Douyin, the Chinese version of Tik Tok, has taken the country by storm. With 600 million Daily Active Users using the App an average of 67 minutes per day, Douyin is the right place to reach out to Chinese customers.
In this article, we’ll dive into Douyin advertising formats and strategies that will help you make the most out of Douyin. We will cover:
- Why Douyin is a good option for advertising
- Douyin’s official advertising formats
- Douyin Advertising specs
- Douyin Advertising segmentation and capacity
- How to run successful Douyin Advertising campaign
- Few steps and workflow to run Douyin Advertising campaign
Reasons to choose Douyin Advertising
Why is Douyin a good option for advertising?
Nearly half of the Chinese population uses Douyin daily (600 DAU), and is one of the Chinese social platforms with the highest user engagement and stickiness. According to Kantar and 36Kr, a user spends 120 minutes per day on average on Douyin to actively consume content and entertainment. This usage time is twice that of other social counterparts, including WeChat (61 mins), Red (57 mins), and Weibo (47 mins).
Douyin users also show the highest advertising receptivity among all leading social platforms. For example, 43% of users indicate that Douyin ads are easy to accept, sometimes even entertaining to watch. A higher receptivity also leads to a better feeling for the brand and makes conversion more likely to happen.
Douyin’s 4 different advertising formats
Douyin has four different ads formats. Which ones should you use? Read on.
In-feed ads are the most common form of Douyin advertising, appearing in the For You feed of users as they scroll through videos.
This ad format includes an action call to take users to a landing page. For example, the landing page can be a Douyin business account or redirect to a product or live-streaming (if the business account has a Douyin store) for eCommerce conversion.
With a CPM ranging from 10 to 50 RMB ($1.7 to $7.8), in-feed ads are a cost-effective format if you are looking for lead generation, eCommerce conversion, drive traffic to live-stream, or other types of performance-oriented campaigns.
Douyin Native ads (or Dou+ ads) amplify existing content on the Douyin App, similar to “Boosted posts” ads on Facebook.
Interestingly, Douyin Native ads don’t include any watermark suggesting that they benefited from the advertising budget. Instead, they look just like any other Douyin video promoted via the algorithm.
They can also include e-commerce links, often driving users to Taobao, Tmall, or Douyin stores.
Douyin also provides search advertising for brands to capture potential clients. For example, brands can define specific keywords related to their brand name (e.g., Dior), business (e.g., niche handbag brands), or services, just like search ads on Red or Google.
Unlike other ad formats in the “For You” section, search ads appear only when users search related keywords. As a result, it can capture more qualified traffic in the lower funnel and help effectively convert people who are already interested in certain brands, products, or services. Therefore, they are also a bit more expensive than In-Feed ads.
Many international brands, including Gucci, Sephora, and Farfetch, use search ads to drive traffic to the official website or download the official App.
TopView / Brand Takeover
This advertising format consists of full-screen ads displayed as soon as users open the App.
The full-page advertising can lead to:
- Landing pages
This advertising format is most appropriate for brands looking for a branding boost, but they are not geared toward conversions to e-commerce:
- The focus is usually on branding, not on specific products or prices
- Can’t redirect directly to a product
- CPM/CPC is generally higher than other types of programmatic ads, such as in-feed ads
Douyin Advertising Platforms
Like Facebook or WeChat, Douyin also provides various segmentation capacities for advertisers to impact their audience. In the case of Douyin, you will create and manage your advertising campaign through the OceanEngine platform.
OceanEngine is the official mobile marketing platform from ByteDance. OceanEngine helps brands advertise products and services on Bytedance’s ecosystem. It covers Apps including Douyin, Toutiao (one of China’s largest mobile news platforms), Xigua short video, Huoshan short video, FaceU (one of China’s most famous selfie camera and filter Apps), and more. You can understand OceanEngine as Facebook Ads Manager, which contains data from Facebook/Meta, Instagram, and other Facebook/Meta group Apps.
ByteDance Big Data
Tencent Ads used to have two separate ad systems for the WeChat ecosystem (MP platform) and Tencent ecosystem (GDT platform), which used to be an issue blocking data sharing between two different platforms. In comparison, ByteDance has always relied on collecting users’ activities in all the apps belonging to the giant social empire mentioned above. As a result, it is easier for the system to overview users’ actions and preferences across the affiliated Apps, and deliver the ads more accurately, thanks to a broader range of information gathered.
ByteDance is a global leader in recommendation algorithms. Before the creation of Douyin, Toutiao was the most successful product of ByteDance. Toutiao is a news app that customizes push notifications and news feeds depending on each user’s interest and behavior. The vital machine learning of Toutiao provided valuable experience for Douyin. As a result, Douyin’s For You page (which is also highly customized in real-time) has become critical in keeping users in the App. The well-functioning recommendation algorithm is also why many people find Douyin or Tiktok “addictive”. Therefore, this app is expert for pushing the perfect content and delivering proper advertising that a user may be looking for.
Douyin Advertising Segmentation
Douyin provides many dimensions for advertisers to find their target audience accurately. The details are as below (updated 2022 Jan):
You can choose demographic targetings such as location (by province/city/area/town), gender, and age range (18-23，24-30，31-40，41-49，50+). Douyin Ads also provide segmentation based on environment, such as types of network (4G, Wifi…), Operating system (iOS, Android), etc.
Interest and Behavior
Douyin provides 20 category tags and supports up to 350 keywords. Category tags are general interest and behavior. Interest refers to users’ possible hobbies shown by their consuming habits on social media or related eCommerce; behavior means users’ actions such as view, engage, search, purchase, and so on. You can also choose a specific time frame to make the activity more relevant, for example, in the recent 30 days).
Interest example: fashion apparel and accessories, travel, mom & kids, pets, news, electronic devices.
Behavior example: gaming, dining, daily services, education, furniture, and home decor.
Each interest & behavior category contains several more specific interest & behavior keywords. Thus, advertisers can select relevant granular keywords to focus on accurate audiences. For example, you can choose specific keywords such as fast fashion, streetwear, K-fashion, vintage style, and others under the fashion apparel category.
Douyin Ads also provides System Recommendation keywords to help you automatically target users that might be interested in your brand or services based on big data.
Like Weibo Ads, Douyin Ads also enable you to target KOL’s followers or users who engage with these KOLs. You have two options:
- Target at a broader level by types of KOL, for example, followers of fashion KOLs, lifestyle KOLs, ACGN (Anime, Comic, Game, Novel) KOLs, food KOLs;
- Or target specific KOL’s followers. You can select up to 30 KOLs.
Advanced Targeting with DMP – Data Management Platform
Douyin DMP provides a lot of labels or tags to create a highly customized target group.
DMP Advanced Labels
You can filter the users by consuming capacity forecast, content consumption preferences (for example, celebrity content, reality shows, short videos), and recommended labels by vertical (such as beauty & cosmetics, automobile).
Once you have done Douyin Ads, you will unblock this function. It includes your historical advertising audience, APP audience, and landing page audience.
Special seasonal labels
DMP also provides seasonal labels based on particular activities, recent hot trends, or Chinese festivals. For example, National Holiday audience, Spring Festival audience, trendy movie and series audience, gaming audience.
Customize your target audience
Given all the targeting capacity above, you can customize your target audience either by taking the intersection or the union. You will be able to see the estimated audience size on Douyin or other ByteDance APPs once you complete the selection.
How to run sufccessful Douyin Advertising Campaign
Define your campaign objective
Depending on your campaign objective, you might want to use different placements (feed, search) and formats (In-Feed Ad with CTA, Native Ads…) that lead to various measurement models (CPM, CPC, CPA…).
If you are looking for eCommerce conversion, Douyin In-Feed Ads, Native Ads, and Search Ads will be your best choice. You can also combine In-Feed Ads and Search Ads to cover the entire user journey.
If your main objective is massive awareness, Douyin TopView and Brand Takeover will guarantee maximum exposure to impact your target audience. It’s a common practice for big brands to leverage branding ads for official launches, new collection releases, brand ambassador announcements, and others.
If you are unsure where you should start for your brand, please refer to the below chart with different phases and find our recommendation.
Define audience mapping and target strategy
You might already have an idea of your ideal customer that fits your brand image and positioning well. For a quick start, you can collect the interest & behavior & keywords that you are using probably for Facebook/Instagram Ads and find its equivalent in Douyin. You can also refer to all the segmentation capacities that we explained earlier.
However, China is such a vast country with a massive audience size, so you might need some local experts to “translate” your target audience into China’s context. If you need any help defining your audience mapping and targeting strategy, don’t hesitate to reach us for a tailored solution.
Customize your creatives for Douyin
Make it short and eye-catching
Douyin users are impatient. Video Ads rhythm should be quick, short, and concise; otherwise, Douyin users will easily swipe up if the content does not catch their attention in the first two or three seconds.
Below is an example of C-beauty brand Perfect Diary. It starts with a question: “still wondering how to do your makeup for Chinese New Year?” Then quickly show seven types of makeup with fast-paced electronic music. The whole video is only 5 seconds but strong enough to make a user click “like” and probably go to the business account to know more.
Make it Chinese-user friendly
Localize your content for Chinese users. Adapt your creatives by adding a subtitle (if the audio is in English) or voiceover in Chinese, or create some video content optimized for Douyin. If the content contains a conversation or a plot, adding subtitles is common even if the conversation is in Chinese.
Adapt to Douyin style
Just like traditional video creatives that work for Instagram Feed might not work well for Tiktok or Reels, the best practice is to spend some time on Douyin to get a sense of the platform “style” and know what users are expecting.
Key Success Factor of Douyin Advertising Strategy
Like all the programmatic ads, the critical success factor for Douyin Ads is data and accurate targeting. However, programmatic advertising in China has one significant difference from its western “equivalent”: Most Chinese consumers will not go to official websites for shopping; instead, they rely on marketplaces such as Taobao, Tmall, JD.com.
As a result, individual brands do not have easy access to their audience behavior or performance, which can use for advertising. On Facebook, it’s pretty easy to target your valuable audiences, such as website visitors, add-to-cart users, or shoppers for different campaign objectives. In China, however, it’s simply not easy because most of the traffic will not go to your website. Therefore, you will probably need to rely on Tmall data for retargeting ads.
Therefore, you can rely on Ads for pure awareness or branding purposes without any problem. But for conversion-oriented campaigns, we’d recommend it to brands and advertisers with more than 400k RMB monthly GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) or provide retargeting data for better performance results.
Therefore, for brands in an early stage in China, we suggest you consider Douyin Ads after several months of organic operation and feel confident about the market. It’s better to start by testing your market fit with influencer seeding/gifting and then begin advertising on social media to scale your brand.
A few steps to launch Douyin Advertising Campaign
Check if Douyin Ads permit your industry for advertising
Before considering Douyin Ads, check if Douyin permits your industry/vertical for advertising. Douyin Ads welcome verticals such as fashion, luxury, beauty, jewelry, F&B, childcare, home appliances, consumer electronics, and daily usage products.
Here are the verticals not permitted for Douyin Ads due to regulations and law:
- Cigarettes, including electronic cigarettes
- Medical instruments, medical organizations, or apps
- Competitor products such as online community apps, online video apps, video editing tools, music apps, etc
Here is a list of restricted industries. Douyin needs to review case by case and might whitelist some top brands that meet the platform’s requirements.
- Wine and alcohol
- Health care products
- Gaming (depending on types of games)
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us, and we will help to review case by case.
Timeline and workflow to launch Douyin Ad camapign
We estimate roughly three weeks of preparation before launching your first campaign on Douyin. It includes two weeks of advertising account creation and verification, three weeks to define campaign objectives and strategy, audience mapping and targeting, and creative design. At around week 4, we will launch the first test and leverage the actual results and learnings to improve future campaigns.
We summarize the whole process as below chart:
Different approaches to leverage Douyin Advertising
Splash and Sustain
Step by step
Almost the opposite of Splash and Sustain, brands can start with in-feed ads for pre-warm, initiate hashtag challenge collaborating with KOL to generate engagement and co-creation, then leverage Brand Takeover and TopView for the most potent exposure on the big day.
Measure and improve your Douyin Advertising performance
Brand Lift / Conversion Lift
Similar to Facebook Ads and many other western platforms, Douyin also enables brands to measure the effectiveness of the ads with a data-driven method. It works just like A/B testing: among your target audience, the system will divide your audience into two groups, one will get exposure to your ads, and the control group will not. However, both groups could still receive ads from your competitors. At the end of the campaign, Douyin will provide a detailed report of how this campaign has benefited your brand by comparing test and control group results regarding brand recall, favorability, and likelihood to purchase.
- Time: you will need to run the campaign for at least two weeks to have a tangible impact on your audience.
- Cost: by intentionally dividing your target audience into two groups, you will have a smaller target audience, resulting in a higher cost of CPM.
- Therefore, it will be suitable for brands with a solid presence in China. It’s a way to measure how much advertising contributes to the brand quantitatively. We won’t recommend it for brands in a very early stage entering the Chinese market.
Dynamic Product Ads
Like Facebook DPA (Dynamic Product Ads), Douyin also provides Dynamic Products Ads for effective sales-driven campaigns. The logic is to use structured product data (brand name, product category, pricing) and let the product find its potential customer.
You will need to connect your product catalog to launch dynamic product ads.
Douyin Advertising Specs
Douyin In-Feed Ad Specs
For any ad placements that appear in the feed, the requirements are as below:
In-feed Ad Video requirement
- The video must have background music.
- The black screen area of the first video frame shall not exceed 60%.
- Douyin supports vertical video or horizontal video. If you use horizontal video for in-feed ads, note that it does not support full-screen playback with a 90-degree rotation.
- Video dimension: 540*960 (vertical), or 960*540 (horizontal). To ensure the best video resolution, Douyin recommends using 1080p videos.
- Video format: mp4, mpeg, 3gp, avi format.
- Duration: 5s – 60s.
- Video size: no more than 500M.
In-feed Copy requirement
- The post’s title supports up to 55 characters, including hashtag challenge title (if any). Any Chinese character, letter, punctuation mark, and space all count as one character.
- The title of the landing page supports up to 9 characters. It only applies if you need to build a separate landing page, such as a lead generation form.
Apart from these requirements, also keep in mind to avoid the screen area that might “overlap” with your account name and copy: there is a fixed information display area in the Douyin video, which may obscure part of the material content. Please avoid this area for the core elements of the creative.
Since different mobile phones have different occlusion ranges, the creative material might be cut or not showing completely. Therefore, we recommend avoiding the area of key elements in the video. Here is the mock-up of safety space provided by Douyin:
You can also check the original file for more detailed information.
Douyin Branding Ad Specs
For branding-oriented ads formats like Top View / Brand Takeover, the specs are as below:
Branding Ad video requirement
- Dimension: 640×1136 / 640×960 / 480×800 / 750×1624 / 720×1280 / 1080*1920 / 1080×2340. To ensure the best video resolution, Douyin recommends using 1080p videos.
- Format: mp4
- Duration: 5s
- Size: no more than 5M
- No background music
Branding Ad copy requirement
- Title: supports up to 9 Chinese characters; additional characters could be cut off.
- Source: supports up to 20 characters; Less than 12 characters will be optimal. (one Chinese character count as two characters; alphabet, punctuation mark, or space count as one character. This field serves as the back-end identifier of the ad delivery system. It will not display in actual delivery.)
If you want to know more about Douyin, here are several articles that may look interesting to you:
- How to create a Douyin verified account?
- How to create a Douyin store?
- What is Douyin Payment? A Simple Guide
- 7 examples of successful Douyin Marketing Campaigns
In summary, Douyin Ads leverage massive data from ByteDance to help your brand reach your accurate target customers in China. Chinese users are in love with short videos, and as a result, we still foresee a stable growth of user size and engagement on Douyin.
If you have more specific questions about Douyin or Douyin Advertising, please feel free to drop a message to us, and we will be ready to help you.