Made In Russia Go Viral with Smart Video Campaign in China

‘Made in Russia’ the Government Approved Label for Russian Products this month launched a new campaign on Chinese local platforms with the aim of increasing both exposure & the reputation around products & services ‘Made In Russia’.

The campaign is smart because of the pre-dominance of video content with higher engagement rates on local video streaming platforms.

This new trend in video focused campaigns in China marketing is certainly here to stay. Let’s take a look at this video centric approach, what can brands & businesses learn?

Video Dominates in China

In short Video is effective, Weibo is a super smart social tool & targeted media buying coupled with DSP works for a large-scale brand effort on this scale.

Additionally it’s evidence that a News Based Approach through DSP really does drive qualified engagement, being newsworthy with the rise of News APPs & Aggregators in China is becoming a vital component of campaigns.

This report is based on a single week of marketing activity, it’s presented to demonstrate the incredible power of viral content in the vast digital eco-system that is modern China.

A Multi-Channel Approach

This campaign was co-ordinated across multiple channels including;

  • Weibo
  • Youku
  • Tencent
  • Meipai
  • KOL’s
  • WeChat
  • WeChat Groups

A holistic approach like this is smart when reaching audiences on different platforms, there is also a strong element of cross promotion (particularly across video based platforms) that helped create a strong ‘echo chamber effect’ in this campaign. Multiple exposures on multiple platforms increases the legitimacy of content as well as engagement and click through rates.

660.000 views on Tencent Video

Video Sharing Platforms Create a Huge Response

Made in Russia produced quality content for their China specific promotional video.

The video is featured on platforms including Youku, IQIYI & Meipai. Youku & IQIYI drove the highest video views with 227,000 + & 233,000 + respectively in the first week of their launch. By week two the views increased by almost threefold to 788,000 + on Youku & 502,000 + on IQIYI. In terms of pure exposure this is a hugely successful result.

Meipai as China’s largest Video App was utilized in the first week for 100,000 + exposures but funds were re-directed into IQIYI & Youku based on video views & far higher click rates.

 Why does Video lend itself to Viral Content?

Video reduces ‘bounce rates’, that is traffic impressing upon the content but then not engaging and being re-directed. Video has a more instant sense of attraction with viewers more likely to commit to watching a short video than read an entire article.

Increased engagement rates is an element of viral content but ultimately what drives mass engagement is platform specific. In this case IQIYI & Youku are perfect platforms for media buying, user to user sharing and ‘motion banners’, that is incorporating video into ‘call to action’ ad space itself.

It’s not a China-specific approach but China have an arguably more developed infrastructure for video based ad content.

 Weibo Video Promotion

Weibo is China’s second largest social network with over 350 million MAU’s and 550 million + registered accounts.  Video views reached almost 2 million in a single week (1,720,000). It is evident that Weibo is still a hugely effective network for marketing strategies.

Remember, Weibo is an ‘Open Network’, users don’t have to be connected to see content, particularly that which is trending.

The Weibo video is up-ranked in the following ways;

  • Number of Shares
  • Number of Comments
  • Number of Likes
  • Engagement Frequency

 Weibo offers a smooth user experience with embedded video’s in the news feed that play automatically when scrolling over them.

Weibo is typically not a platform to generates a lot of ‘likes’ but it certainly drove high engagement levels with the content. Consider that 1,720,000 direct video views (from the Made in Russia account) translated into 750+ reposts, 600 + comments and 1000 + likes for each account post in the first week.

Video content increased that engagement and led to the video trending on the Weibo ‘Discover’ Tab, that is trending news presented by Sina Weibo by category.

157,000 views on the video on Weibo’s video streaming service specifically.

Weibo KOL’s

KOL’s are typically associated with Weibo because it is an open network, this lends itself to viral content. In this campaign Made in Russia engaged with ‘Funny General’ (see screenshot below) a comedic and light-hearted influencer. 3 consecutive posts over a week reached over 2,095,000 views. This highlights the importance of KOL engagement but also the selection of the right KOL.

The KOL has to be relevant for both the content type & the brand. Weibo was a great platform with established KOL’s, active audiences and a strong connection to video based content.

Example KOL Post from the Campaign

Youku Campaign

 Youku is a platform of growing importance as the video plays a more dominant role in marketing activites.

 Youku is ‘China’s Youtube’ in many ways, the ad infrastructure is pretty similar & the presentation of video with suggested links also lends itself to continued browsing and engagement.

The key difference, of course, is that searching for video content is based on Mandarin search algorithms and keyword selection (no surprises there).

Traffic was driven through ‘hot area’ ads, this is paid promotion in ‘hot’ content suggestions for users with paid display & banner also placed here. The strategy is to create a buzz around the video at first point of contact, these display ads are a core component of this.

Video views on Youku alone reached 1,599,757 

Youku Engagement

Youku comments on the video are an important element of the campaign, particularly when promoting peer to peer video sharing. Comment number has an impact on further engagement with hundreds of users sharing their thoughts, conversation increases repeat engagement with a video as users receive notifications as others reply to their original post.

A high level of comment engagement on a Youku Video also has the effect of reinforcing it’s popularity and legitimizing the content. On viral campaigns it’s all about this snowball effect.


IQIYI is China’s largest video platform with a reported 450 million MAU’s. Video content on IQIYI is highly accessible with banner/DSP ads facilitating the traffic funnel.

IQIYI differentiates itself in terms of a quality user experience as well as it’s multiple services in music and content streaming, this allows for some cross promotion in terms of multi-channel traffic.

The IQIYI element of the campaign was a huge success with 1,420,000 views in a week, a slightly lower figure than achieved on Youku but with China’s unique platform eco-systems it’s important to consider multiple video channels to tap into different audience segments.

Made in Russia Trending on IQIYI

 WeChat Influencer & Group Integration

WeChat is a key way of tapping into the social pulse of China through specific groups based around interests. Whilst boasting 987 million + monthly users this platform is a closed network, in order to share content outside of a network multiple groups and communities built around influencers can be leveraged.

In terms of group sharing within a week period 200,000 post views had been reached in community groups, posts can be shared from individual user accounts into group chats, this is evidently a highly social approach with community animation needed to drive video click through (21,000 on first post series alone).

A 10% conversion rate from post view to video clicks is the testament to WeChat’s influence with highly engaged consumers curious about group posted content. Call’s to action, multiple accounts to create conversation & re-posting/sharing into highly active groups was the bed-rock of this strategy.

Post views from KOL re-posts reached 220,000. These impressionable followings had a key impact on WeChat exposure.

As you can see below, content needs to be formatted in HTML5 for the WeChat ecosystem with the creation of QR codes and personalized banners when it comes to branded links.

A banner series for ‘Made in Russia’ featured iconic elements of Russian culture, indeed national, nation-hood identity branding remains a popular way of branding products as international in a market sensitive to Western quality goods & services.

Users engage and interact with Video content, high number of likes on trending comments from other users is evidence for real engagement, users would not just watch the content but share and recognize other’s comments.

Lower Response on Meipai Leads to a Change of Strategy

KOL Posts on Meipai, China’s leading UGC (User Generated Content) Video Platform

 Meipai is a smart APP for user generated content sharing, there are some official video’s but 70% of content is peer to peer based. It is a popular platform for sharing & delivered 295,000 video views in a single week, however when compared to Youku & IQIYI it was less effective.

In a viral video campaign of this nature the priority is impressions and video click through rates, it was felt that with such a huge response on other video platforms that budget was best spent on further leveraging DSP ads to increase traffic quantity there.

It’s important to remain flexible and focus on what’s working most effectively in any given campaign.

Meipai promotion centred around Influencers on the platform sharing the video to their followers, this is still a developing platform in terms of Influencer communities, still the USP of Meipai is UGC rather than official, high quality video.


To Conclude; Video is King  

It’s an obvious conclusion but after breaking down the figures per channel you can see rather extra-ordinary engagement rates, the key is to curate quality content and ensure you understand deeply where best to place and up-promote this.

It’s a tight rope to walk as you create impressions/exposure in line with building the reputation of the video to create a greater impression in itself.

A fascinating campaign that proves that viral content is still highly possible in the Chinese eco-system with little previous visible providing the budget & vision is there.

Who are GMA?

We are one of China’s leading Media Buying Agency with over 350+ projects under our belt. We’re an international team of 42 with a wealth of experience in branding, ecommerce, lead generation and platform set-up.

We can be your local team on the ground & represent your interests in the Chinese digital sphere. Our consultants look forward to speaking with you.  

Further Reading; 

Guide to Localizing Content Marketing in China

Top Marketing Insights, Interview with China Specialist Jynn Wang

Digital The Key for Brands to Export to China