What is Baidu & How to Advertise on Baidu

In case you haven’t heard of Baidu, it is China’s major Search Engine, dominating the market with 92% market share and leaving Google with just a fraction of the user base. But what opportunities does it present for businesses outside of China, and can you start leveraging them and advertising on Baidu?

This blog takes you through:

  • The Opportunity
  • The Advertising Options
  • The Practicalities
  • The Key Considerations
  • How to Get Started

Advertising on Baidu

The Opportunity

Reach and Potential: China has the world’s largest online population with 591 million internet users. Additionally, with there being a further 816 million people in the Chinese population that aren’t currently part of the online population (and with a rapidly increasing percentage of middle-income and affluent consumers), there is incredible potential for growth. Put another way, Baidu’s user base in China is greater than Google’s user base in Europe and Asia combined, and it is estimated that by 2020 there will be as many middle-income and affluent consumer households in China as there are in the US. So if your business operates in China or delivers to China  – Baidu could be a huge opportunity for you.

User Behaviour: In looks and functionality, Baidu is very similar to Google, but online and search behaviour in China is very different to what many online marketers may be used to in Europe and the US. Whilst in the UK there is greater trust of Organic Search Results, it is the reverse in China as Baidu’s screening procedures for each of its advertisers is so complex and thorough, only reputable brands or licensed resellers can advertise. As a result, average Click Through Rates for adverts on Baidu are 4.8%, but searchers typically only click and buy from brands they are familiar with.

Adoption of online shopping is increasing too, with 33.8% of Chinese internet users shopping online and 45.5% researching products to buy.

Baidu Advertising

The Advertising Options

Search Advertising: Baidu offers Search Advertising in a similar format to how Google offers Google AdWords ads. Ads are located above and to the right hand side of the search results, and are considered by advertisers as branding and credibility activity as much as an ROI channel.

Brand Landmark (in Search): In line with the branding focus, Baidu offers ‘Brand Landmark’ advertising, which enables advertisers to pay a fixed amount to have an image advert shown at the side of the search results each time a user makes one of a number of specific searches that the advertiser has bought as a ‘topic pack’ (as shown below for Rolex). It can be costly, so is typically used for launches or short term bursts.

Brand Zone (in Search): An even higher level option is ‘Brand Zone’, which is a way for companies to ‘own’ their brand name in the search results. It is very expensive option, but allows brands to dominate the search results with an array of different media, as well as coverage on Baidu’s video, image, and news platforms.

Display Advertising: Just like Google Display Network, Baidu has a vast content network for display advertising and their user profiling is extremely detailed. Click Through Rates average 2-3% and banner ads, video ads and ‘floating’ ads can be used (which move down the page as users scroll down).

Premium Display Network: Baidu also offers the targeting of ‘Tier 1’ websites through ‘Hong Media’. This is a highly targeted channel and includes coverage on six of Baidu’s most popular platforms, as well as over 100 ‘Tier 1’ websites

Baidu Advertising

The Practicalities

If you are an AdWords, Yahoo! or Bing advertiser, the setup for search advertising on Baidu is essentially the same:

  • Ad Rank is calculated based primarily on you Max Bid and a Quality Score style metric
  • Targeting is keyword based and priced on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis
  • The average Baidu CPC is $1.00 for broad searches, and less for more specific searches
  • Additional targeting can be by day part and by region
  • Unlike AdWords, payment is required in advance

Baidu CPCs

The Key Points to Consider First…

The opportunity on Baidu could be huge for your brand, but it’s not necessarily as simple as it sounds. Consider these key points before jumping in:

  • All ads need to be translated into Chinese and localised (but this can be done for you by CSI – see below).
  • You need a Chinese website. Baidu advertisers typically see an 85% bounce rate if the website/landing page is not in Chinese.
  • Many Social Media channels are banned in China, and so you cannot have links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc present anywhere on the website that ads direct to.
  • It is worthwhile analysing the number of sales you currently receive from China and Baidu to help determine your current traction in the region.
  • Chinese import taxes are vast – make sure your business is suitably positioned to enter the Chinese market.
  • Chinese culture and search behaviour is very different and won’t mirror your AdWords results.
  • With such vigorous screening of advertisers on Baidu, there are currently no agency accounts (or MCCs, if you’re an AdWords user) and each advertiser must have its own separate account.
  • The minimum spend for advertisers is $2,000 (US dollars) per month for a minimum of 3 months.

Getting Started

‘China Search International’ is Baidu’s international partner and reseller. To get started on Baidu, get in touch with CSI and they will hold your hand and spoon-feed you through the complex process – including keyword selection, budgeting, targeting, and the rest of the set up process. It takes about 1 week to open an advertising account, but once that is in place, you’re good to go!

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Paul Jackson

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

With almost a decade of experience in digital marketing, both in-house and agency-side, Paul is a CIM qualified Chartered Marketer with expertise and a refreshing approach. Paul’s experience with a diverse mix of brands in a wide range of industries has allowed him to see first-hand the importance of a tailored and business-oriented approach to marketing.