WeChat has introduced Guangdiantong (GDT), the self-service advertising system currently used for Tencent’s some other social properties, to place display ads in content by Subscription Accounts. It is in testing with several selected accounts and will be open for application after the Chinese New Year holiday.

Since WeChat has become the hottest social platform in China — the last hottest, Sina Weibo, seems suffering steep decline in popularity, the majority of Chinese media have created Subscription Accounts to reach and engage audiences who now are reading articles through the almighty WeChat. Some freelance writers now are using WeChat as their primary publishing platform. A few have gone even further that managed to attract advertisers to place display ads in their articles.

GDT, launched in 2011, so far is used on Q-zone (social network) and Pengyou (real-name social network) that enables advertisers, after successfully bidding on ad space, to show ads to targeted audiences. Advertisers can choose where (ad slots on different sites/webpages), whom (gender, age, location and so on) and when (which days or what time of day) to show their ads. As ads can also be placed within third-party applications on those Tencent’s social sites, GDT shares ad revenues with them.

The product manager of GDT for WeChat told me that it works differently from the GDT system on other platforms. As what can be shown in the mobile pages by Subscription Accounts is limited — only text and image allowed — the ads cannot be more than simple display ads.

It’s unknown when or what a percentage of the advertising revenues Tencent will share with third-party publishers. But publishers that heard about the news today feel encouraging. There are other players, such as Sohu and Sina, are also building mobile platforms for third-party publishers and promised to share income with them. But today no one thinks anyone could be so powerful as WeChat.

Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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