NEW YORK/SHANGHAI: Tencent’s market valuation overtaking that of Facebook lends added weight to a growing trend that has seen Chinese agencies expanding in the US to offer services to brands targeting the world’s second-biggest economy.

At one point on Tuesday, Chinese internet giant Tencent was valued at $534.5bn, CNBC reported, taking it past Facebook ($519.4bn) and putting it close to Amazon (542.7m).

Tencent has been seeking to move beyond China, making investments in the rest of Asia and also in the US, where it has taken stakes in Tesla and Snap.

Chinese agencies have been following a similar path, Digiday noted, as US brands, agencies and tech companies become increasingly interested China’s digital marketing landscape – partly because of the influence of Tencent and Alibaba.

“China is a testing ground for ideas to expand internationally,” Denise Sabet, managing director of Shanghai-based brand consultancy Labbrand, told Digiday.

Sabet herself moved to New York last year to set up Labbrand’s first US office, where it has created Chinese names for major Western brands, including Marvel, and Airbnb.

“You can’t limit to the US to learn things — you need to have a global perspective,” she stated.

Sabet added that “as Chinese brands are becoming more international, we are doing projects for them in Southeast Asia, Europe and the US.”

On the West Coast, meanwhile, Hylink, a Beijing-based independent digital agency, has opened an office, recruiting people with American media and agency experience to work with US clients.

Michael Horvitz, its director of strategic partnerships in sports and entertainment, explained that Hylink is focused on helping US brands buy media in China from the aforementioned Alibaba and Tencent as well as Baidu; Hylink buys no media at all in the US.

“We are also looking to acquire advertising tech companies in programmatic and artificial intelligence,” he added.

But not agencies. That doesn’t form part of its business model, unlike BlueFocus, the biggest agency network in China, which has expanded globally via mergers and acquisitions and whose COO has indicated an intention to buy more US companies.

Sourced from Digiday; additional content by WARC staff