WeChat, China’s most popular social media mobile software developed by Tencent, is reportedly inviting some Official Account publishers to test out displaying eCommerce ads in an article, enabling users to directly enter the purchasing page via clicking on affiliate links. It seems that Tencent regains ambitions at creating a new online shopping pattern: shopping as you’re reading.
According to a Tencent insider, the company is currently experimenting with the new advertising function in WeChat Official Account, it is still undecided what the final product form will be and when the general availability will be opened up. “If there is any plan for further testing or open-up, we will give official information on WeChat”, the source said.
Detailedly, the new function makes it possible for WeChat publishers to flexibly insert an advertisement in an Official Account article when editing pictures and texts, while selecting product category independently, WeChat system will automatically display matching advertisement in accordance with the content. Likewise, all types of accounts are eligible to run official WeChat account ads and publishers can receive advertising revenue based on the number of clicks.
Some invited publishers also reveal that WeChat currently supports only one advertisement in an Official Account article and there should be at least 300 words before and after the advertisement. Namely, short articles and those involve a video only have not the ability to insert advertisement in the articles.
For non-beta testers, their official accounts will not be displayed the option of "Ads in Article" as the following picture shows:
Contrarily, the lucky beta testers can have access to the function of directly adding advertisement to articles when editing pictures and texts.
After inserting an advertisement, publishers can decide the product category from Clothing, Shoes, Handbags, Watch & Jewelry, Sports & Outdoors, Beauty, Electronics, Computers & Office, Baby, and etc. Some high-risk advertising like medical care are not involved in the list, however.
Since Tencent is a big shareholders at JD.com—one of the two largest B2C online retailers in China alongside Alibaba-run Tmall, it is easy to understand that all advertising links in WeChat Official Account articles will jump to JD.com. This is really a huge traffic entrance for the e-commerce website! WeChat shopping, in some degree, is equivalent to JD.com shopping.
It becomes more horrible when considering that users tend to spending longer time on WeChat as time goes by. According to QuestMobile’s survey on how long smartphone users spend on mobile applications each month, WeChat took up nearly 35 percent to lead all applications. Tencent rolling out the new advertising form certainly will dramatically increase publishers’ income and keep more premium content creators. Quality content will then attract more users, creating a virtuous cycle.