What You Need To Know Before Starting Baidu Advertising

If you’re doing business online, China is a huge market that you definitely cannot ignore. And definitely, Baidu advertising is a platform or channel that you have to hop onto if you’re serious enough about your business and its direction.

With more than 700 million users and accounting for more than 70% of the Chinese internet search queries, Baidu is the Chinese version of Google, and it also offers other services such as Baidu maps, images, music streaming, cloud storage, etc.

Remarkably, research have shown that consumers in China actually do not mind online ads such as Baidu advertising as they believe that any company who can pay for such ads to promote their products or services must already have a good reputation.

As well, it is good for serious businesses to be on Baidu to create brand awareness because many Chinese users believe that brands that if your brand is not on Baidu, then they won’t even consider it to be a prominent and famous brand at all, much less purchase it.

Organic search is not the only method to help your business reach out to potential Chinese consumers, another way is Baidu advertising, or Baidu Pay Per Click (PPC), similar to Google AdWords.

To run a successful Baidu advertising campaign, it is better to look for an agency that will help you sort out all the legal documents for submissions, as Baidu rarely processes ad accounts setups on its own. It can be daunting for a foreign or Western brand or business to venture into Baidu advertising because of certain differences especially language and other complexities required. But we will document the exact steps you need to take to venture into Baidu advertising below.

What You Need to Do Before Setting Up a Baidu Advertising Account

  • Setting Up A Chinese Website

As Baidu is primarily a Chinese search engine, it makes total sense to setup a full Chinese version of your website that is in simplified Mandarin Chinese and that looks completely legit to a Chinese consumer. If you set your Baidu ads to be directed to an English site, chances are your bounce rate would be very high as most of your potential customers would not be able to read your website very well.

Also, as we’ve mentioned in another article before, while it’s not necessary for your site to be hosted in China, do make sure that it’s fast enough as site loading speed can be a problem especially if you are hosting your site somewhere else other than China or Hong Kong. All these experiences would influence your Baidu advertising or PPC campaign and affect website conversions.

Check also that your website’s design is appealing and user-friendly to your Chinese users and that it accepts payments in formats that are familiar to your users – mostly Alipay, UnionPay or WeChat Pay.

  • Verification and Submission of Supporting Documents

Your agency will need to help you verify your company’s name, business and website as Baidu needs to check that your business and site is valid, authentic and contains no prohibited content such as pornography or gambling. Some industries such as medical, health, drugs or financial are more difficult to get permission and Baidu will ask you for further certificates or licenses.

You will also be asked to submit a list of legal documents. For foreign entities, you will need to send in a copy of your business registration certificate (plus a simplified Chinese translation of it) and a handwritten statement that it is the same as the original plus a screenshot of your website homepage that clearly shows your URL, with another handwritten statement that this is the same as the actual website.

Baidu will take these documents and evaluate whether your website loads properly without any problem, and will also check your company name, address and contact information, and to see whether everything that you’ve submitted is consistent with your business registration certificate. Just ensure that your website’s “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages include your business’ full registered name, address and contact number.

You will also need to visit your local government’s official website to search for your business information and submit a screenshot of the final results that shows the URL, plus, again, a handwritten statement that shows that it is the same as the website.

Finally, you will need to submit one of these bank account information – a local tax payment certificate, a cheque, a bank statement or a bank payment order form, but ensure also that your bank’s name, business name, account number and address are all on the document you submit.

If any of the above documents are in a language other than Chinese, it is best to get it translated and attached as a backup copy. Also, stamp it with your official company’s seal or chop, plus that of your advertising agency’s seal or chop, or an authorized staff’s signature. Remember to complement all that documents with a handwritten statement that says that these are the same as the original documents.

It normally will take between 2 weeks to a month to have your Baidu advertising account approved after submission of all your documents. Some industries such as food or other sensitive industries might take longer due to issues such as food safety.

  • Planning Your Baidu Advertising or PPC Campaign

The next step is to work with your Chinese agency on keyword research, generation of keyword lists, creating the ad flow and structure, planning the landing pages (if any) and deciding on the images (if any). Most importantly, take some time to fully decide and understand your target audience to make your campaigns as targeted as possible.

  • Finalising the Contract, Paying the Deposit and Activating Your Baidu Account  

Once you get all your legal documents approved by Baidu, it’s time to go ahead with your Baidu advertising and sign the contract with your Baidu reseller or Chinese advertising agency. You will also need to provide the deposit for your ad spend. In addition, some Baidu resellers will ask for an annual service fee and account creation fee.

Once the deposit has been received, Baidu will activate your ad account within a week and you and your Chinese digital agency can then go ahead with the running of your Baidu ads.

Baidu’s Core Products

Baidu has a full fleet of products, and here are some that you can use to promote your brand.

  • Baidu Pay Per Click Keyword Search and Display Network

Similar to Google AdWords’ search engine marketing platform, Baidu’s PPC keyword search, or Baidu Tuiguang (百度推广), allows advertisers to display their ads on the search result pages of Baidu’s search engine and more than 600,000 display network of websites . Activation and approval will probably take close to half a month, so plan in advance. 

This service also has a great remarketing function built into it.

It must be noted that similar to Google, Baidu has a safeguard against fraudulent clicks, often monitoring click patterns and timestamps to detect such behaviour. As a result, only legitimate clicks will be charged to the advertiser’s account.

  • Baidu’s Pay for Placement (P4P)

Baidu’s P4P system or service is a web-based auction system that allows advertisers to bid for priority placement of advertisement links with specific keyword searches, based on your prices and your links’ quality scores. It enables businesses to purchase priority placement within the search results, in a nutshell.  

  • Baidu Brand Zone

As mentioned in another article on Baidu’s differences with Google, advertisers in Baidu’s Brand Zone basically dominate the entire search results above the fold, with not just their logos and text ads, but also display banners, videos, social links and more. With this ad format, you also don’t need to bid on keywords but rather just pay a fixed sum monthly for your keywords to ensure a 100% share all the time. Click through rates are said to be as high as 50%, as compared to normal click through rates on Baidu PPC of an average of 1% and on Google of an average of 0.2 to 0.5%.

Source: Baidu
  • Baidu DU Ad Platform (DAP)

Baidu’s DU Ad Platform (DAP), announced in 2016, enables Android developers to advertise to users based out of China. This platform leverages machine AI technology to enhance ad performance prediction and hence increase advertising revenues.

Baidu Advertising and Research Tools

Similar to Google, Baidu also has some great tools to help you in your Baidu advertising, basically for keyword research, monitoring and tracking of how you’ve performed for your PPC campaigns.

  • Baidu Keyword Planner

Baidu Keyword Planner, integrated with Baidu’s PPC advertising platform, is a tool that shows you the search volumes for your keywords. This is particularly useful for P4P ads, as it will assist you to check how much you can bid on some keywords.

  • Baidu Analytics

Baidu has its own analytics platform they called ‘Baidu Tongji’ (百度统计) which you can add to your Chinese website to track and see how many visitors you have, when and where they are visiting from, for instance. Very similar to Google Analytics, but perhaps weaker in some features, the information from Baidu Analytics can help you to target potential consumers with advertisements and let you know which advertisements drive the most traffic to your site.

  • Baidu Zhishu

Baidu Zhishu (百度指数), an index to analyse behavioural, historical and regional data, provides insights into the volume of searches for specific keywords that you have, as well as search trends and other useful information to help you in your Baidu advertising.

Finally, as Baidu pushes out more regulations for its advertising model, you will need to keep up to date and be able to smoothly navigate your way through the various processes and approval steps. This is probably well worth the time and research, and also to consider working with an experienced Chinese digital agency because Baidu advertising is after all still one of the most effective methods to reach out to a niche and targeted audience for your products or services.

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