Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent is targeting Australian and New Zealand marketing budgets, offering a suite of digital advertising tools to reach mainland Chinese consumers.
Ian Chan, Head of Business Development, Tencent International Business Group, a division under Tencent Holdings Limited which is responsible for expanding business such as its cloud computing and payment services in overseas markets, was in Australia last week to share how Australian and New Zealand brands can reach a Chinese audience on the company’s communication and social platform, WeChat.
Unlike Chinese ecommerce companies Alibaba and JD.com, Shenzhen-based Tencent is yet to open an office in Australia but has been holding events here since 2017 to encourage local businesses to spend their ad dollars on the platform.
The effort is part of a wider push to diversify Tencent’s revenue base, which is largely derived from gaming. Advertising revenue has increased at more than 50 per cent year on year since 2013, to make up 18 per cent of total revenue in 2016. The segment continues to deliver double-digit growth and today it accounts for around 20 per cent of the company’s total revenue.
Tencent does not disclose how much of its advertising revenue comes from businesses based outside of China, but Chan told Which-50 the combination of Australia’s popularity as a travel destination and WeChat’s ubiquity has created an opportunity for businesses.
“We can see the potential for the advertising business in New Zealand and Australia. We hope we can to have more exposure to let the merchants know how they can use the WeChat ecosystem to improve their business,” Chan said.
WeChat has 1.15 billion monthly active users and according to research from Quest Mobile, Chinese internet users spend 47 per cent of their time online with a Tencent product.
For brands outside China, WeChat advertising falls into three categories: inbound (brand-building campaigns targeting consumers inside China), outbound (tactical promotions aimed at travellers when they arrive in Australia), and local (activities targeting the WeChat users who are based in the country).
The platform has also been used by Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand to drive the growth of Chinese Free Independent Travellers (FIT) – those travelling independently without a tour group.
Chan explained that a WeChat Official Account can be treated like a Facebook fan page for longer-term campaigns to acquire followers and broadcast information.
More short term campaigns, for example to shop immediately, are executed through WeChat Mini Programs. “If you treat WeChat as the internet, then a Mini Program is the webpage,” he said. Mini Programs were created to keep users inside the WeChat ecosystem when they want to interact with a merchant.
WeChat Pay also plays a critical role within the ecosystem. By facilitating transactions online and offline the payment data allows merchants to conduct attribution modelling and prove ROI on advertising spend.