Oxygen | Inbound China Blog

Baidu vs Google: 5 Reasons To Start Using Baidu Ads in 2024

Written by Laurent Ross | Sun 02 Jul, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, reaching the right audience in the right market is crucial. Baidu search engine, China’s leading search engine, holds a dominant position with over 70% of the market share and more than 500 million monthly active users (Statista). This extensive reach makes Baidu an indispensable platform for businesses aiming to penetrate the Chinese market. Additionally, Baidu boasts access to over 600,000 alliance websites, enhancing the visibility and impact of your advertising efforts.

In this article, we will explore the top 5 reasons why you should start using Baidu Ads in 2024:

#1: Google doesn’t work in China

#2: Baidu PPC Advertising is one of the best platforms in China 

#3: Baidu has a Lower CPC (Cost per Click) Than Google Ads

#4: Baidu is growing rapidly

#5: It can be difficult to get started with advertising on Baidu

 

There are alternative platforms you can use to advertise online in China, but none of them come close to matching the reach of a Baidu ad. Baidu has an enormous search engine market share in China at 65.21% by the end of January 2023. When comparing Google and Baidu, the key differences stem from their market positioning in China. Google is largely inaccessible due to local restrictions. In contrast, Baidu dominates as the country's primary search engine. Baidu further distinguishes itself by offering reliable and cost-effective advertising solutions tailored specifically for the Chinese market. So when you’re looking to advertise in China, you should always start with Baidu advertising. Baidu also continues to grow each year, with about 634 million monthly active users in September 2022 on the Baidu App, a 5% improvement year-on-year.

Not sold on Baidu ads yet?

Here are our top 5 reasons why you need to use Baidu ads:

#1: Google doesn’t work in China

Here’s the most fundamental question we need to answer first: Can you use Google in China? The short answer is no. Unfortunately, like many Western internet services, almost all Google services have been blocked in China, with Translate just being the latest to disappear by end of 2022.

This includes:

  • Search
  • Display
  • Gmail
  • Translate
  • Drive
  • Youtube
  • Play Store
  • News
  • Maps

Some services like Google GDN (Google Display Network) and Google Analytics (URL tracking) work in China. However, they cause loading problems for websites that need to route information through the Great Firewall, so marketers use Baidu Analytics instead.

If you’re serious about doing business in China, it's crucial to understand that utilising Chinese marketing platforms is the most effective strategy. The Chinese government has implemented stringent regulations on VPN (virtual private network) usage since mid-2018, and these regulations have been further reinforced in recent years. As a result, many foreigners and businesses operating in China are turning to Baidu for its accessibility and compliance with local regulations. Baidu, being the leading search engine in China, offers a range of advertising options that cater specifically to the preferences and behaviours of Chinese consumers, making it an indispensable tool for businesses aiming to succeed in this vast and dynamic market.

 

#2: Baidu PPC Advertising is easily one of the best platforms in China 

While Baidu PPC can’t compare to the maturity of a product like Google Ads, it is easily the best and is developing fast compared to other platforms in China.

In recent years, the Chinese tech market has been plagued by social and advertising platforms faking engagement numbers to appease shareholders' desires for growth. Many of these applications have targeting options like Facebook for selecting interests, job information, and demographic information, but often these options don’t seem to work well at all. Baidu’s core targeting functionality is centered around keywords used in the search engine. Targeting and accuracy have been proven to be much better than other platforms (at least for the time being).

"Businesses (especially B2B) can expect far better conversion rates from Baidu than any other advertising platform which instead of targeting keywords prefer a more spammy (impressions per million) approach."

 

#3: Baidu has a Lower CPC (Cost per Click) Than Google Ads

Baidu is an advertising anomaly in China, where advertising costs (especially print, video, sponsored posts or influencers) are exponentially more expensive than similar methods in the West. On average (varies depending on keywords and industry), Baidu has a cheaper CPC (cost per click) than Google for similar search terms.

Working primarily within the B2B industry, we have noticed that it’s common to find that popular search terms are usually around 25-40% of the cost of the exact keywords in Google. Baidu does have some strict payment terms, requiring an initial deposit in Baidu Ads of at least RMB 7,000 (USD 1042) if you are a foreign company NOT based in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Singapore, United Kingdom and France. You will also need to pay RMB 1,000 as a one-off service fee and RMB 600 annually for the Company Authentication fee. But the overall cost of your Baidu Advertising campaign should be comparatively lower.

 

#4: Baidu is growing rapidly

China’s current domestic internet usage is around 1.04 billion people in 2022. With Baidu developing native mobile search applications all the time with Chinese mobile carriers, it’s likely to continue growing in the coming years. 

Baidu is also laser-focused on the search market, with around 99.7% of its income coming from online marketing and advertising services  (compared to Google’s 88%). Baidu’s success is expected to carry internationally where there are no internet restrictions. Chinese users who live overseas or are travelling overseas will expect to use Baidu as their primary search engine.

 

#5: It can be difficult to get started with advertising on Baidu

Wait, isn’t this supposed to be a list of reasons why you SHOULD be using Baidu? Well, one of the best reasons you should be using Baidu is almost always overlooked: the barrier to entry. Like all services in China, Baidu is subject to the laws and requirements of the Chinese Communist Party, which (unlike Facebook and other platforms) doesn’t want just anyone to advertise. This means that to get started on Baidu, you will need to provide a lot of paperwork and registration information of your Chinese company (International companies may also apply in Hong Kong).

To give you the rundown on everything you need to get started, see our “2023 Master Guide to Baidu”. There is also an approval process for ads, and you will be assigned a service representative whose job will be to check in on you and make sure that you aren’t advertising anything that might be deemed sensitive in China. Now, all this might seem like a fairly good reason not to use Baidu ads, but it’s actually an excellent opportunity for companies who are willing to put in a little effort which many of your competitors won’t bother doing.

None of these processes are difficult. It’s mostly just time-consuming and requires Chinese/Hong Kong administrative help to provide the correct documentation to appease the censors. Getting started with registering a foreign company in China usually takes around 2 months, OR starting in Hong Kong can be done within weeks with the help of a local agency. If you don't have or aren't willing to open a company in China, you can register a Baidu account as an international company. However, to use a Baidu ad as a landing page, you need to send the website URL for review. In this case, we recommend using Baidu landing pages as your website won't load fast enough in China without a local hosting solution

Frequently Asked Questions about Baidu vs Google Ads

1. How does advertising differ between Baidu vs Google?

Advertising through Baidu means that you have unlocked the power to target Chinese-speaking regions - including Mainland China, Taiwan, etc. Essentially, you can reach out to all Chinese speakers over the world, so long as they’re using this popular search engine daily. While Google is far-reaching, it unfortunately restricts your advertising to regions other than China. 

Another key difference is that unlike activity on Google, Chinese consumers don’t mind online ads and believe that any company willing to pay to promote their products in this way must be reputable. They also know that there are strict advertising laws in China as the Chinese internet has a long history with false advertising. It is perhaps a different attitude to customers in the West, but with the reach of Baidu ads, the potential marketplace for new business is colossal.

2. What are the similarities between Baidu and Google?

Baidu is termed the “Google of China'' - so you know there must be quite a few similarities between the two. Essentially, both platforms are extremely popular search engines and rely heavily on their advertising offerings and cloud services (although they. In my opinion, they will both continue growing tremendously over the next few years.

3. Why does Baidu perform better than Google in the Chinese Search Engine Market?

Amongst all Chinese search engines, Baidu is the biggest search engine and owns a significant market share. Even though Google China (which is a subsidiary of Google) has been around since 2006, it has struggled to gain a foothold in the Chinese market due to strict regulations in China. Even outside of China, Baidu still beats Google. While Google evaluates content equally, Baidu prioritises and gives a higher ranking to Chinese content. Naturally, Baidu will have a better performance in the Chinese search engine market.

Google Bard vs Baidu Ernie Bot

Technology Base:

  • Bard is based on Google's LaMDA, a language model focused on open-ended conversation.

  • ERNIE Bot is based on Baidu's ERNIE, a knowledge-enhanced pre-training model.

Data Source:

  • Bard uses data from Google Search to provide real-world factual responses.

  • ERNIE Bot uses plugins such as "Baidu Search" and "ChatFile" to deliver exact and updated information. 

Features and Enhancements:

  • Bard is being developed to excel at tasks like instruction-following, answering diverse questions, creating various text forms like poems and scripts, accurate language translation, understanding nuanced questions, and quickly adapting to new information. They have recently started allowing users to use images as prompts, with the feature available in English. 

  • ERNIE Bot has the ability to summarize lengthy texts and deal with Q&A efficiently. It was made faster with the 3.5 update, which made it 17 times quicker than its predecessor, ERNIE 3.0. 

Development and Improvements:

  • Google's development plan for Bard includes potential applications in conversational search experiences or novel educational tools. They recently allowed Bard to be interacted with in over 40 languages!

  • Baidu's development plan for ERNIE Bot includes continuous updates and the addition of new features, with an emphasis on improving the speed of the AI model.

Human-Like Interaction:

  • Bard is designed to handle open-ended conversations that can flow naturally.

  • ERNIE Bot focuses on understanding human intentions and responding in a natural, logical way.

Getting Started with Baidu Ads

For B2B businesses looking to target the China market, Baidu Ads are crucial and should be part of your PPC strategy. It offers a cost-effective and accurate method of advertising that can even outperform other platforms in China.

So now that you see the potential for advertising in China, where do you get started?

  1. First, download our free eBook on everything you need to know about doing Baidu ads in China. Understanding how things work and the requirements for getting started are crucial for success.
  2. Hire a Baidu ads specialist or an agency with the experience to help you get started. Baidu marketing can be challenging, and advertising in China requires a completely different strategy. If you would like to speak to one of our ‘Baidu qualified’ specialists, please contact us.

 

Does your company need assistance with advertising in China? Speak with one of our marketing experts to find out how we can help.