Is Advertising in China Still Effective? My Experience Might Surprise You!


Hello everyone! It’s Fung Cheng here. Today, we’re diving deep into a topic that I get asked about a lot: Is Advertising in China Still Effective Today? Given the rapid transformations in China’s marketing landscape, this is a golden query. Especially if you’re a worldwide eCommerce or Amazon FBA seller looking to source from China, this is for you. Let’s unravel this!


When we trace back the roots of advertising in China, there’s a profound story that unfolds. You see, for years, China has been an epicenter for rapid technological evolution and cultural shifts. In my experience working closely with suppliers and e-commerce sellers, I’ve observed firsthand how the waves of change in advertising have mirrored the leaps in sourcing and selling products.

From the days of traditional paper ads to the booming digital era, advertising in China has seen a revolution like no other. Understanding this transformation is pivotal for global e-commerce sellers, especially those venturing into the private label products space. Think about it – with the ever-changing landscape of advertising in China, there’s a trove of lessons and insights we can gather. I always advise my partners, especially those from Amazon FBA and other platforms, to not just source their products but also to tune into the advertising practices. After all, effective advertising in China has a direct impact on consumer behavior, which, in turn, shapes global purchase patterns.

With this in mind, let’s dive deeper into the nuances of the current advertising scene in China and uncover the golden nuggets of wisdom it offers for worldwide e-commerce sellers.

The Size and Dominance of China’s Advertising Market

Chinese market

One burning question: How massive is China’s advertising market? Well, here’s a fun fact – China’s advertising realm is the world’s second-largest, trailing just behind the USA. The outdoor and internet advertising sectors absolutely dominate, making digital the name of the game. But it’s not just about size; it’s about where the action happens.

You might be used to Google, Facebook, and Instagram, but in China, the game’s a tad different. Google? Not around. Facebook or Instagram? Nope, not those either. Instead, we have giants like Baidu, WeChat, Weibo, and yes, Douyin (which many of you might know as TikTok’s original version). These platforms are not just popular; they’re pivotal. If you’re looking to tap into the Chinese market, your brand needs a robust presence here. It’s where our folks hang out daily!

How Do Chinese Consumers View Advertising?

Now, how do the Chinese feel about ads? Back in the day, and not just in China, the world leaned heavily on traditional TV advertising. Fast forward to now, and with the internet boom, TV advertising isn’t the juggernaut it once was. Sure, it’s a decent tool for brand exposure, but the massive traffic pull? Those days are somewhat behind us.

From my observations, online advertising has taken the lead, being more cost-effective. But here’s the catch – while digital platforms can drive insane traffic, they don’t always inspire the same level of trust as TV spots do. If you want to truly cement your brand’s trustworthiness, you can’t entirely rule out TV.

So, What’s the Most Effective Ad Format in China?

Advertising form

Ah, the million-dollar question! Well, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. A lot rides on your specific industry. Let’s say you’re into wholesaling, hunting for resellers in China. In that case, Baidu PPC stands out as the frontrunner. Here’s why: targeting wholesalers is a niche game. You don’t want to burn cash reaching the masses when you need a select audience. What’s worked wonders for me is a solid, user-friendly Chinese website coupled with strategic Baidu PPC ads. Just set it up, and wait for those specific keyword searches to lead prospects straight to you.

Is advertising in China effective? Undoubtedly. But like everywhere else, it’s about understanding the landscape, knowing where your audience is, and crafting strategies accordingly. And from what I’ve seen, while digital reigns supreme, old-school methods like TV still have their magic. So, if you’re considering expanding into China, equip yourself with the right knowledge, be present where it matters, and remember – it’s about mixing and matching methods till you find your sweet spot.

Tapping into the B2C Market

If you’re like me and deeply involved in the business-to-consumer sector, handling inventories and warehousing in China, then I bet you understand the power of direct fulfillment. You and I, we want each product to reach our customers individually. Isn’t that the beauty of e-commerce? Especially for many of you ecommerce sellers and Amazon FBA sellers who are eyeing China for sourcing.

Now, here’s a golden nugget from my experience. For brands like ours that aim to have a widespread reach, there’s nothing like mobile and video advertising. Think about it. We’re not just influencing our end customers but also supporting our sub-sellers. I always feel that when we’re present on platforms where our audience spends most of their time, we’re already halfway to making a sale.

Push Vs. Pull: Which Strategy Suits Your Brand?

Which Strategy Suits Your Brand

In the world of digital advertising in China, there’s often this debate: should we opt for a push strategy or go the pull way? Let me explain it to you in simple terms if you’re new to this. In a pull strategy, we patiently wait for our clients to find us online after looking for terms associated with our industry. On the other side, with the push strategy, we reach out to potential clients, including those who might be unaware of our existence. Thus, everything comes down to the type and stage of your company.

I’ve been asked multiple times: “Fung, should we even consider TV ads when online advertising is so cost-effective?” Here’s my two cents on this. There are primarily two factors to consider: budget and business stage. If you’re blessed with a generous budget, why not opt for both? On the other hand, if money is tight, you must choose.

As far as I can tell, TV advertising has an advantage when it comes to establishing credibility. If you’re well-established in the Chinese market with numerous resellers and distributors, TV ads might give your brand that added boost. But for those just starting out, platforms like Baidu PPC and setting up official Chinese websites can work wonders.

The Massive Advertising Spend in China

Let’s talk numbers for a moment. Advertising spend in China is colossal! We’re looking at over 100 billion every year. And if you look closely, there’s a shift happening – from traditional mediums like TV to more digital platforms. And yes, while there might be similarities, advertising strategies in China can be quite different from the West.

For instance, TikTok has revolutionized mobile usage in China. It’s fascinating how this platform, originally from China, has influenced global advertising trends.

Finally, let’s touch upon influencer marketing. We’ve seen its impact on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and of course, TikTok. From my observations, influencer marketing in China holds immense power in influencing purchase decisions. With the fusion of e-commerce and influencers, sales can skyrocket, especially if you’re driving traffic from platforms like Douyin, the Chinese counterpart of TikTok.The beauty of this? We can measure the conversion, seeing real-time results of our advertising efforts.

Because of this, Chinese branding is not only successful but also offers a range of chances for companies to interact with their target market. Knowing these subtleties can provide you a competitive edge whether you are an established player or a beginner to the Chinese market.  

The Power of Technology in Advertising

Nowadays, technology offers us an unprecedented view into our marketing efforts. With tools like Google Analytics, I’ve personally seen how it revolutionizes the way we track our traffic. Remember those days when you’d blindly advertise and hope for the best? Those times are now over. I can quickly identify where my conversions are coming from, whether it is through social media sites like Facebook or TikTok or the great Google search, by putting up analytics on a website.

Speaking of modern advertising, influencer marketing has risen as a prominent player. It all comes down to clarity and getting response right away, and I’ll tell you why. In my experience, businesses adore it since they can directly link their investments to profits. I’ll draw you a picture. Say you invest 10k in an influencer. Now, with today’s tools, you can literally watch the traffic they drive to your store and the sales that ensue. If it works, great! If not, it’s easy to adjust course.

The Rapid Evolution of Advertising in China

Chinese advertising

Looking back, the advertising landscape in China has been nothing short of a whirlwind. Over the past 10 years, I’ve witnessed the shift from traditional mediums like magazines, TV ads, and outdoor banners to a heavy reliance on online strategies. Initially, our focus was on SEO and PPC, but now? It’s all about the dominance of social media.

And here’s a prediction from yours truly: the future of advertising in China leans heavily on video materials. Brands are increasingly investing in video advertising. When we stroll through the streets now, it’s no longer just static billboards. I’m seeing more digital displays, indicating a shift towards digital and video marketing. It’s an exciting time, and from my vantage point, this trend is here to stay!

Now, with all this talk about digital, you might be wondering about the good old billboard. Is it still effective in China? From my experience and observations, absolutely! Think of billboards as a perfect blend between TV ads and online ads. If you put them in crowded places like bus stations or subway entrances, they will be successful. How often have I been on my way to work just to get diverted by a sign close to the subway entrance? You are clueless. Plus, there’s an undeniable trust and authority that comes with outdoor ads. So, to all the naysayers, billboards and outdoor ads are here to stay!

Let’s Keep the Conversation Going!

I sincerely hope to hear from every single one of you before we wrap up this chapter. Have you seen how the Chinese advertising industry is evolving? Comment below with your thoughts and experiences! And if you valued this in-depth exploration, think about following my YouTube channel for additional insights.This is Fung Cheng saying goodbye until next time. Thanks for watching!

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