With Google claiming less than 2% of the market in China, the search engine landscape is different from that of most Western markets. While there are several actors, in space, Sogou and Shenma, in space, Baidu is undoubtedly the first point of reference for most companies seeking to conduct marketing campaigns for research in China. This guide will give you a better understanding of China’s major online marketing channels and how they work. We’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of paid search on China’s biggest research platform.

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So, why Baidu?

There are several reasons why advertisers turn to Baidu when they try to advertise their products or services to Chinese consumers, the most important of which are described here.

The most significant is the fact that Baidu has the highest market share both desktop and mobile. According to Statcounter, Baidu boasts 59% of the Chinese desktop search market, with Haosou entering the second place, with 26%. On the mobile, Baidu’s domain is even more evident as it has a 78% market share. As a platform, Baidu offers advertisers more options than paid search alone, with in-feed ads and display ads representing two other options Popular advertising on Baidu.

Having been created in 2000, Baidu has a relatively mature structure compared to other search engines, along with better customer service and more open resources.

As Baidu looks on desktop and mobile

Following a scandal in 2016, Baidu was forced to revise its search results classification system.

There is now a maximum of four paid ads shown at the top of the desktop search results on Baidu, rather than those previously allowed. These are followed by organic results and a maximum of two paid results at the bottom of the first page of results. As shown in the screenshot below, related products or brands are also shown on the right side of the results on mobile and tablet devices, Baidu’s search results show a maximum of three paid ads at the top of the page, followed by organic results and more publicity. The exact placement of the results on Baidu changes from time to time, so it is important to keep up to date with the latest developments.

How do people make research in China?

Before immersing yourself in PPC advertising on Baidu, it is worth taking a look at the typical research behavior in China.

When a search is driven by purchase intent, the vast majority of Chinese consumers would switch to an e-commerce platform such as Tmall, Taobao or JD.com instead of searching on Baidu. This is shown in the example below, which shows the daily search volume for the same term ‘knitwear male knitwear’ on Baidu and Taobao. However, if Chinese consumers are at an earlier stage of their purchase path, they are more likely to look for product reviews, style guides and other information on Baidu to help inform their purchase decision.

Advertising

  • Baidu Tuiguang
    This is a service that follows the same dynamics as Google AdWords. The platform mainly deals with Pay per Click that allows advertisers to have their own ads either in search results or on sites that are part of their circuit.
  • Pay to placement (P4P)
    This is a Marketplace where you can improve your search rankings for certain keywords. The keywords for these services can be chosen independently or through internal consulting services.
  • ProTheme
    This is a platform very similar to Google AdSense, where you can have banner ads on your site, and allows you to earn through clicks.
  • Baidu TV
    This is the classic television advertising present in the channels of their official TV.

The paid search opportunity on Baidu

Before starting to invest in advertising on Baidu, it is essential to have a good idea of the volume of impressions that you are likely to receive on the platform. Baidu’s Keyword Planner is a great starting point for estimating the number of impressions you can expect for certain phrases, allowing you to get information on daily impressions, estimated the cost per click, and the level of competition for your space.

If your brand awareness levels are currently very low in China, or if the industry you operate in is very niche, it might be better to start with higher channel advertising, such as social media and paid displays, rather than diving straight into the paid search on Baidu.

Configuring the Baidu account

Creating a Baidu advertiser account is a much more complex process than the equivalent on Google Ads. There are essentially two options for doing so – to be established directly with the main Baidu branches such as Beijing and Shanghai, or through an agency partner listed in Baidu.

Whatever you choose, several documents are required, which must be translated into simplified Chinese, including:

  • Business license
  • Last statement
  • Authorization letter
  • Screenshot of the website
  • Photos of your office building

Due to the complex process in continuous evolution, many companies choose to collaborate with a specialized digital agency when they are installed on Baidu.

Restrictions on Baidu

When it comes to advertising on Baidu, the landscape is strictly regulated, in particular for some sectors. There are several terms and phrases in the blacklist, including the Chinese equivalents of:

  • Best, No.1, Top class
  • trustworthy
  • warranty
  • Exclusive

The industries that are particularly regulated include the health sector (especially health supplements), finance and gambling, which is completely prohibited.

Get the right foundation

In many ways, getting the basics on Baidu is more or less the same as on other search platforms. For example, having a clear account structure is crucial, as it ensures a good combination and subdivision of the type of correspondence, allowing you to filter the most valuable traffic. When you advertise on Baidu, locating your ad copy is vital to success. Rather than simply translating your ad copy, be sure to use field experts who are able to tailor your ads to the local market and trends.

Making sure you have a clear record for Baidu is also vital. The use of Baidu analysis is a great option, given its direct integration with the Baidu interface. However, you can also use your existing global reporting system, such as Google Analytics, but keep in mind that there may be discrepancies in your data.

Protect your brand on Baidu

Protecting your brand and any branded product term on Baidu is even more important than other search engines, as Chinese consumers attribute high value to brand recognition, generally preferring to buy from those brands they know and trust.

Possible scenarios on Baidu may include competitors bidding for the end of your brand; using the trademark term in the ad text or using exactly the same copy of the ad. Some competitors may even get false clicks on your ads to quickly run out of your budget.

Fortunately, Baidu offers various levels of brand protection (for a fee), with the highest level which means that competitors are not even able to bid on the keywords of your brand. If your brand already has some recognition in China, it is worth considering the Baidu brand search products to own the SERPs for the terms of your brand and brand.

The ads, activated by keywords, are interactive and rich in multimedia content, allowing brands to always occupy the highest position of the terms of their brand. The product can be customized for each brand.

Key steps for the success of Baidu PPC

Once you have set all the basics, there are many other steps you can take to get the most out of your Baidu campaigns, including:

Promote cost efficiency
– Continue the keyword extraction
– Use bid modifiers, which allow you to bid differently based on device, hours, audience, ads extensions, and more
– Effective use of Baidu offer strategies

Provide creative excellence
– Analyze and update your ad copy continuously
– Use ad customization parameters to tailor the copy dynamically to users

Use The Baidu industry goal function

This allows advertisers to target competitors’ audiences (based on previous searches, visits, etc.) in search ads.
This feature allows you not only to target the most relevant audiences and avoid competing with your competitors but also to develop brand awareness while reducing cost per click and achieving incremental conversions.

Other opportunities

In addition to all the functions described above, Baidu is constantly evolving, offering new and interesting opportunities for advertisers.

Baidu in-feed ads, for example, are native ads that appear on the Baidu mobile site, browser and BBS (BBS) system, Tieba. Drawing on the growing use of mobile devices and changing consumer behavior, in-feed ads are becoming one of the most popular ad formats in the Chinese digital space, allowing advertisers to reach new audiences, increase brand awareness
and review existing users.

Baidu Baike is another Baidu product that is worth having on your radar. The equivalent of Wikipedia in China, Baike has up to 14,880,000 active users every day and Baidu is given top priority to organic results.

To get the most out of Baidu Baike you need to Make sure your brand is listed in Baidu Baike with a  list that has your most up-to-date information. Please note that an expert Baidu account is required to create and update a list. Also, you have to plan carefully before making changes to Baidu Baike

In conclusion

It is clear that Baidu is a huge opportunity for advertisers looking to tap into the Chinese market. While Chinese consumers looking to buy usually go first on an e-commerce site, they often still seek reviews, advice and other information about Baidu. Before investing in PPC on Baidu, it is essential to evaluate traffic volumes, as well as to know the Chinese advertising policy and the specific rules of the sector. Also, you should be prepared at higher levels of race activity than you might be used to on other platforms. By locating your ads and your keywords, rather than simply translating them, as well as making the most of the latest ad extensions and other features available, you’ll ensure the best chance of success on Baidu.