A Guide to Toutiao Marketing: The Buzz Feed of China

China is a huge market, but it’s also a challenging one for brands and marketers. In this guide, we’ll explore what you need to know about marketing on Toutiao – China’s largest news app and social media platform with over 300 million monthly active users, and how they have been able to grow their user base by creating content that resonates with Chinese internet users.

What is Toutiao?

Toutiao could well be touted as the ‘Buzz Feed of China’ although there are many fundamental differences in how they operate. Toutiao is to some degree a ‘news app’ or more specifically a ‘news aggregator’ which now boasts more than 300 million monthly active users (MAUs) and has been valued at $20 bn.

Toutiao Marketing: info

It is owned by ByteDance and acts as a news aggregator. With content receiving 4.2 billion views every day, it is considered the # 1 platform for content delivery. Toutiao is, therefore, an excellent database of consumer information and one of the best Chinese apps for targeted advertising. Toutiao users are usually very engaged and there is a huge portion of daily active users that are actually actively watching Toutiao ads while reading the news.

The key to Toutiao’s success is Personalized Recommendation. Toutiao has even referred to itself as a ‘Recommendation Engine’. Its particularity is that it is integrated with artificial intelligence and machine learning software, which create a personalized newsfeed for each user. In this way, Toutiao users see what best suits the content they have interacted with in the past.

The App was founded in 2012 and in many ways has become one of the ‘tech unicorns’ in the China market with such a high valuation and strong user base.

Who uses this app in China?

Thanks to the fact that Toutiao has various content types and is very personalised, it’s audience comes from all age groups and interests. But it’s important to know that 85% of users are under 35 years old. Most of them attended and graduated from universities, and they are usually rather rich, coming from first and second-tier cities.

What are the main opportunities for brands

  • Private publishers, official media, brands, and blogs;
  • Advertising revenue is shared with the creator of the content;
  • No need to follow an account to see its contents: there is excellent exposure potential;
  • Toutiao launched a new channel called Q&A, an open discussion community. Registered users can share their experiences and opinions in specific fields under questions and interact with other users. Toutiao then recommends answers to users in its news feed and Q&A channel.
  • There are no distractions (no messages or social features)

Why is Toutiao so Successful in China?

Despite only 8 years of activity, Toutiao is growing incredibly fast, this is largely due to the Toutiao app being a pure mobile product that taps into China’s tenacity of mobile & mobile-optimized content.

The high valuation of the app at $20 bn has created a huge buzz around the potential of this player in the Chinese market.

An advertising shift from “pull to push”

Active Chinese search engine platforms research (PULL Info) will never be redundant on Baidu (China’s Google). Baidu still presides over 70% of the search engine market with a presence here still important in a serious marketing campaign.

However, Toutiao & other similar news apps are catering to the demand in China for PUSH, which means the content is pushed to users based on their preferences, selected categories, and browsing history.

Toutiao with its algorithm and intelligent aggregating news feed to collate data is at the cutting edge of targeted pushed-based content and sets a precedent for stronger demand for this in China.

Toutiao is revolutionizing news aggregation through intelligent technology

Toutiao stands apart with its innovative “intelligent news aggregator,” powered by artificial intelligence and a vast network of partner websites, spanning from traditional journalists to influencers. This dynamic collaboration tailors a personalized daily news feed, leveraging AI algorithms that analyze user behaviors and preferences.

This approach not only curates an engaging news experience but also establishes an emotional connection with readers, fostering loyalty and reshaping news consumption. Toutiao’s fusion of AI-driven curation and diverse content sources redefines how news is consumed and showcases the transformative potential of intelligent technology in shaping our digital interactions.

Advertisers benefit from targeted “push content”

News apps such as Toutiao have a wealth of data on users’ preferences for content, news, articles, and conversation topics. Users select specific categories based on preferences.

This is a powerful tool for advertising, simply because your ad can be pushed to a user’s feed, it also appears in line with relevant news & entertainment content that is TAILORED to the end-user, which results in a more TARGETED ADVERTISING.

Not simply a news app, it is more of an entertainment app

The key difference between Toutiao and the other Apps is that: 60% of content on the App is entertainment-based.

This is not a typical news product, but rather a mobile reading & entertainment platform. These types of content (sometimes called ‘soft content’) can be appealing for brands if their products are in the lifestyle, FMCG, or entertainment spheres.

If your content is focused on ‘harder’ or more ‘intellectual/serious’ topics, news apps such as Tencent, Sina, or Sohu News may well be a better choice.

Ensure you speak with an expert consultant on the best platforms for your business.

Toutiao embraces the Facebook model

Toutiao is akin in some ways to Facebook’s news feed and has embraced the Facebook model of advertising. That means exposure to content in line with ads and relevant to that content and to the users’ previous preferences/online behavior.

toutiao create account china digital marketing

As for the FB news feed, it is more entertainingly rich than intellectually focused, however, this has allowed Toutiao to differentiate itself from other players in a very competitive space.

It is also interesting because Tencent’s WeChat, the largest network in the Middle Kingdom, has not adopted the Facebook model.

Recommendations are very accurate

A USP of Toutiao is that it offers more content and is more accurate than traditional news apps for tailored content to the user (remember this also means tailored ads).

Even if an editor does not curate a platform like BuzzFeed content, the supply of content is endless and recommended according to your reading history, not by individuals.

It is an addictive process for the Chinese user as over time recommendations on the app become more targeted. The Algorithm has become more accurate in terms of tailored content, it’s a virtuous cycle with more users leading to better-targeted content.

How to Promote a Brand with Toutiao Marketing?

There are many different options for digital marketers and brands, depending on your budget and needs. You can start from organic marketing and focus on content creation, start a Toutiao brand account, and later on invest in Toutiao advertising on this focused content marketing platform. Let’s see how to do it right.

Toutiao Official Accounts

Toutiao has developed official accounts for posting content/articles on the platform. They are reportedly achieving higher read rates than typical WeChat accounts, likely because Toutiao is not a closed network, users do not have to be connected first to view content from an Official Account.

The added bonus is that Toutiao is not a competitive arena for content yet (when compared to Weibo or WeChat).

This is an advantage for investing in a strong Toutiao reputation with strong evidence of further platform growth.

Content Customization: Tailor to Toutiao’s User Preferences

Understanding the diverse preferences, interests, and behaviors of Toutiao’s expansive user base is a cornerstone of a successful strategy. By customizing your content to align with what resonates most with your target audience, you ensure that your message holds relevance and value.

Imagine a food brand seeking to thrive on Toutiao. They meticulously analyze Toutiao’s diverse user base, discovering a keen interest in culinary diversity. Consequently, they craft articles showcasing global cuisines, tailoring content to Toutiao’s audience. As a result, their articles on “Exploring Exotic Flavors” or “Mastering International Dishes” gain significant traction, resonating with users’ love for culinary adventures.

Effective Headlines and Visual Content

Crafting headlines that are not only informative but also compelling and intriguing can set the stage for increased clicks and engagement. The art of creating an attention-grabbing headline lies in combining the right mix of curiosity, emotion, and value proposition, enticing users to delve deeper into your content.

Another important element of good content is images and videos. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and nowhere is this truer than on Toutiao. Utilizing impactful visuals can help your content stand out in a sea of text-based information.

Incorporating high-quality images, infographics, and videos can visually communicate your message, evoke emotion, and create a lasting impression. Visual appeal not only captures attention but also enhances the overall user experience, making your content more memorable and shareable.

Influencer collaborations on Toutiao

In a landscape where trust and authenticity play a crucial role, collaborating with influencers can significantly enhance your brand’s credibility. Partnering with influencers who have established themselves as thought leaders or authorities in your industry allows you to tap into their existing audience base. Their endorsement adds an extra layer of trust to your brand’s message, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversions. By carefully selecting influencers whose values align with your brand, you create an avenue for amplified reach and meaningful connections.

Toutiao Advertising

One of the most potent tools at your disposal is advertising on Toutiao. Toutiao advertising is a strategic gateway to put your brand in front of a vast and diverse audience. It empowers you to tailor your message and visuals for maximum impact, ensuring your content reaches users who are most likely to engage with it. Whether you’re a burgeoning startup or an established corporation, Toutiao advertising provides a level playing field to compete for user attention.

Main Types of Toutiao Ads

Toutiao offers diverse ad formats to suit different marketing goals and user experiences. Here are the primary ad types you can leverage:

Streaming Feed Ads

Streaming feed ads seamlessly integrate into users’ content feeds, appearing as native content. They are particularly effective in capturing users’ attention as they scroll through their personalized feeds.

News Banner Ads

News banner ads are displayed prominently within Toutiao’s news articles, ensuring high visibility. These ads are effective for delivering concise messages or promotions.

App-Open-Up Ads

App-open-up ads (also called launch screen ads) are interactive and engaging. When users click on a launch screen ad, they can be redirected to an app download page or an interactive in-app experience.

Each of these ad formats offers unique advantages, allowing you to tailor your advertising strategy to your brand’s objectives and user preferences. Whether you seek to drive conversions, boost brand awareness, or foster user engagement, Toutiao advertising provides the flexibility and reach necessary to accomplish your goals.

Lead Generation - Toutiao Native ads - sell real estate in China

Costs of advertising on Toutiao

The costs associated with Toutiao advertising can vary widely, depending on several factors. These include your campaign objectives, target audience, ad format, and bid strategy. Typically, Toutiao advertising operates on a bidding system, where advertisers set their maximum bid for clicks or impressions.

Besides the most common CPM (it is good to stimulate brand awareness and brand engagement) and CPC (cost for a click, it is good to stimulate conversions), Toutiao provides 4 innovative ways for the advertiser:

  • OCPC(Optimized Cost per Click) is the same as CPC with paying per click, yet it additionally introduces an estimated conversion ratio based on audience behavior into its bidding model. The way advertisers benefit from it is that they can achieve the same conversion goal with less cost.
  • OCPM(Optimized Cost per Millennium) runs on the same mechanism.
  • CPA(Cost Per Acquisition) means advertisers pay only when the conversion(set by advertiser) is completed.
  • CPV (Cost Per View) only supports video ads. It counts a view when the video ad has played for 10 seconds.

What are the main benefits of Toutiao Push Ads?

  • Pushed Ads to more targeted Users;
  • Ads appear in-feed, they are therefore more qualified and newsworthy;
  • There is a strong culture of clicking on ads on Toutiao

Ad content can be linked to HTML5 contact forms for lead generation OR be used to drive traffic; it is a flexible opportunity with CPM (Cost Per 1000 Impressions) of between 20-25 RMB.

It is worth noting here that Toutiao is focusing on developing video ad content for in-feed marketing strategy, this could be interesting in terms of increasing Click Through Rates, Engagement & Exposure time.

Start Leveraging Toutiao With Our Expertise!

In short, it’s looking bright! With more targeted in-feed ads/DSP opportunities as well as a growing user base Toutiao remains a promising platform for ad budgets.

With a model more akin to Facebook it is logical that Toutiao will attempt to develop in this direction with a stronger news feed and monetization via ads (e.g video ad development).

Do you want to develop your strategy on Toutiao? Contact Gma.

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We are a team of native digital experts based in Shanghai, have a deep insight into this fascinating market, and stay ahead of the curve. If you have a serious project for the Chinese market you can consider news app ads, contact us for a meeting with one of our consultants. We also work extensively in the following areas;  

  • Baidu SEO/PPC
  • WeChat Development 
  • Weibo Marketing
  • Chinese Content
  • PR/Media Exposure
  • Targeted Forums and blogs (niche markets)
  • E-commerce set up & branding
  • Lead Generation Services on Multiple Platforms

In the ever-evolving landscape of Toutiao marketing, Gentlemen Marketing Agency is your dedicated companion, guiding your brand toward unparalleled success. With our expertise, tailored strategies, and commitment to excellence, we empower you to make the most of Toutiao’s dynamic environment.

Choose us as your Toutiao marketing partner, and let’s embark on a journey to captivate, engage, and thrive on this versatile platform together. Contact us today!


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