How to Get The Best ROI with Advertising on Weibo
March 25, 2015 |

600 million registered users. 167 million monthly users. 69.7 million daily users. This is Sina Weibo. While the people are certainly there, how do you effectively reach them? Weibo gives you two options - Fengsitong (in-stream ads) and KOLs (key opinion leaders).


The purpose of Fengsitong is for companies to push out information about their brand. Fengsitong appears at the top of the live stream and the ad is only shown to users once. The best way to keep users engaged is to regularly update your posts. Also, you can reach your desired audience based on characteristics from their profile.

There are two types of Fengsitong available. One is based on cost per thousand of views (CPM) and the other option is based on cost per engagement (CPE). Engagement counts as clicking on the link, sharing the post, or even following the company. Both these options follow a bidding system. The minimum bidding price for CPM is $0.016 and for CPE it’s $0.0016. While that seems low, bids must be higher than the starting price set by Weibo. Companies can set daily budgets to monitor expenses. The Fengsitong system is rather straightforward. The greater the reach, the greater the cost.   


Another option to reach Weibo users is to partner with a KOL. The pricing structure and effectiveness of this partnership is variable, making its reliability in attracting followers dependent on the quality of the KOL. Chinese people value recommendations. They are more likely to purchase a product if it has been recommended to them by a friend or heavily discussed on social media.

Partnering with a KOL doesn’t run cheap. Posts from lesser-known influencers can cost somewhere between $500 and $5,000, while partnerships with Tier 1 KOLs, like Han Han or Yao Chen, can set you back millions of dollars. Though the cost of a KOL partnership is high, it can be a huge return on investment if you choose the right KOL.

There are four types of KOLs. At the top are celebrities, followed by organizations, experts in the field, and hobbyists. KOLs with a large following don’t always mean they are the best KOLs to work with. It is important to make sure their fan base isn’t inflated with zombie fans. Do your research before entering a partnership and ensure that your KOL has legitimate experience and matches with your brand’s image. In fact, it’s best to align with someone who has experience in negotiating KOL relationships. That way you can be confident that your KOL will expertly speak to your intended audience.


While sponsored ads are a great way to push your company’s brand in a cost effective way, they can often be overlooked. At the same time, KOLs are influential voices with a vast network, but their loyalty can wane and their fanbase can be misleading. Ultimately, the amount spent and the area spent must be representative of your company’s goal.

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