How to start WeChat Advertising

How to Start WeChat Advertising in 2024: The Ultimate Guide

Start WeChat advertising today and boost your business in China and around the world. Reach millions of Chinese consumers with ample spending money and position your brand at the top of their wishlist.

On WeChat Advertising, the Chinese marketing experts of the Nanjing Marketing Group condense their 15 years of on-the-ground experience and reveal all you must know about unlocking the potential of this “super app” for your brand.

We are aware that navigating the Chinese market and understanding the unique features of WeChat can be challenging for non-Chinese companies and newcomers. That’s why it’s our mission to show you how WeChat and its functions like advertising work step by step, so your brand can succeed in this highly competitive environment.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is WeChat? And Why is it so important?

To set the scene, global businesses basically cannot afford to neglect the Chinese market and its ready-to-buy consumers. Why? China currently is the second-largest economy by GDP after the US and the largest e-commerce economy in the world. Besides, this growth is not slowing down. In fact, industry experts predict China to become the largest economy by GDP in the next few years! So, how can you leverage this potential?

Well, with more than 1.3 billion monthly active users, WeChat is China’s most popular app, market leader, and even more so – a way of life. Let’s take a closer look!

About WeChat

Developed and released by Tencent in 2011, WeChat (微信) has evolved into far more than a micro-messaging app. Today, WeChat is China’s meeting point for social interactions, shopping, reservations/appointments, payment, and much more.

As such, it may not surprise you that Chinese internet users spend an average of 80 minutes per day on WeChat. This can be attributed to two main factors: 1. WeChat’s many functions that combine those of many other apps, and 2. the fact that Western services like Google, Facebook, and Uber are not available in the “Middle Kingdom”.

Are WeChat Ads Suitable for me?

To begin with, WeChat is the equivalent of Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Therefore, WeChat ads are for you if your B2C and B2B products or services appeal to the masses and you have set aside an ad budget. Then, advertising on WeChat is ideal for:

  • Growing your Chinese audience
  • Engaging millions of suitable prospects
  • Increasing leads and sales
  • Raising your brand awareness in the Chinese market

Compared to Baidu, WeChat is usually not as good for lead generation, but works well for generating followers and interactions. 

Advantages of WeChat Marketing

The extensive market penetration of the app together with precise targeting options make WeChat advertising one of the most cost-effective marketing tools for the Chinese market. 

WeChat’s ad targeting options include location, age, interests, employment, home ownership, marital status, and much more.

Watch Out: Pitfalls of WeChat Advertising

Businesses have long recognized the power of WeChat as China’s “app for everything”. As such, the competition is high among brands for the attention (and money) of consumers. 

To stand out on WeChat with your brand and ads, make sure to create an interesting and unique format and offer. Also, keep in mind that WeChat ads are displayed less frequently compared to e.g. Facebook ads. 

While targeting options for WeChat ads are vast, the general feedback by industry experts is that the WeChat algorithm does not always seem to capture the target audience precisely, resulting in weaker leads and sales conversions compared to some other advertising options. However, integrated into a holistic marketing plan, it is still an important component in increasing leads and sales. Even for B2B companies, WeChat is considered the most important social platform.

Besides, the way Chinese consumers think and act is vastly different from a Western audience. Therefore, understanding the Chinese cultures and specialties is crucial to promoting your brand effectively on WeChat. 

Oh, and WeChat content is in Chinese language. So, you should be able to read and write Simplified Chinese.

Finally, being a Chinese company and its head office located in mainland China, WeChat is subject to strict Chinese regulations and content limitations.

Start WeChat Advertising in 5 Steps

Promote your business, brand, products, or services effectively with a high average return on investment. Setting up and running WeChat ads in the back office is similar to managing Facebook ads.

1. Register a WeChat Official Account 

As a first step, you need to set up an official WeChat account (微信公众号) to run ads. While you can also set up an account through a third-party Chinese license with limited features, you must set up a WeChat official account with your overseas business license to use WeChat advertising.

  • Your business is the legal owner of the account
  • WeChat advertising is possible, the minimum budget is 7,000 RMB (approx. 1,000 USD) 
  • Registration takes 2 – 4 weeks
  • Annual fee of 99 USD

Click here to register your official WeChat account. If all of this sounds too complicated or you want to save time and money, the specialists at WeChat Advertising are here for you!

2. Open a WeChat Advertising Account

Let’s start with the good news first. You don’t need a business registration in China or host your website in mainland China to apply for a WeChat advertising account.

Click here to start with the WeChat advertising account (微信广告服务商系统) setup. Submit your business details and supporting documents, advertising intentions, as well as payment information (credit card or WeChat Pay). Approval usually takes 1-4 weeks. Keep in mind that certain sectors like medical and finance are restricted or banned from advertising on WeChat.

3. Create a Landing Page

When clicking on an ad, users are typically redirected to a landing page or form within WeChat or the Tencent ecosystem. This usually provides the best results, especially if you want to generate leads or grow followers. Now, you are ready to start WeChat advertising.

Alternatively, users can be redirected to a landing page outside WeChat/Tencent, normally on a brand’s official website. Keep in mind that this requires a website hosted in mainland China and an ICP license with possible exceptions. The Chinese marketing experts at WeChat Advertising are happy to discuss your options.

4. WeChat Advertising: 5 Options

Choosing the right advertising option(s) for your brand and business is crucial to achieving the best results. Let’s take a look at the different WeChat advertising formats.

A. WeChat Moment Ads

WeChat Moments are part of the main feed where users scroll to see daily social media updates from their family and friends. Moments Ads (朋友圈广告) look similar to a user-generated post, but are marked as “Promotion/Advertisement”.

When a user shares a Moment ad with another user, WeChat automatically places the ad on the Moments feed of users with similar interests.

  • About: most popular format, similar to Facebook newsfeed
  • Pro: looks organic, likely to be shared, engaging and interactive, highly effective
  • Con: users only see 1 WeChat moment every 24-48 hours, unlikely to go viral (only shared with friends)
  • Formats: images, text, videos (embedded or full screen), 360 panoramas
  • Ad types: Exposure Scheduling and Exposure Competition (both CPM)
  • Cost: most expensive ad format, cost comparison below
  • Advertising goals: brand awareness, sales, product/service promotion, app downloads, user redirection (e.g. to official WeChat brand account)
  • Ideal for: established businesses, luxury brands

A standard moment ad includes the brand name, a profile picture, up to 6 images or 6-15 second videos, a link to an HTML5 page, and text with up to 40 Chinese characters. Here’s a deep dive into WeChat Moments Ads.

Examples of WeChat Moments Ads

WeChat Moment Ads: Start WeChat Advertising
WeChat Moments Ads: Dior (fashion) & Taobao (e-commerce)
WeChat Moments Ads: Start WeChat Advertising
WeChat Moments Ads: CHANEL (fashion) & DR (jewelry)
WeChat Moments Ads: Start WeChat Advertising
WeChat Moments Ads: ROLEX (watches) & Siemens (electronics)

Next, let’s take a look at ads via official WeChat accounts.

B. WeChat Official Account Ads

You have already set up your official brand account in the first step. Now, this is also where you can place ads. Official Account Ads (公众号广告) are normally Banner Ads and show up in the articles (middle or bottom) or messaging areas, so they can easily be shared privately or as Moments.

  • About: most effective format, especially to grow followers
  • Pro: more disruptive (content stands out)
  • Con: users cannot like or comment on ads (contrary to Moments Ads), look less organic
  • Formats: images, videos
  • Ad types: Exposure Scheduling and Exposure Competition (both CPM)
  • Cost: medium pricing, cost comparison below
  • Advertising goals: brand promotion, increase followers
  • Ideal for: SMEs

A typical banner ad includes the brand name, logo, and headline. Upon clicking, the user is redirected to a landing page. Add a prominent Call-To-Action (CTA) for best results.

Examples of WeChat Official Account Ads

WeChat Official Account Ads: Start WeChat Advertising
WeChat Official Account Ad: CAMEL (sports)

Now, let’s take a look at WeChat Video Account Ads.

C. WeChat Video Account Ads

Also known as WeChat Channels, WeChat Video Accounts are a popular place for netizens to post short videos for friends and the web. WeChat Channel ads are displayed at the bottom of the video as an overlay or in the comments area.

  • About: short-video platform within WeChat app, similar to TikTok
  • Pro: popular among viewers, potential to go viral
  • Con: limited ad formats, content must be on point for Chinese audience (extra cost for high-quality video production)
  • Formats: short videos
  • Ad types: CPM and CPC
  • Cost: medium pricing, cost comparison below
  • Advertising goals: brand promotion and awareness, engage audience, drive conversions
  • Ideal for: all businesses with the ability and resources to create visually appealing content (success depends on high-quality content)

Currently, the following WeChat Channels Ad types are available

  • Mutual Selection Ad: collaboration between advertisers and video creators (typically KOL/influencer), brand sets marketing fee for videos with 1-60 seconds or more than 60 seconds
  • Small Task Ad: brands can assign tasks to creators (KOL/influencer) who develop and share content as briefed, creators are compensated based on ad performance
  • Native Ad: brands can seamlessly integrate promotional content into live broadcasts or short-video ads, smooth user experience, accelerate conversions through in-stream purchases while watching

Examples of WeChat Video Account Ads

WeChat Video Account Ads WeChat Advertising
WeChat Video Account Ads: Ningbo Bank & 金典 (milk brand)

Find out how to publish videos, discover the Video Account backend, and learn about marketing options in this comprehensive article on WeChat Channels Features.

D. WeChat Mini-Program Ads

WeChat Mini-Programs are smaller sub-apps within WeChat where brands offer additional services to users. Mini-App Ads on WeChat (小程序广告) are commonly Banner Ads, Interstitial Ads (Full-Screen Ads), Mini-Games, and Pop-Up Ads.

  • About: convenient access to services and functionalities within WeChat without separate app download
  • Pro: high user engagement
  • Con: time and resources to develop and maintain a Mini-Program
  • Formats: images, text, videos, interactive elements
  • Ad types: Exposure Scheduling (CPM) and Pay-Per-Click (CPC)
  • Cost: medium pricing, cost comparison below
  • Advertising goals: grow followers, app downloads, mini-app promotion (e.g. games)
  • Ideal for: e-commerce businesses

WeChat Mini-Program Ads are ideal for capturing the users’ attention at key moments during their interaction with the mini-program.

Examples of WeChat Mini-Program Ads

WeChat Mini Program Ads Start WeChat Advertising
WeChat Mini-Program Ads: WeChat examples

Finally, let’s delve deeper into search ads in WeChat.

E. WeChat Search Ads

WeChat Search Ads enable brands to display their campaigns on the platform’s search result pages, offering paid keyword advertising to target short-tail and buyer-intent keywords relevant to their niche.

  • About: main source of organic traffic for most WeChat accounts
  • Pro: high intent audience, precise targeting, cost-effective, measurable results
  • Con: WeChat registration with/as Chinese business entity required
  • Formats: images, text
  • Ad types: CPM and CPC
  • Cost: medium pricing, cost comparison below
  • Advertising goals: brand awareness, driving leads and sales
  • Ideal for: all businesses that aim to engage users with high purchase intent

Examples of WeChat Search Ads

WeChat Search Ads Start WeChat Advertising
WeChat Search Ads: searching for jobs & language learning institute

Now, you are certainly curious to see a comparison of the different WeChat ad types including cost to start WeChat advertising. So, here we go.

5. WeChat Ads: General Comparison

To start advertising on WeChat easily and without a hassle, here’s a quick overview of the different ad types. 

AdsMomentsOfficial Account/ Banner AdsVideo/ChannelMini-ProgramSearch
AboutMost popularMost effectiveIn-app short- video platformAdditional in-app functions without extra app downloadMain source of organic traffic for most brands
ProOrganic look, engagingDisruptive lookPotential to go viralHigh user engagementHigh intent audience
Con1 ad every 24-48 hoursLess engagingHigh-quality content tailored to Chinese audience a mustResources for mini-app development/ managementChinese business entity required
FormatsImage, text, video, panoramaImage, videoShort videosImages, text, videos, interactive elementsImages, text
Ad typesOne-off, CPM/CPCOne-off, CPM/CPCCPM/CPCOne-off, CPM/CPCCPM/CPC
GoalsAwareness, sales, downloadsGrow followers, promotion, salesAwareness, engagement, conversionGrow followers, downloadsAwareness, sales
Ideal forEstablished and luxury brandsSMEsAll brands with ability to create high-end contentE-commerce businessesAll brands

Last, but not least, investment costs for WeChat advertising are important to make an informed decision about the best marketing strategy. So, let’s take a look.

6. WeChat Ads: Cost Comparison

In terms of budget, let’s take a look at the minimum investment required to run WeChat ads. 

Scheduled ads start on the date that you set and have a fixed number of impressions. Exposure ads refer to bids by impressions or clicks, and thus on your competition and their willingness to invest/bid. Keep in mind that winning a bid does not mean impressions/clicks are guaranteed.

Minimum budget
(status Q1/2024)
Scheduled adsExposure ads (CPC/CPM)
Moment Ads* 50,000 RMB (approx. 7,000 USD) one-off
* 50-180 RMB (approx. 7-25 USD) for 1,000 impressions
50 RMB (approx. 7 USD) per day
Official Account Ads
(Banner Ads)
* 1,000 RMB (approx. 150 USD) one-off
* 15-40 RMB (approx. 2-6 USD) for 1,000 impressions
50 RMB (approx. 7 USD) per day
Video Account Ads
(Channel Ads)
* 50,000 RMB (approx. 7,000 USD) one-off
* 50-100 RMB (approx. 7-15 USD) for 1,000 impressions
50 RMB (approx. 7 USD) per day
Mini-Program Ads1,000 RMB (approx. 150 USD) one-off50 RMB (approx. 7 USD) per day
Search Adsn.a.50 RMB (approx. 7 USD) per day

So, now you have all the information to start WeChat advertising on your own. Well done, you!

Your Checklist to Start WeChat Advertising

Here is your easy as 1, 2, 3 checklist to start with WeChat marketing

1. Develop a China marketing strategy

  • Define your marketing goal(s)
  • Set a budget
  • Determine suitable marketing channel(s)
  • Consult a China marketing specialist for support

2. WeChat Advertising

  • Register a WeChat Official Account
  • Apply for a WeChat Advertising Account
  • Create a Landing Page(s)
  • Choose your suitable WeChat ad option(s)
  • Evaluate ad results and make adjustments as needed

This brings us to the end of this article on WeChat advertising.

The Takeaway – Start WeChat Advertising

With many Western apps unavailable in the “Middle Kingdom”, and WeChat serving as an “app for everything” for Chinese internet users, having an active business presence is basically “required” if you wish to be successful in the Chinese market.

To boost your business and brand efficiently and effectively, WeChat ads have proven to be a powerful tool to do so. Increase followers, engage with ready-to-buy consumers, boost your leads and sales, and raise your brand’s awareness across China with these ad options within WeChat:

  • Moments Ads
  • Official Account Ads
  • Video Account Ads
  • Mini-Program Ads
  • Search Ads

Are you curious to learn more? Or do you want to get started with WeChat advertising right away? Our China specialists are here for you. Our team has the real-life experience and technical skills to set your brand apart from the competition!

Contact WeChat Advertising today to secure your FREE consultation and start WeChat advertising. Our team has run hundreds of successful marketing campaigns on WeChat, and other popular Chinese platforms. We’d love to share our real-life expertise and help your business succeed as well!

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