- Tencent, the Chinese social media company whose WeChat mobile application has 963 million monthly users, will open up its expansive ad platform to U.S. advertisers as it make a greater push to lure Western marketers that want to reach Chinese consumers, according to a press release by the company.
- Chinese consumers spend more than 55% of their mobile internet time on Tencent platforms like WeChat/Weixin, QQ, Qzone, Tencent Video and Tencent News, which demonstrates the need for marketers to reach this massive user base on their preferred mobile platform, the company said.
- Mall operator Simon Property Group and fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff were among the U.S. brands that tested Tencent's new ad platform.
This news comes as tech giants around the globe experiment with how to generate revenue via communication platforms, including Facebook's testing ways to monetize Messenger and WhatsApp. Since WeChat launched in 2011, it's become one of China's top one-stop-shop apps, where its nearly 1 billion monthly users go for chatting, social media, news, online dating, mobile payments and more. It's experienced massive growth in just a few years, so it's understandable that U.S. advertisers would want to get in on the action while the app is still booming.
Being able to connect with Chinese consumers at home could also translate to sales stateside given the country's massive number of tourists who like to explore abroad. Chinese tourists spent $35 billion in the U.S. last year, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association cited by the press release. Properly targeting these consumers with advertising will require some finesse, however, which Tencent seeks to provide through the new offerings.
"Brands have become more sophisticated about the needs and behavior of Chinese tourists," Poshu Yeung, Tencent's VP of international business, said in a statement. "To make a sale outside China, they understand that they need to speak to their customers before they even plan their trips."
If balanced well, advertisers could tap into the massive user database WeChat's captures, which is arguably one of its main attractions for marketers. Tencent has struggled somewhat to bring WeChat to Western markets, according to Fast Company, but its latest effort appears to be a shift toward boosting awareness among U.S. consumers about the app's many integrated mobile features.