Of all the social media platforms in China, nothing is more famous, well-known, or used than WeChat.
With 1.15 billion active monthly users, it’s safe to presume that most people use WeChat. In my personal experience, every Chinese friend and family member I know under the age of 70 uses it to chat, do business and meetings, shop, and even buy vegetables.
To know more about how to use WeChat, read our blog: A Tour of WeChat – China’s Super-App.
With such a huge user base, no wonder WeChat shares ads with those users.
There are so many different types of advertisements on the platform. You’ll find them on
- Official banners
- Mini programs
Today, we will look at newsfeed ads with heavy social attributes—WeChat Moments ads.
WeChat Moments Ads
We should first explain a few things about WeChat Moments.
WeChat Moments is an Instagram-like feed where you can see and keep up to date with what’s happening in the lives of your friends.
Each user has a profile, and you can share posts in the following formats:
- Articles from WeChat Official Accounts.
The things you share on Moments will appear in the newsfeed of your friends, family members, and colleagues.
And if you add the fruit store owner or fitness coach as your WeChat friends, you can also see them doing business and selling their products in Moments.
On January 21, 2015, a post with six text pictures and links from the “WeChat Team” appeared in every user’s feed.
This was the moment WeChat unveiled Moments ads to users as the next important advertising feature on the platform.
Before WeChat ventured into this space, users were already familiar with this advertising model on Weibo, QQ space, and other platforms. When users refresh news, advertisements (in the form of images and videos) appear in the newsfeed.
This type of advertising has strong interactivity, allowing users to comment, like, and forward. On top of all this, it can intelligently screen and launch according to user regions, usage habits, and other factors.
The latter plays a very important role in a brand’s online marketing promotion strategy.
The First Wave of Moments Ads
On the evening of January 25, 2015, BMW, Vivo, and Coca-Cola appeared as the first batch of Moments advertisements.
Nobody really knows for sure, but people speculate that these ads cost the three companies a minimum of 5 million RMB each.
However, after several years of development, WeChat Moments ads have changed dramatically in terms of adjusting the entry threshold, bidding mode, advertising style, and creative requirements.
Currently, the access threshold and placement requirements for advertisements have been lowered. Overseas entities are now allowed to apply for accounts, and the initial investment amount is now a much more “affordable” 7,000 RMB.
However, the review and qualification of Moments ads are among the strictest in the industry. To set up the account, you need to
- have a WeChat Official Account verified with your company’s business license;
- ensure your industry is allowed to apply, and that you have enough licenses. Check the industry requirements here: Industries allowed to set up WeChat ads, and
- already have at least two articles on your Official Account.
Then, let’s see what we can do with the Moments ads.
How Does It Work?
When Moments ads first appeared, to avoid affecting the user experience, the rule was that the same user could only see one advertisement within 24 hours.
In 2019, this rule was adjusted from one to two within 24 hours. For comparison, this article mentions that “…21.2% of posts in users’ feed on Facebook are comprised of advertisements.”
Although more advertisements will lead to a negative user experience, for advertisers, the probability of being seen by users increases.
Statistics from WeChat show that, on average, each user opens Moments more than seven times a day. Therefore, with such a high-reading frequency, if you place your creative ad copy into their newsfeed, it will have a good chance of being seen.
Similar to other newsfeed ads, advertisers need to create advertising plans, advertisements, and ad copy.
Moments ads can come in pictures, images, videos, or even a merchandise window. At a first glance, the post looks similar to a friend’s, so users don’t feel like they’re being spammed by companies.
Merchandise Window Type
When the user clicks the advertisement’s button, picture, or link, the page will jump to the advertiser’s
- WeChat Official Account,
- H5 page, or
Below is an example of a Moments ad.
When the user clicks the red “Follow to get a coupon,” a button will appear on the WeChat Official Account, which allows the user to follow the account.
The Bidding Model
You have two options: Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or optimized cost per thousand impressions (OCPM).
CPM is a common way to measure/charge for advertising, and we usually use this model because it gives us more control.
With OCPM, you can set up your target cost per click (CPL), and the system will adjust the bid for you, but sometimes the cost is higher. The price of CPM/OCPM varies according to different industries, target groups, and launch conditions.
If you set your targeting too precisely, your bid will be very high, especially if you are doing B2B marketing and your goal is to collect users’ information via forms. In this case, the CPM could be 30 RMB or more.
In addition to setting the active period (when the ads will run), they can also be filtered according to the user’s
- location (province, city, and district),
- educational background,
- interest/behavior, and
- marital and childcare status.
We can also filter the users depending on their mobile phone’s
- operating system,
- operator/provider, and
- networking mode (Wi-Fi, 5G, 4G).
You can even “re-target” the users who used to be interested in your ads but didn’t follow your WeChat Official Account.
On top of this, you may use the “exclude marketing” function, which stops you from wasting money on showing advertisements to users who already follow your account.
User interests and behaviors are also worth discussing, which usually comes from the “big data” often mentioned in marketing. This means the advertising platform will analyze and judge the user’s behavior, and label them accordingly.
When targeting specific types of users, it is only necessary to filter them according to these labels.
To give you an example: Suppose I need advertising to promote an American university. My target group could be 14–30-year-olds interested in studying abroad, or those who have browsed accounts related to the subject.
I may have gathered some data (through Google Ad results and student enrollments) and found that many potential users come from first-tier Chinese cities. Based on these findings, I would set the locations to Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
To let advertisers get closer to the users exploring higher education and international study options, I can set the target type to educational background: high school, undergraduate degree, and master’s degree.
After this setting, we can see the
- general user “population,”
- CPM recommended by the system (but we usually won’t use the recommendation [since it’s really high]; instead, we will adjust the bid manually), and
- population expected to be exposed to the ads in a single day.
If these people meet my expectations, the next step is submitting creative ad copy.
However, it is important to remember that big data is sometimes inaccurate. Suppose a user frequently browses the information about studying abroad because they’re interested in working in that industry. They fit the profile of our target user; however, they are not our intended audience because they don’t want to actually study abroad.
In this situation, they may directly close or choose “not interested” after seeing our advertisement.
This situation is inevitable with any form of newsfeed advertisement. So, there’s no need to be too critical of the results.
Should I try Moments Ads?
- The user base of WeChat is huge.
- Useful targeting options.
- The ad copy shares a similar format to the users’ own posts. If your ad copy is creative, it will cause users to forward (share them) and comment under the ads.
- Charge based on CPM.
- The competition is fierce. Remember: Many advertisers are competing with you for traffic.
- Strict qualification and creativity approval.
- Compared with Baidu ads, the CPL may be more expensive than you think (and it will take longer to convert).
- Might be affected by what’s happening globally (e.g., COVID-19) or locally (e.g., shopping festivals). During a shopping festival promotion, eCommerce advertisers may steal some of your user traffic.
- If the filters are too detailed, it is more difficult for the ad to reach your target audience.
If you are unfazed by any of the potential disadvantages that may come with WeChat Moments ads, then I really recommend you try them (especially if your industry is education).
If you work for an international university or a school, you can use ads to collect information about potential students or attract followers to your WeChat Official Account to expand the school’s influence.
In a B2B industry, you can use ads to collect customer information and promote special events.
Education – Budapest Metropolitan University
Budapest Metropolitan University is a new private university established as a merger of smaller universities and colleges around 10 years ago.
We used Moments ads to expand brand awareness and gain more followers before promoting the school and its programs to potential students. What we did:
- Created multiple creatives for a young target audience.
- Used text-picture and videos in ad copy of the school.
- Designed the users’ auto-reply and follow auto-reply to improve the user experience.
- Adjusted and published WeChat articles to suit the new followers (and make sure the new followers stay with us).
During its recruiting season, Budapest Metropolitan University gained one hundred new followers within two months. The reasonable strategy helped find targeted users and brought in high-quality inquiries.
The page after the user clicks the ad copy
B2B – CrimsonLogic
CrimsonLogic is a leading SaaS company providing trade, supply chain, and digital government solutions. Combining innovative new tech and expert knowledge of global trade laws and regulations, CrimsonLogic provides trade compliance logistics solutions to trading companies.
CrimsonLogic’s goal was to increase the number of inquiries and brand awareness in China.
Our WeChat Moments ads strategy targets users of foreign trade, import and export, and the eCommerce industry.
During the three-month promotion, we
- created multiple ad copies and H5 pages to collect user contact forms;
- added an online customer service function;
- set up independent creatives and H5 pages for an offline event during special promotions; and
- answered user questions promptly.
The promotion brought in a total of seven leads, with a CPL of 147 USD. A follow-up communication with the customer confirmed that four of the seven were high-quality leads.
Do you have any questions about WeChat Moments ads or anything I’ve mentioned today? Please leave any questions in the comments section below.
For everything else China or China marketing-related, there’s our China Digital Marketing 101 page.