China presents a huge opportunity for brands looking to expand their market in other countries. Platforms like Tmall Global and JD.com allow foreign retailers to set up and sell in the China market easily. However, the advertising landscape in a new country can be confusing. After you decide that you want to sell in China, you also need to figure out how to advertise your business in China.
- Which channels should foreign companies advertise on?
- Are certain channels more suited for certain campaign goals?
- What psychographic factors can you use for segmentation?
- What are the pros and cons of the different Chinese digital platforms?
In this post, we’ll get into all these questions and share how to select the right channels for advertising your business as well as the advantages and disadvantages of top China digital platforms.
Questions to ask while selecting media channels
When it comes to setting up your ad campaign strategy in China, the 3 most important aspects to take into account are the aim, audience and budget of the campaign.
What is the objective of the campaign?
Who is the ad campaign targeting – mass or niche audience?
Where is the target audience for the campaign located?
What kind of budget do you need to run the campaign?
Based on the answer to these questions, certain channels will be more suited than others.
Customer journey and goals to keep in mind
The customer journey and lifecycle stage are important aspects that determine the goals of a campaign. Based on which stage of the customer journey you are focused on, your campaign goals will differ.
Brand and product awareness stage
The goal is to get the product exposed to a huge audience. From the advertiser point of view, the goal is to reach a large volume of people. You want people to know the brand.
For example – An automobile company could advertise a new model of car to the China audience. You could target broad categories such as moms, car enthusiastic men, etc. The goal of the campaign is to get people to remember the brand name.
The goal is to build a long term relationship with the audience. You want to build interest and get people to trust the brand. The ads aren’t focused on making a sale. The budgets are smaller than awareness campaigns since the target audience size to be reached is smaller.
Here the target is people who already have a need for the product or have shown the intention to buy the product.
For example – A potential customer who has decided on buying a car but haven’t decided which one to buy yet. So currently the behavioural intent shows that they are interested in certain brands. For example: You can target moms who are also interested in cars, car enthusiasts who prefer luxury grade cars, and so on. The focus of the campaign is to build a long-term relationship and trust.
These campaigns are focused on reaching people who are ready to buy. The goal of the campaign is to generate leads or sell. The target audience has already shortlisted what they want to buy and is comparing brands.
Example – A potential customer who has decided to buy a Tesla vs another brand of car. To reach such an audience, the focus of the campaign could be a call to action for test driving the car. The kind of targeting you can do includes:
- Ads promising free baby seat fitting in new cars, targeting moms of 3-6 years old who are interested in cars, live in 3 specific cities where the dealership has stores and they are shown the ads when they are at home.
- 25 to 35-year-old men who are car enthusiasts, preferring luxury grade cars, they are in the top 20% of consumption in China, are single, and they are shown the ads while at work.
Top channels for advertising your business in China
The next aspect to keep in mind while deciding how to advertise your business in China is the media type. There are 4 kinds of media types that are available in China – News info, Social, Search and Video.
News info and Video
News info and video channels target based on the user’s behaviour.
Search channels target based on what you searched online. This is the most precise- targeting since it is based on user searches.
Social channels target based on relationships. Which accounts you follow, what you liked and shared, interactions with pages on social media platforms.
Advertising channel breakdown and pros & cons
Let’s take a look at the top digital channels you can use to market in China. We’ve created a cheat sheet that gives an easy overview of each channel and the goals and audience that are most suited for it. Three thumbs up represent that the Aim and Audience are most suited for that particular channel.
‘Jinri Toutiao’ which translates to ‘Today’s Headline’ in Chinese is a content aggregator that aims to utilize big data and sophisticated algorithms to gradually learn and ‘push’ relevant content that users will enjoy.
It’s the biggest news info platform in China.
Has a large and sticky user base, mainly in 2nd and 3rd tier cities
- Uses sophisticated algorithms
- Supports OCPM, OCPC and CPA which takes care of optimizing your targeting
- Has an open ecosystem which means you can jump from Toutiao to a marketplace like Taobao which helps in conversion
- The cost of getting started on Toutiao can be high
Recommend for: Finance, Lifestyle, Gaming, App industries
WeChat is the biggest social media in China also known as a super app because of its multiple functionalities.
WeChat has the advantage of being a leader in social media channels. It boasts of a large user base with more than 1 billion active users. Also, users of WeChat are more active and sticky which makes them suitable for brand promotion.
- Supports share and like function, highly interactive
- Supports OCPC and OCPM
- A closed ecosystem limited on where you can send traffic to outside the ecosystem.
Recommended for: Local service, Luxury, Life, Travel industries
Baidu is the biggest search engine in China. It has the lowest minimum ad spend requirement. This is why Baidu is one of the top channels to get started with advertising in China.
It’s one of the top 3 websites in China by traffic.
- Based on search and keywords targeting
- Most precise targeting
- Highly relied on keywords, other targeting attributes alone do not work well
Recommended for: No limitations. Good for small and medium-sized companies with a limited budget.
Douyin is the biggest short video platform in China with a young, active and addictive user base. It’s the Chinese version of the popular app ‘Tiktok’.
- Provides large exposure in a short duration
- Good for a new brand
- High cost
- High requirement on creative as you need to create video ads
- Limitations on industry
Recommended for: Gaming, App, Automotive industries
Each of these top advertising platforms has its pros and cons. Selecting the channels based on your aims, goals and budgets ensure that you will see the best results. We hope this gave you a good overview of all the top channels available in China. Got more questions? Leave a comment below to let us know!