What are the most effective Chinese advertising methods?

The total transaction value of online Chinese advertising market grew by 40% in 2014 to RMB154 billion ($24.95billion) (source: China Internet Watch). Chinese companies took their place among the top 10 biggest ad sellers in the world. Baidu (4.68%) and Alibaba (4.66%) became the third and fourth largest companies according to market share of the estimated $146billion worldwide advertising revenue (source: eMarketer).

The Chinese advertising market is booming, thanks to an increase in consumer demand and shoppers with larger amounts of disposable income. Companies in China now have a wide range of options to consider when marketing to Chinese consumers. Which are the most effective?

Search engine marketing – Baidu PPC advertising

The leading search engine in China is Baidu. Chinese online users are proactive to look for information / solutions / values via Baidu. To learn more about how we can help you to run a successful Baidu PPC campaigns, please read our previous blog post Top Baidu PPC Advertising Tips.

Mobile advertising

At the end of 2014 China had 520million smartphone users. This number is expected to rise to 700million by the end of 2018 (source: Tech In Asia). Chinese companies spend 28% of their marketing budget on mobile, and investment in Chinese advertising on mobile was anticipated to jump almost 100% in 2014 to RMB10.142 ($1.65billion) (source: eConsultancy). This is because Chinese smartphone users are very open to being advertised to – 78% are more likely to click an advert if it contains content relevant to them. Additionally, just 7% of smartphone users in China don’t want to be targeted by ads.

The most popular ways to target mobile audiences were by interest, then by online purchasing history, then by location. The most popular mobile advertising format was video, followed by coupons, then banner ads, and then in-app adverts (source: Business 2 Community).

Video advertising

80% (around 450million) of the internet population in China watch online videos. In 2012 television viewing figures had dropped from 70% of households in 2009 to only 30% as more and more people made the switch to online content. All of China’s television stations are owned by the state and subject to heavy censorship (source: The Economist).

Video marketing can have great results. Pre-roll advertisements before YouKu’s original web show ‘Surprise’ saw 9.3% of viewers engaging (source: eMarketer).

KOL – Key Opinion Leaders

Brand ambassadors can help to bridge the cultural gap between companies and Chinese consumers. A 2011 Chinese advertising campaign by Tourism New Zealand, featuring the highly successful actress Yao Chen, generated 500,000 visits to the campaign’s microsite and 20,000 referrals thanks, partly, to Chen’s 40million Weibo following (source: MavSocial).

You don’t have to be able to afford high-profile stars to get brand endorsement. Weibo and WeChat, the top two social media platform in China,  have popular accounts in order to secure paid-endorsement for your product. The fees range depending upon how influential the account is, so getting the owners of smaller accounts on board is entirely affordable.


Knowing which Chinese advertising methods are generally most effective is useful, but your final choice needs to revolve around your target market. They might not follow the conventional behaviours, or their location, age, or financial status could mean they favour different platforms and ways of consuming content. Start with your target market, and work forwards from there.

(Image source: Image created by renjith krishnan | www.freedigitalphotos.net)