Jie Zhang is a Chinese entrepreneur, consultant, and CEO of AdChina. He currently lives in Norway and works at AdChina.io. He started his career at Huawei, getting to the operational level in countries across Europe. In 2014 he did an MBA at INSEAD, where he met many interesting people. From there, he decided to quit the corporate world and move into the entrepreneurial world. In 2015 he founded GoDigitalChina, a media agency, and in 2017, this became AdChina.io, a platform that does digital marketing in China simple and familiar to Western brand’s digital marketing teams. AdChina.io is operating on a SaaS basis. They employ about 20 people across the world and received backing from two Norwegian VCs. They have over 100 clients.
“We wanted to make digital advertising in China simple to use and familiar to western advertisers. So, in terms of easiness of use, we are similar to Google Ads or Facebook ads. Because the digital advertising systems are different in China, it is frustrating for western digital marketers. They get strange reports and they don’t understand the data. So we make digital advertising in China easier for them.”Jie Zhang, CEO of AdChina
Why is AdChina.io important for foreign brands in China?
AdChina.io is important for brands that want to do digital marketing in China. It has APIs on all the available major social media platforms. The AdChina platform is designed to be familiar to western digital marketers. Many Chinese social media platforms release data incomprehensible to western companies that want to do digital marketing in China. AdChina makes the process easier and more transparent by disclosing all the processes involved and not outsourcing most of the work to other companies.
AdChina also has a straightforward pricing policy. As a SaaS platform, they charge a monthly fee. They charge a slightly higher fee than competitors for the monthly subscription, but they take a slightly lower share of the client’s ad spend. The more premium the monthly package, the lower their share of the client’s ad expenditure. They also offer a free trial period of 30 days with no subscription required. Jie Zhang advises companies that want to do digital marketing in China to try the free trial period and see which platforms work best for their brand before deciding to commit serious funding to digital marketing campaigns in China.
“We have 4 different prices. Clients can use a free trial period of one month where we take 20% of ad spend. There is a starter option of 99 usd per month plus we take 12.5%, then there is the ‘growth plan package and the “scale plan” package. The scale plan goes up 699 usd per month plus 7.5% of ad spend.”Jie Zhang, CEO of AdChina
What social media channels should your brand focus on when doing digital marketing in China?
According to Jie Zhang, not having a multi-channel approach to digital marketing in China is a foolish endeavor. Different channels supply different data to brands. Some channels are easier to work with. Others are more difficult, like LinkedIn or almost completely closed off like Weibo (don’t offer APIs for outside digital marketing agencies to work with).
WeChat offers the most precise targeting and segmentation of consumers but is also the most expensive channel to work with.
Baidu is the cheapest, but China is not a search-centric country because Western consumers rely on Google to find the products/ services they require.
The best method is to gently and cheaply ease your way onto as many social media channels as possible before hunkering down and working with the channels that give your brand the most bang for its buck. AdChina.io believes this is the best method and makes this process as simple as possible through its easy-to-use platform.
“Our clients often try out our platform as a kind of market survey to test if there is market for their product. A common mistake when businesses do digital advertising in China is to rush in and try to advertise on every social platform and make big decisions early. They need to treat it as a slower process, make the important decisions later on, fail fast and fail cheap. That is why our platform is a good way to test the test the waters in China.”Jie Zhang, CEO of AdChina