Toutiao marketing: The China app succeeds in customer engagement
10 Jan , 2022

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With new Chinese digital marketing platforms emerging and existing platforms upgrading constantly, China’s digital landscape is exciting and challenging for marketers. Toutiao is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the Chinese digital field. It focuses on the aggregation and distribution of content. In this article, we will explore all about Toutiao and how to maximize Toutiao marketing effect.

What is Toutiao?

Owned by Bytedance, Toutiao is a Chinese content marketing platform comprising a wide variety of content creation, aggregation, and distribution. It is featured by machine learning algorithms and smart AI technology, which make Toutiao a powerful marketing platform and a popular China app to influence Chinese consumers for brand engagement and purchasing decisions.

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A quick digital user base knowledge on Toutiao:

  • Daily active users: 270+ million (2020)

  • Average time spent per day: 76 minutes

  • Average time users open the app per day: 9 times

  • Daily content views: 4.2 billion

  • Number of accounts: 1.1 million

  • #1 intelligent content distribution platform in China

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Number of monthly active users of the leading news apps in China as of March 2020 (in millions)

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Chinese users stay on Toutiao for an average of 76 minutes per day while the time people spend on WeChat is only 66 minutes. Also, people spend an average of 50 minutes on Facebook and an average of 30 minutes on Snapchat. The size and stickiness of the user base of Toutiao have been growing exponentially, clearly showcasing the potential of Toutiao marketing.

Why Toutiao app is a hit in China?

1. Diversity of engaging content on Toutiao

Toutiao is definitely a new traffic spot apart from the traditional search traffic. As an integrated information channel, Toutiao carries a wide variety of content formats such as news, images, videos, hot topics etc., fulfilling preferences of different audiences.

They also have a Q&A section, live streaming, and ‘short videos’ function to engage with users. Short videos have arisen as a new popular form of entertainment. Toutiao has taken advantage of specially produced video clips of 15-60s. It’s easy for users to indulge in the China app and watch videos one by one since they are usually engaging and match users’ interests.

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2. Toutiao’s social media intelligence

Toutiao is a new style of China media app. The most distinguishing feature of Toutiao is its “intelligent aggregating news feed”, with artificial intelligence being used to obtain and curate personalized daily news through its 4,000 partner sites, created by traditional journalists and social media influencers.

With technology, Toutiao keeps updating its huge repository of content from different media providers and serves as a central content platform for readers to consume with personification. Toutiao keeps refining its algorithms with an increasing user base – The more people use Toutiao, the more data people can contribute, and the better-fit content they will see.

Besides, Toutiao’s social media intelligence also filters out low quality content, such as false and fake content, and text documents that infringe copyright. In addition, metadata and hashtags are also very important as Toutiao will filter out the irrelevant ones for quality content distribution.

3. Personalized Toutiao user experience

Because of Toutiao's artificial intelligence and machine learning, it can tailor automated content to the needs and behaviours of individual users according to the unique interests and browsing histories of the audience.

Toutiao initially shows general content to first-time users, and then uses machine learning to understand readers’ browsing interests and preferences based on how readers interact with the China app. For example, how long did the Toutiao user spend on the story, what the user clicked on, the type of story the user read at a specific time of day, stop scrolling behaviours, and even location of the user. Users can also delete the feed that they are not interested in. Therefore, they can recommend articles that users want to read by using complex algorithms.

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Toutiao users no longer need to search for their favourite content. Toutiao will bring them to them. The result is a more personalized and outstanding user experience than any of its local competitors.

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Why brands should do Toutiao marketing?

1. Toutiao has quality and young user base

With users highly concentrated in first-tier or second-tier cities, more than half of Toutiao users are male, and more than 85% of the user population are between 18 and 30 years old. Toutiao users are also highly educated, with 41.3% of them holding a bachelor's degree or higher. More than 35% of users are freelancers, self-employed individuals, and private company owners.

From the above data, it can be seen that a considerable part of Toutiao users are young Chinese, who operate companies or serve as managers. This can be very valuable for Toutiao marketing in China.

2. Exposure to the right audience through Toutiao marketing

Toutiao has the most powerful recommendation algorithm and can easily bring your content to the most interested readers. The content platform has 270+ million active users who are eager to obtain information every day.

With this large and growing foundation, Toutiao marketing can help marketers accurately target new customers and obtain a large number of content display opportunities. A content marketing strategy that makes full use of Toutiao’s intelligent AI algorithm will get a considerable return on investment.

3. Toutiao has integrated social functions for digital marketing

Toutiao has also begun to provide social functions. It takes advantage and integrates with other successful social platforms in China. For example, users can register with their personal accounts on QQ, WeChat, and Weibo. By using AI, Toutiao analyses user behaviour by mainly accessing personal data. Users can also share their favourite headlines and articles through these platforms.

That gives publishers the chance to go viral both socially and through the Toutiao algorithm. Becoming a registered publisher of Toutiao is an easy way to start your business and grow it quickly. As long as the content is good, your story will be seen and spread.

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4. Toutiao’s advertising opportunities

Toutiao provides a more focused content marketing platform for you to enter the China market. Unlike WeChat and Weibousers, content consumption is the principal focus of Toutiao users. There are no additional functions like chatting to pull users away from the new content.

Toutiao integrates with popular Chinese short video platforms like Douyin and Xigua Video, providing users more choices for media consumption and also tools for brands to get creative and engage better with the Chinese customers.

With Toutiao investing ¥1 billion to commercialize itself, content creators are profited to create high-quality content and generate more value for the Toutiao users. KOLs are flooding Toutiao to produce more original articles and videos.

How can brands maximize Toutiao marketing effect?

1. Toutiao’s powerful ad targeting functionality

Toutiao provides a large and specific audience segments for ad targeting, including audience interest, demographic, keywords, locations, weather, occupation, Internet etc., with its location targeting being able to locate local customers under 6km. This is valuable for advertisers who have physical stores and want to target customers in specific geographic locations.

2. Toutiao’s retargeting based on audience behaviours

Apart from its targeting function, Toutiao’s machine learning algorithm provides a good platform for retargeting too. Digital marketers can track Toutiao users’ behaviours like reading through, clicking, and video watching, so as to expose ads only to audiences who have previously interacted with brand content. Moreover, different rates can be set for different levels of customer engagement. Brands can hit the target audience and convert better.

3. Toutiao’s lookalike audiences

By first uploading your audience list, digital marketers can easily target similar audiences through Toutiao marketing. The system will automatically recognize the similarity of the audience and create “lookalike” audiences based on users’ age, location, hobbies, etc. By leveraging this tool in Toutiao marketing, the target audience will easily double or triple.

4. Enhanced e-reputation by Toutiao Q&A marketing

Toutiao launched a Q&A channel because Chinese netizens love to spend time on their phones reading opinions and recommendations on different topics. On Toutiao Q&A, users can post questions and receive responses from the user community. The topics could be ranging from travel and retail, to health and wellness.

Brands can involve themselves in customers’ discussions to understand them more and solve problems, which showcases professionalism and build brand reputations. Depending answer relevancy and quality, brands have opportunities to display answer as new content in user’s feed too.

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Toutiao developed a conversational forum called Wukong that allows users to post questions and receive responses from the user community.

5. Toutiao advertising is cheap and effective

The most popular ad formats in Toutiao marketing are news banner ads, streaming feed ads, and app open-up ads. They support both pictures and videos. In terms of cost, Toutiao ads are quite reasonable compared to WeChat. The cost per click for most formats is between RMB 0.2-1.0, and WeChat advertising costs between RMB 2-5.

6. Comprehensive ad network under ByteDance

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Toutiao is owned by ByteDance, which also possesses products Douyin (TikTok), Xigua Video, Helo, Lark, Babe etc., forming a comprehensive ad network. With the range of other publishers, digital marketers can utilize the ad network and data for their ad targeting and placements, creating synergistic effect to maximize brand reach with audience accuracy.

7. Great content would boost brand engagements on Toutiao

Toutiao is a media platform with a recommendation system. How many exposures your content can get on Toutiao depends on how well the system understands your content. This requires the creator to know what his/her target users want and create appealing content that contains reader- and system-friendly keywords.

Good content will no longer suffice in this age of stiff competition. Your content has to be good because your target audience knows better now. They’re desperately searching for great content that will solve their problems. As long as they’re good, your stories will get seen by the target readers you want. Try your best to provide information customers can’t find anywhere else, with different content formats combined e.g. illustrations, infographics and videos for higher engagements.

Toutiao Marketing Summary

Toutiao stands out with its content intelligence, making itself one of the most powerful advertising platforms in China. With its 270+ million daily active users and extensive ad network, Touitiao can indeed provide digital marketers great potentials to enter the Chinese netizens. Click here to understand more on how AsiaPac helps on your Toutiao marketing journey.


About AsiaPac Net Media  

Being the official reseller of Toutiao and Douyin, AsiaPac is experienced in successfully expanding clients’ businesses to China. With an extensive digital marketing experience of serving more than 2,500 clients across Asia in sectors such as education, travel, and hospitality, finance, Government, and others, AsiaPac’s expert team is highly recognized for the excellence in providing performance-driven services to businesses across Asia, and global corporates targeting Asia markets. If you’d like to learn more about AsiaPac and the work we’ve done, visit our Work page. For more information on AsiaPac/ AdTech and our services, please contact us at info@asiapac.com.hk/info@adtechinno.com.