out users who are not interested in your content
Who Should Use WeChat Ads
While WeChat ads can be incredibly powerful, they're not for everyone. WeChat ads outside of China have limited targeting options, particularly in regard to location targeting. For businesses that want to advertise within the U.S., more refined location filtering options are not available. This means that only businesses that cater to a larger U.S. market will be able to truly optimize their ROI with WeChat ads. This means regional restaurants or in-person service businesses won't be able to ensure that interest generated from ads can be converted to real business leads.
This isn't to say local or regional businesses won't be able to tap into the platform's advertising potential. WeChat also supports advertising with Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) which offers a greater degree of regional targeting. for your ads. Read more on these below.
What does WeChat Marketing Look Like?
There are three main areas where you can advertise on WeChat as well as Tencent’s answer to influencer marketing, Key Opinion Leader Advertising.
WeChat Official Accounts
Advertising in WeChat Mini Programs
Key Opinion Leader Advertising
Ads on WeChat Moments
WeChat Moments are the most intuitive and familiar form of advertising on the platform. These types of ads show up in the app user's Moments feed and behave much like conventional facebook feed ads.
Advertiser's logo and official account name | Much like with Facebook, clicking this will take you to the linked Official Account of the publisher.
Ad Description | 40 character limit and and 4 line limit
Photo or Video Creative Content | Photos posts can support multiple images (1/3/4/6), while videos support a 6-15 second length with and aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9. This video can link to a full video up to 5 minutes in length upon click and can also support an external link.
External Link (Call to Action) | The external link can take the viewer to a new landing page where more information can be found.
Comment Section | This areas allows for user engagement through comments and likes.
Why They're Great:
These forms of ads appear in WeChat Moments, the most popular activity on the app. Moments ads will appear like native content with only a label in the top right identifying the post as an ad. These ads also offer the most flexibility for visual design and content customization with the ability to include 6-15 images
For businesses advertising in the United States, WeChat demographic targeting options are somewhat limited. While gender, age, hobbies, and remarketing are supported, WeChat does not differentiate locations within the United States. This means US advertisers won't be able to target ads by location.
Who Should Use WeChat Moments Ads:
With plenty of options for large form videos and images in an unassuming native format, ads promoting products with strong visuals will find the most success with Moments ads.
Ads on WeChat Official Accounts
Ads displayed on official accounts can take 2 forms: banner ads and short video clips. These banner ads and video clips can appear mid-article or at the bottom of articles published by official accounts.
Why They're Great:
Ads on official accounts excel in driving traffic to specific campaigns such as coupons or app downloads or even in generating follower growth for your account. These tend to be cheaper than Moments ads, but slightly more expensive than ads within Mini Programs.
While cost of acquisition is generally lower for official accounts ads, they also display in less desirable and more intrusive locations. As a result, these forms of ads tend to generate lower quality followers compared to Moments ads. Like Moments ads, the ad targeting for ads on official accounts won't allow for location based targeting within the U.S.
Who Should Use Official Account Ads:
WeChat official account ads are a fantastic choice for building followers or bolstering the performance of specific campaigns, particularly when paired with the right design, messaging, or promotion.
Ads on WeChat Mini Programs
Mini Programs are lightweight apps that exist within WeChat. These apps can allow users to browse videos, edit photos, shop online, play games and more. Though they had a slow start, Mini Programs have since been embraced by brands and users alike. There are 3 types of Mini Program ads. These ads can appear as banner ads, pop up image ads, or incentive video clips that play over gaming Mini Programs.
Why They're Great:
When comparing follower acquisition costs, Mini Programs are generally the cheapest among the three ad types offered by Tencent.
While businesses will have access to similar ad targeting options to ads displayed in Moments official accounts. Businesses can select general app categories where there ads are displayed (such as gaming, tools, or stores), but specific apps cannot be selected.
Who Should Use Mini Program Ads:
Mini Program ads tend to have the cheapest user acquisition cost. At the same time, ads in Mini Programs are arguably the most intrusive form of advertising on the platform. This can mean that leads may be of an even lower quality than those on Official Accounts. For limited budgets, Mini Programs offer an inexpensive way to build a following base for WeChat official accounts.
Another Approach to Advertising on WeChat: Key Opinion Leader (KOL) Advertising
Key opinion leader (KOL) advertising is the equivalent of influencer marketing on instagram. The primary difference is that Tencent will oversee the collaboration and collect a fee. Tencent will pair businesses that are interested in KOL advertising with relevant local Key Opinion Leaders based on your advertising goals. Both parties will have final say in deciding if the partnership is suitable. The final price will also be determined between the business and Key Opinion Leader.
Why They're Great:
For unestablished brands, KOL’s offer much needed credibility and for established brands they can help drive sales. Much like influencers on instagram, key opinion leaders will often cultivate a more focused audience group and give advertisers the unique ability to target their ads to locations within the U.S. Ultimately, partnering with the right KOL can ensure that you're reaching your targeted audience and lead to higher ROI for your campaign.
Depending on the KOL, pricing can vary greatly and can be much less predictable than other forms of advertising on WeChat. Finding the perfect KOL is as vitally important as it is challenging. For best results, we recommend that you work with an experienced marketing agency to help you find the right KOL and tailor your campaign to yield the optimal results.
Who Should Use Key Opinion Leader Advertising:
KOL advertising provides the only advertising option with the potential to target audiences based on locations within the United States. Additionally, unestablished businesses with low recognition may seek to leverage the credibility of the Key Opinion Leaders.
How to Start Advertising Using WeChat
To advertise on WeChat you'll need to first set up an official WeChat account. This is the equivalent of an official business page on Facebook as opposed to a personal user account. Unfortunately, the process for creating an official account can be very complicated if your business is not based in China. Businesses seeking to advertise on WeChat will need to seek the assistance of an officially certified advertising service provider such as Universal Processing’s Marketing Service.