Advertisements from online merchants on Alibaba’s e-commerce arm Tmall were seen to have landed in WeChat Moments. Also known as “Friend Circle”, it is a social-networking function where users can share and interact with public posts from their existing contacts, as per the Chinese e-commerce media platform Ebrun on 14 June.
By clicking the advert, users are directed to a specific online store through Tmall’s online sister shopping app Taobao, allowing a streamlined path to purchase by sources from Tencent’s super messaging app WeChat, an insider told Ebrun. This marks a further step forward in the interoperability relationship between the two Chinese tech giants as a result of the government’s push for a more open digital environment.
The timely move comes amid China’s mid-year e-commerce shopping festival “618” with festivities reaching a new high in the final phase which kick started on 15 June. A screenshot provided by the insider carries words such as “Tmall flagship store”, and “Tmall 618” with the brand’s iconic cat logo. Discounts and special offers were also visible on the advert card.
It is understood that users who have already installed the Tmall app will be taken directly to a corresponding Tmall store, whilst those who haven’t will be directed to a Taobao page. This means WeChat has opened the door for Alibaba to reach its 780 million regular “Friend Circle” visitors. With WeChat owning a user base of over one billion, this little plug-in could potentially be another revenue accelerator for merchants on Tmall and Taobao as well as the two online shopping platforms.
On the other hand, it has been reported that the marketing tool is not yet open to independent retailers and currently only brand users are eligible for such services. Marketers who wish to present their commercials on WeChat Moments will have to apply to Uni Desk (UD), a global marketing platform established by Alibaba’s digital marketing division Alimama.
While the system is still undergoing internal trials and has not yet been rolled out to all retailers, it is also only available during special promotional seasons, like the ongoing “618”. Unlike the traditional web advertising process, the marketing feature will not be sold by the host (WeChat), rather brands are required to be proactive in applying, and those who are eligible will be added to a “Whitelist” by Tencent, according to an advertising service provider.