Advertising on Toutiao


If you are curious about advertising on Toutiao, the AI-powered social news aggregation platform, the China experts at China Gravy have all the answers for you!

This article unveils the serious reading power of the platform that makes Toutiao an excellent digital marketing tool for Western businesses and how to best use advertising on Toutiao to convert Chinese users into lasting customers.

What is Toutiao?

Those that are familiar with Flipboard will find the AI-based news platform of Toutiao, a similar Chinese platform. Using an algorithm that learns about a user’s content preferences, ByteDance’s Toutiao provides endless feeds of articles, videos, and advertisements smartly curated to each user.

Launched in 2012 and known as Jinri Toutiao, or “Today’s Headlines”, the platform has become the most popular social platform for news and information in China. In fact, Toutiao has more than 279 million monthly active users.

The platform utilizes location, reading history, link clicks, and even types of mobile devices to narrow down the best content to show each individual and does not rely on the preferences of a user’s extended network to display suggested content. As such, the Toutiao brand is close to generating 10 billion views per day!

With the individual’s interests in mind, users have an unlimited supply of digital content that fits them the best and changes over time with the development of new or changed reading experiences.

Toutiao has made a strong impression in the Chinese market and records nearly 200,000 newly published content daily. This success has pushed the platform to be a strong and quickly-rising competitor to digital news giant, Tencent News.

Luckily for digital marketers, the targeted capabilities of the algorithm ensure that their content doesn’t get lost in the crowd but instead is viewed by the online users that are specifically interested in the type of content a business has to offer.

Who is Using Toutiao?

Content creators have the power to harness Toutiao’s machine learning capabilities to reach users around the world with personalized content delivered directly through artificial intelligence to Toutiao users. The popular news app selects the relevant content to show in its endless newsfeed, which seems like a dream come true for digital Chinese marketing solutions.

But who exactly makes up the target audience and how are they different from other popular platforms released by Baidu and Tencent?

The Beijing-based company appeals to marketers simply because the user base is mostly younger, wealthier, and more educated on average than users on other platforms.

85% of the daily users are under 35 years old and more than 40% of them have degrees or are currently enrolled in university. In comparison to Weibo or WeChat, 38% of Toutiao users have their own business or freelance. Toutiao users typically come from 1st and 2nd Tier cities and are upper-middle class. This makes advertising on Toutiao an ideal place to promote your brand.

Example of Toutiao Search Results

When searching for 塞浦路斯房产 (Cyprus properties) on your laptop or desktop computer, you will see the results pages with the following structure:

  • tabs at the top: (1) grouped, (2) information, (3) videos, (4) images, (5) users, (6) Q&A, (7) micro headlines, (8) encyclopedia
  • hot video news at the top and further news below
  • related news at the top right and 10 top stories below
advertising on Toutiao

The difference in age, education, and income translate to users that are more internationally aware and have disposable income that they can allocate to purchase goods and services online. 

Moreover, users are more committed to serious reading and expanding on their interests than the more lighthearted, fun offerings of other social platforms. This can be seen in the lengthier amounts of time users spend daily on Toutiao, equivalent to approximately 70 minutes each day.

How to Use Toutiao Advertising for Your International Business?

The great news for digital marketers is that Toutiao offers plenty of free or affordable ways to market to Chinese users. The platform shows articles with text and images, a video platform, Livestream options, answers, and even blogs.

There are also spaces for advertisements, but these are not necessarily shown as obvious Toutiao ads but rather a part of the news feed content. We’ll take a closer look at advertising on Toutiao in the section below.

In May 2015, Bytedance also launched its own video app, and in 2016 launched TikTok, or Douyin, swiftly becoming an international sensation for short video creation and sharing online on its social media platform.

This is to say that Toutiao has changed the way that international brands can target and engage consumers around the world and more importantly access the Chinese market quite easily. While the readership is educated and intent on serious content, content creators can still use a variety of media for lead generation, such as infographics, question and answer content, and short video clips.

Further, the platform provides the option for businesses to diversify their content. A brand may share their weekly blog posts, generate useful images that address specific interests or problems, and release mini video ads that capture the attention of a user all on the same platform. This contributes to raising brand awareness.

Keyword focus and audience-based content drive up the likelihood that your content is going to be seen by those most interested in it, which translates to better lead generation.

If you are already using search engines by Baidu, Sogou, Shenma, and Qihoo 360, then incorporating Toutiao Search into your China SEO marketing strategies is a breeze. If you aren’t yet taking advantage of this digital marketing tool, China Gravy can get you set up with Chinese SEO in no time!

Once a user begins to engage with your brand, they will continue to see the content that you post, establishing long-term relationships with the consumers that will make a difference for your brand. With Toutiao, digital marketing strategies provide real-time results from your ideal consumer and allow better analysis into the type of content consumers prefer.

Toutiao Advertising

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering advertising on Toutiao. To begin with, you need an official account for ByteDance ads, while a Toutiao campaign management account is optional.

How to Run Toutiao Ads

The official ad platform for ByteDance products including Douyin and Toutiao is Oceanengine. Running and managing Toutiao ads is similar to running Facebook ads.

Setting up a ByteDance/Toutiao account requires a Chinese phone number, a Chinese business license, and a few more documents. A China expert like China Gravy can help you with this.

Types of Toutiao Ads

These are the Toutiao push ad formats:

  • Feed ads: conversion-focused
  • Full cover open ads: ideal for branding campaigns
  • News banner: excellent for audience engagement

As with all marketing campaigns, the target audience (location, age, etc.), ad placement, and creative content need to be tailored to your marketing objective and user preferences alike.

Costs of Toutiao Advertising

Toutiao ads are ideal to test products in China at a low cost and low risk. In terms of pricing, Toutiao offers these models:

  • Cost per Acquisition (CPA): brands only pay after a successful conversion
  • Cost per Mille (CPM): cost per 1,000 impressions
  • Optimized Cost per Mille (OCPM)
  • Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Cost per View (CPV): ideal for video ads; 1 view = ad is played for at least 10 seconds

Toutiao ads are suitable for all niches, from real estate to beauty and retail.

3 Tips for Marketing on Toutiao

As an international business focused on marketing to digital users in creative and dynamic new ways, brands can utilize the unique AI-based news platform of Toutiao to reach more Chinese internet users and convert them into long-term consumers.

These three tips help you craft a manageable and profitable Toutiao experience.

1. Keep it short and sweet

Although Toutiao is a news platform, online users aren’t necessarily eager to read lengthy pieces. Keep your articles brief with engaging, creative content.

Often, providing everything about your brand or a product is overwhelming. Instead, stick to a focused, quality piece of content that gives your audience something to resonate with and inspires them to take action.

2. Remember who your potential customers are

Most consumers know when they are being marketed to and clichés or ‘sneaky’ marketing doesn’t always hold up. While online consumers know there are many advertisements online, they are still active and willing to engage with the right marketing advertisements if it appeals to their lifestyle or helps them solve a problem.

Success on Toutiao depends on your ability to put forth meaningful marketing content and solutions for Chinese consumers. Tailor content to a younger, wealthier, lifestyle-oriented audience, and provide solutions for them.

3. Diversify high-quality content

From articles to short videos or ads, Toutiao provides free digital marketing space to any brand that is willing to put in the work to generate quality content targeted for the right audience.

As most of the users are younger but well educated, understanding the preferences, lifestyles, and even age range of your ideal customer helps you create the type of content they want to know about in an elevated, educational format. Mix the presentation of your information – use video, images, and text.

The Takeaway – Advertising on Toutiao

Using AI technology, Toutiao makes it easy and affordable for any foreign business to get noticed in China and among global Chinese communities. The platform learns about the user and delivers more content related to their preferences. Therefore, advertising on Toutiao translates to lifting the potential of the Chinese market for online businesses through curated content. 

Using similar SEO strategies to those you should be using on other Chinese search engine platforms, such as Baidu, Shenma, Sogou, and Qihoo 360, international businesses can take advantage of the Toutiao platform and direct connection with Chinese businesses and consumers.

Get started on focusing your digital marketing approach on Toutiao with the help of the team at China Gravy and begin reaching the Chinese consumers that strengthen your business.

Please contact us for a FREE consultation. We are excited to show you how to journey into the Chinese market successfully with SEO solutions for China!

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