Baidu is the world’s 4th largest Search Engine after Google, Bing and Yahoo. According to the CNNIC (the Chinese government’s agency of internet affairs) there are 710 million internet users in China as of June 2016. Baidu accounts for over 80% of the Chinese advertising market revenue.
Chinese internet giants usually have a lot in common with their American counterparts (Baike & Wikipedia, Baidu Map & Google Map etc.). Baidu, on the other hand, is still starkly different from Google.
Before entering the world of Search Advertising in China, consider 3 major points of difference between Google and Baidu:
No.1 PPC Ads SERPs Layout
There is an ad format in Baidu called “Brand Zone”, which works on a cost per time model; it allows advertisers to purchase keywords related to brands or products (trademark) – and own the SERPs for those terms. It is an 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.
Here is an example of BMW ads in Baidu.com and Google.hk (there is no Google.cn available at the moment) and the keyword is BMW.
The Baidu Brand Zones ad is dominating the search results page on both the left and the right side. It gives brand marketers a chance to meet all the search needs about BMW from users and prevent traffic loss by offering rich media banners, site links and the links to social media channels. This massive ad format does have an impact on the organic search results which usually come after 5+ ads – including Baidu’s own products.
On Google’s side, the ad is not that catching compared to Baidu in terms of the rich media site links. However, Google has a healthier balance between Paid Search and Organic Search.
No.2 Ad Copy Writing
Baidu gives advertisers considerably more space for ad copy than Google.
Google launched the new expanded ads earlier this year which allows two 30-character headlines and one 80-character description line. On the other hand, Baidu gives advertisers a 50-character headline to play with (the equivalent of 25 Chinese characters). It also allows advertisers to have two 80-character description lines (the equivalent of 40 Chinese characters).
Whenever you want to deliver the message to Chinese audience on the internet, always take Chinese culture into consideration by knowing what audiences really care and the language spoken by each region. And of course, you should avoid using English or any other foreign languages on the Ads or Landing page when people place their searches in Mandarin.
Getting to the point should be your first concern. If you are in the airline industry and writing ad copy for a special offer, make sure your copy emphasizes on how “Special” the offer is. Explain clearly when it will end instead of giving an introduction to the user how great your company is. People care about the offer more than about your brand.
Appropriate communication with the target audience improves your CTR, yielding higher ROI.
No.3 Account Opening
The opportunity on Baidu could be huge for your brand in China. To be fair, your to-do-list will be longer than on Google, Yandex, Yahoo-JP or any other PPC platforms.
I would recommend this key checklist for your Baidu account opening:
- A fully accessible Chinese language optimized website
- A copy of your Business License, or the Certificate of Incorporation (COI)
- The URL (main domain) of your website
- Make sure your payment methods are Chinese-friendly (e.g., Alipay, UnionPay).
- Have dedicated Mandarin-speaking Account manager, customer support, etc.
Beyond these, you might be asked to justify your ad claims with various documents. This could include trade agreements, proof of patent to name a few, or industry-specific permits (Medical, Real Estate, Finance, Education, etc.).
Unlike Google, where anybody can sign up and start running ads within few minutes, Baidu only sells through authorized agencies. It might be worth partnering up with an established, certified agency in your industry.
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