Most companies that make a foray into the world of Chinese advertising are in for a shock. Things aren’t as easy, with strict monitoring from the central government and advertising platforms in China being almost decades behind their Western counterparts in terms of technical capabilities and UX design. Platforms like Baidu can be challenging to use, most companies (even the large ones) have no choice but to turn to local Chinese agencies to manage their accounts for them.
This is where the shock usually sets in. Even though you’ve hired a local expert, there’s going to be a considerable disparity between what you want to achieve and what is actually achieved. Understanding the differences, legal requirements and marketing styles used in China will go a long way in having a successful campaign and a positive relationship with your agency.
Here are some of the top struggles companies face in the Baidu marketing world and how you can minimise the friction with each Baidu ad.
Setup difficulty, legal requirements & Baidu fees
Unlike opening a Google Adwords account, registration on Baidu is not straightforward. Expect this to take around two weeks even if you have all of the required documentation and are diligent in following requests from your dedicated Baidu-salesperson. Please see our free eBook, Master Guide to Baidu in 2021, to learn more about the requirements and the application process.
It’s also important to remember that a government censor must approve anything and everything you do on Baidu, so expect a delay in getting ads live.
A Baidu PPC account is technically free to open. But to start running ads, businesses need to make a minimum down payment of RMB 6,000 (around 900 USD) if you’re located in China and 7,000 RMB if you are outside of China. Sometimes local resellers may charge a management fee as well.
If your business is deemed related to anything currently deemed ‘sensitive’ by the government (cryptocurrency, medical, foreign investment) expect to be rejected. The list of industries this applies to can change frequently and without warning. For more information, visit China Advertising Laws You Need to Know in 2021.
Baidu does not support any language other than Mandarin. Any staff that are planning to interact with the system will need to be fluent in reading mandarin and understand the technical vocabulary. Consider employing Chinese sales representatives to handle leads coming from your ads to ensure that you don’t miss any opportunities. Don’t have staff that can speak Mandarin? Contact us, we have a dedicated team of Baidu marketing professionals that can help.
Chinese design style
There is always a huge disconnect when Chinese agencies are first involved (especially in larger organisations). The brand will usually already have a ‘global market brand book’ dictating exactly what colour and font things should be for consistency. Unfortunately, few Chinese agencies will be willing to consider using existing style guides, and by most accounts, they are right.
What appeals to the global market is seldom what appeals to the Chinese market, so expect louder colours, more text and ‘pedomorphic’ (cute) imagery. See below comparison:
|Chinese Design Style||Western Design Style|
Chinese agency KPI’s, performance and reporting
It is very common in China that marketing and advertising agencies will often focus on quantity over quality. As an agency ourselves, we have heard and seen so many examples of companies spending a lot of money on a campaign after being promised results, and then getting virtually no quality leads.
If you do plan on using a Chinese agency, make sure that there is a process in place to decide on MQL’s or SQL’s to make sure your ads are going to the right people. Your reports are likely to come monthly, in excel format (created manually), as Baidu doesn’t offer multiple logins to their backend and doesn’t allow data to be exported through an API unless you are spending over RMB¥100,000 a month.
Chinese agency fees
Most Chinese agencies will charge a fixed percentage of your advertising budget from anywhere from 5-10%. However, these agencies usually only take large projects, and their clients are accustomed to spending hundreds of thousands a month or RMB in ad budget.
Here are some of the key expectations for Baidu advertising we have summed up, you should take this into account if you would like to start Baidu ads and when you are finding a Baidu agency.
- Quantity over quality: this is the most crucial concern.
- Lengthy approval processes: due to all content needing to be approved by a government censor, getting new campaigns live can take some time.
- Poor reporting in excel format each month. Real-time data will not be possible.
- Lower CPC: Baidu is often much cheaper than Google.
- More low quality leads: you will need to manually filter or use marketing automation to prevent sales from being ‘spammed’.
Shorter attention spans: most Chinese leads will not bother filling out forms, so make sure your landing pages are concise.
- No lead automation with Baidu native forms: Baidu will not export leads generated in their system unless you pay over RMB¥100,000 a month.
- You can only create landing pages (pc and mobile) with Jimuyu and advertise the Baidu landing pages via the Baidu search engine.
- Baidu ads have several topic restrictions: medical apparatus and instruments; medical treatment and health; healthcare products; auction houses; franchise opportunities healthcare products; sex products.
Does your company need assistance with advertising in China? Speak with one of our Baidu marketing experts to find out how we can help.