How L’Oreal & Taobao Are Revolutionizing Ads on WeChat


WeChat released a new update earlier this month that allows for more sophisticated advertising. Two brands, L’Oreal Paris and Taobao, immediately jumped on the opportunity, launching new styles of ads that look to tap in WeChat’s 570 million strong user base.

L’Oreal Breaks New Ground With Video Ads

Starring Fan Bingbing, a famous movie star and long-time L’Oreal spokesperson, the WeChat ad runs for only a few seconds and asks the audience: “What does she use for her skin?” None of this would be earth-shattering, save for the way in which L’Oreal is delivering the commercial.

While ads have been popping up in WeChat users’ feeds for a long time, L’Oreal is breaking new ground by including video content. As the WeChat user browses their friends’ posts, the ad will appear in the feed and start playing.

Knowing that not all WeChat users or Chinese internet surfers will see the ad in their WeChat feeds, L’Oreal decided to launch the ad on another platform simultaneously–Baidu.

Now when a Baidu user types in Fan Bingbing or Revitalift, the product the ad is promoting, animated graphics will start playing as the first result and a few short seconds later a link will appear offering the viewer a coupon for L’Oreal products.

While L’Oreal is going cutting-edge with video and search engine pop-ups, Alibaba’s Taobao is going old-school.

Did Taobao Just Launch a Newspaper?

Scrolling through your WeChat feed, you might be surprised to see a newspaper pop up called the Niubility Mail. (Niu is slang in Chinese for ‘awesome’.)

A week after Alibaba Group, Taobao’s parent company, shocked everyone with its $266 million purchase of the Hong Kong English-language daily, the South China Morning Post. Is the Niubility Times a sign that Jack Ma is trying to create a media empire?

While that would be an exciting story, the answer is much more mundane and more in tune with what our readers here at Social Brand Watch are looking for. In short: the Niubility Times is all about branding and advertising.

Joining Forces With China’s Buzzfeed

The Niubility Mail is actually a product of Taobao and Jinri Toutiao, or Today’s Headlines. Toutiao is a popular news site similar to Gawker and Buzzfeed in its use of sophisticated algorithms to understand its readers’ tastes and preferences.

The website reports that it can know what its readers want to read and alter what appears on the website accordingly in just a few seconds.

Taobao is likely looking to tap into that functionality to help track what ‘readers’ of the Niubility Mail want to buy.

The ‘newspaper’ looks like any other news site and includes a drop down menu with links to sections on topics that range from finances to the weather. However, the key difference is all of the content is actually native advertising for Taobao and products available on the site.

New Ways to Reach an Audience

While Taobao’s ‘newspaper’ seems somewhat gimmicky and the L’Oreal video lacks a punch, they’re both signs that smart brands are investing in new and innovative approaches to marketing. This is yet more proof that WeChat is changing the Chinese social media landscape.

About Author

Not yet an 'old China hand', Sam Elliott is a British man who is passionately curious about the Middle Kingdom. He's a recent transplant to LA and has made it his mission to spread the word about great Chinese brands. When he's not working, he loves to keep active, eat vegan and learn study Chinese.

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