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Messaging Apps TenCent China

Tencent courts UK agencies to ramp-up Western WeChat partners


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

April 5, 2016 | 3 min read

Tencent is actively approaching UK media agencies as part of a push on the development of its ad business globally.

In an email seen by The Drum, Tencent is reaching out to UK media agencies to discuss the opportunities around its popular messaging app WeChat. Other agencies have had relationships with the business prior to this, particularly where the agency has a strong presence in Asia.

A Tencent spokesperson, said: “Yes, we are more active for developing advertising business this year, and Tencent International Business Group always works close with most of the global media agencies in different markets. Tencent is open to work with different business partners and advertising business one of the key focuses of the company.”

The lure of almost 700 million users in China is appealing to many global brands. High profile advertisers from outside Asia like Burberry and Nike have already had success on WeChat and continue to invest in the platform.

Jerry Daykin, digital partner at Carat, said brands with regional experience could be keen to build on this, should scale open up more globally.

"Messenger apps are booming and whilst WhatsApp and Messenger are only making very tentative commercial moves, the leading Asian apps (notably WeChat and Line) have serious advertising opportunities today. I think global-minded marketers are already keen to tap into them for their immediate regional scale, but the really forward thinking ones are building up learnings they'll be able to reapply globally when those opportunities open up,” he said.

Commercially, Messenger and Whatsapp could become fast-followers of the Asian messaging apps, however. A recent slip in Facebook Messenger code revealed that payments may be coming soon. It’s nowhere near the level of ecosystem that the likes of WeChat, Line and Kakao Talk have created, but it could stymie WeChat’s growth overseas.

Jess Rowntree, director at Havas Media’s social unit Socialyse, said: “As for what'll make UK brands turn to WeChat ahead of Messenger, that's the challenging bit. A lot of WeChat's success in China comes from the fact that there isn't an FB to compete with. WeChat was way ahead of the curve in integrating goods and services into the messaging arena, now that Facebook is following suit, it'll be much harder to convince advertisers to abandon the well-established mass reach of FB for a relative newcomer (in the UK, at least) like WeChat.

With that in mind, the big opportunity is WeChat to lead the way in innovation as online messaging develops and grows, as it inevitably will, to encompass more and more of consumers online lives. Innovation and not reach is what will make WeChat stand apart,” she added.

Messaging Apps TenCent China

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