After WeChat allowed official account owners to set up shop on Weixin — the version of its popular messaging app offered in China — it is now offering even more options by opening up access to its advertising platform (as first spotted by Tech in Asia). The system is still in open beta and only open to official accounts with more than 100,000 followers, which lets WeChat gather feedback and make necessary improvements.

The ads within Weixin will be in the form of a text link at the bottom of an official account page that users already follow (which they have to click through to read), so there’s no cause for concern about random ads showing up in their chat inboxes.

WeChat Ads 1 730x394 Brands on Chinese messaging app WeChat can now reach users via its self serve advertising platform

WeChat says that official account owners can target ads according to gender, age and region in order to gain more potential users. They can then monitor the ad performance in the statistics section — including the exposure level, click-through rate, and revenue earned — then adjust the ads accordingly to increase the effectiveness.

WeChat Ads 2 730x483 Brands on Chinese messaging app WeChat can now reach users via its self serve advertising platform

WeChat’s advertising efforts come as it works to create a ‘sticky’ platform where users not only send messages to one another, but can also play games, and shop and buy things without having to leave the app. In particular, as WeChat is increasing its focus on e-commerce, advertising plays an even more important role to entice users to click through and make purchases.

Just last month, Tencent pursued its e-commerce ambitions by paying $736 million for a 19.9 percent stake in ‘China’s Craigslist’ 58.com, which will see 58.com’s services being integrated into Tencent’s networks including WeChat.

This came after Tencent took a 15 percent stake in Chinese online retailer JD.com back in March, and followed that up with an additional five percent stake after its recent US IPO, which raised $1.78 billion. The agreement revealed that Tencent would support JD in its e-commerce business by offering priority access points in its chat platforms including WeChat, and as Technode reported, JD was recently added into WeChat as the official shopping channel.

Headline image via Bryanlyt