Ads and coupons from local vendors set to pop up on WeChat’s Moments feed

Small and middle-sized merchants can now post ads on the platform for as low as USD 284 per month.

Photo:Shutterstock.com

Tencent’s WeChat, the Chinese messaging giant with more than 1 billion monthly active users, has just opened an ad slot on its Moments function to small and middle-sized local merchants, as it speeds up to monetize the feature.

This means that neighborhood businesses like restaurants, fruit shops, or mom-and-pop stores now can place their ads, together with coupons, on WeChat’s Moments, an in-app feature also known as “Friend Circle,” for a low price. The minimum package is RMB 2,000 (USD 284) for a 30-day display.

With its wealth of user data, the platform can then push the ads to users within a three-kilometer radius from the store. Merchants are allowed to customize targeting users based on gender and age.

Moments, a feature that reportedly has 750 million monthly active users, appears to be an important channel for brands and a potential revenue driver for Tencent. WeChat launched a Moment’s in-feed ad function for the first time in January 2015. The firm later opened a second ad sloat in March 2018 and earlier in May, introduced a third one, KrASIA reported.

However, WeChat has been always cautious about posting ads to ensure a balance between the user experience and the commercial activity, market watchers said.

With the move, Tencent also intends to reduce its reliance on gaming revenues, after the Chinese government has been stepping up to tighten regulations over the country’s online gaming sector while also adding new stipulations about cyberspace protection.

Tencent generated RMB 16.4 billion (USD 2.3 billion) from online advertising in the second quarter of 2019, up 16% year on year, mainly driven by social advertising on WeChat Moments and QQ KanDian, an algorithm-driven entertainment news feed within messaging tool QQ, the company’s quarterly report showed. Meanwhile, media advertising revenues declined by 7% to USD 625 million.