A golden marketing rule is to follow where your customers go, engage with their online behavior and use the channels they use to deliver your products to them directly. Western companies looking to break into the Chinese market often run into the issue of how to reach consumers, and a great place to start is on one of the biggest avenues of all – Baidu. But what is Baidu, and how can businesses effectively use the Baidu search engine?
What is Baidu?
Sometimes known as the ‘Chinese Google’, Baidu fulfills a very similar function. Compared to Google though, Baidu started offering to advertise first and turned its first profit within four years only. With 80% of the internet search market in China, Baidu is by far the largest search engine around in the country. While internet searches are its primary function, it also operates variety of services e.g. a music service (Baidu Music), Baidu Space (a social network), Baidu Games, Baidu Yi (an OS), Qunar (a bookings service), a maps service (Baidu Map) and an online encyclopedia (Baidu Baike). It was founded in 2000 by two entrepreneurs in Beijing, and its name literally means “countless”.
What is Baidu’s limit?
As it is the primary search engine in China, its audience is massive – with over 600 million users. It has a similarly massive advertising roster as a result, with over 650,000 paying companies signed up. While Baidu’s online penetration worldwide is only 7.4% (in comparison to Google’s massive 80%) its dominance of the Chinese market means that if you want to reach China, you have to use Baidu. It is a massive business concern. When it went public in 2005 its first day of trading saw its shares increase in value by 354% – making CEO Robin Li a multi-billionaire and the wealthiest man in China by 2013.
What about the analytic side of Baidu?
The best method of collecting accurate analytics from a Baidu campaign is to use online analytics software, but the bad news is that Google Analytics code is incompatible with local sites and would cause them to run slowly. Luckily, there is a Baidu version called Baidu Tongji that does much the same thing. While it is only available in Mandarin and lacks some of the features you might recognize, but it’s integrated with Baidu Tuiguang (Baidu pay-per-click advertising) – and can be upgraded with features for a fee.
What are the main platforms?
Like most search engines, the main market is primarily desktop – but Baidu now earns 30% of its revenue from mobile searches and this is rapidly growing – making it a significant area of the business. Western companies should remember this, and make sure that any advertising designed for the Chinese market is mobile friendly.
Fun fact: Unlike Western consumers, Chinese online consumers do not mind online ads and actually like it. Almost 50% of users are targeted daily by internet advertising. Baidu PPC is a great source of online advertising and a big hit among businesses as it drives more return compared to Western PPC.
What about content?
Unsurprisingly, the most popular searches on Baidu in 2014 read very similarly to those in just about any other country. TV and Film, the Weather, gaming, education and travel. A surprise entry in this list is the search that took second place with 10% of searches about commodity prices (when other markets feature sports prominently in the top 10) – which suggests a high percentage of business users on the search engine. This is a good sign for marketers and a promising area for advertising.
Interesting videos about Baidu:
Beginners guide to Baidu: GET STARTED WITH BAIDU
What is Baidu?