In China, every tech giant is trying to build their own ecosystem, literally. The goal is to keep users on their platform for as long as possible. Just today, WeChat release their new v6.5.8 on iOS, which includes two new and remarkable functions “Take a search(搜一搜)” and “Take a look(看一看)”.
Sorry, but international WeChat users will probably not see this update for a while.
These new functions are shown as ”WeChat experiment” and users has to manually switch them on before they can start to explore them. Once users choose to active these two new features, they will be listed in the main navigation under Moments.
Take a Look (看一看)
Similar to Toutiao, Take a Look will curate and recommend highly relevant contents based on how the user behaves on WeChat. In other words, instead looking into each subscription account to find the latest content, users can just click into “Take a Look” to read the most relevant contents from the official accounts they’ve subscripted to, from what is liked by their friends, and even relevant contents from other official accounts they’ve never subscripted to.
Take a Look uses AI and recommends contents to users based on their browser history, friends and moments, expense (WeChat pay), and geographic info. Yes, they are trying to take a market share from Toutiao now.
Here is an example of Take a Look results on WeChat:
“Take a Look” is an upgraded from an old WeChat feature called “What’s Hot in Moments”, but now it is able to explore more than just contents that you’ve subscribed to. However as above image indicates, content from accounts that the user subscripted to will be marked with an orange tag “subscripted”
Take a Search (搜一搜)
Search is not new to WeChat, it is actually an old feature on WeChat, but with the results you search on WeChat was limited only to contains created within WeChat. With Take a Search, you can now search for results from even outside of WeChat content ecosystem.
For example, if you search “King Arthur”, the results will come from sources like Sougou Baike (Sogou Wiki), Renmin Wang(人民网), Sina News, Zhihu, Douban, WeChat official accounts, popular content from Moments, or just web pages.
The result may include all quality content from the internet of China and considering that there are 938 million active users per month (based on WeChat 2017 Q1 report), this is new Take a Search feature might actually become a big problem for Baidu.
Here is an example of Take a Search results on WeChat:
In our opinion, this is a bold me on WeChat’s end to take to invade both Toutiao and Baidu. And it is probably safe to assume once these features become more solidify and not just experiments. WeChat will attempt to monetize.
If that the case you can be the on “Take a Look” the ad formats might be very similar to that of Toutiao and on “Take a Search” the ad format will be similar to that of Baidu.
However, it is too early to say, there is still a long way to go to compete with Toutiao and Baidu with these two new features, but with existing huge amount of WeChat users, nothing is impossible.
One thing we do have to say is, if you’re marketing to China then having a WeChat account is that much more critical. If you’re going to make a website, then make sure the site is WeChat compatible.