When we talk about tech giants and global internet companies, the focus is usually around the Googles, Facebooks and Amazons of the world.
But closely behind these big three businesses is Chinese company Tencent, which analysts recently gave a market cap of $US521.7 billion.
Now considered the fourth largest internet company in the world, Tencent is a technology conglomerate in every sense. Offerings include gaming, music, social media, ecommerce, entertainment and even online dating.
The majority of Tencent’s revenue still comes from gaming, but its social media platform WeChat is starting to contribute significantly to the bottom line through an extensive – and now global – advertising offering.
“We are Facebook, plus WhatsApp, plus Tinder,” said Tencent International Business Group head of business development Ian Chan (pictured below).
WeChat is all about keeping users in the same ecosystem.
Leveraging 1,151.0 million monthly active users and accounting for 35 per cent of time spent on mobile for Chinese users, there is an enormous user base for businesses to work with.
Businesses promote their product through an official account – not dissimilar to a Facebook page – which then can be purchased using the online and offline mobile payment solution WeChat Pay.
“It’s a closed-loop ecosystem that users cannot escape,” he said. “We can try to build awareness of the Chinese user from closing the loop.”
The all-encompassing nature of the platform ad targeting is almost unparalleled.
“Becuase we have a lot of products, we know our customer well. When we work with brands, they can just tell us what kind of targeting they want and we will try to find those targeted profiles,” Chan said.
WeChat Pay plays a significant role in “closing the loop”. A user can, for example, visit the official account of a nearby restaurant, look at the menu, order their food and pay for it without leaving the site.
“WeChat Pay is very critical for the entire user journey,” said Chan.
“You can adapt this function inside an official account, or Mini Program, and then you can close the deal with the user inside the official account through online payment.”
Additionally, there are now ‘offline’ functions for WeChat Pay, now available globally. For example, a WeChat user can now call a taxi in Sydney and pay for it through WeChat Pay.
WeChat’s advertising solution is divided into three different categories; inbound, outbound and local.
Each aims to capture the attention of WeChat users in specific contexts.
‘Inbound’ advertising on WeChat is all about reaching Chinese nationals while they are in Mainland China, ‘Outbound’ is for travelling Chinese citizens and ‘Local’ is for local WeChat users who are overseas.
Each has a potential function for an Australian brand for example. Inbound can help build the profile of a brand looking to breach the Chinese market, while outbound has “tactical” functions, that can be particularly effective for targeting Chinese tourists.
Travel is a particular focus on WeChat advertising and is one of the top strategic priorities.
Chan explained the different solutions can be combined to target a user throughout their travels.
“For awareness and consideration in the pre-departure stage, we can use inbound ads to target those users, because you have to make the Chinese tourists know about your brand,” he said.
“When the tourists arrive at the destination, we’ll use an outbound ad to target them. The creative of the campaign can be more tactical. Ask them to get coupons, ask them to go to the shops and buy etc.
“After the trip, we can also ask them to follow an official account and then you can keep up this engagement with Chinese tourists.”
Both Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand have launched campaigns using WeChat.
In a campaign which leveraged the Quokka and Koala, Tourism Australia was able to acquire a 200 per cent engagement rate, compared to the average.
sending the right message
With a platform like WeChat now giving Australian brands unprecedented access to the Chinese market, it is important for these brands to ensure they are sending the right message.
When asked what tips he would give to an Australian brand looking to use WeChat advertising for the first time, Chan said taking initiative is key.
“Australian brands have to take the first step,” Chan said.
“Sometimes in the digital world, brands think that to target Chinese users they need a huge budget. In reality, you can use a small budget to take the first step.”
He suggested brands use A/B testing on their creative to deduce the most effective messaging for the Chinese market.
“Your ad format, your copy, your editing – it affects a lot. You have to put effort into learning about suitable content for Chinese tourists.”