Baidu is Investing Millions in Live streaming

Baidu is one of the world’s leading search engines, and they are investing millions in live streaming. Why? Baidu has officially announced that they want to use live-streaming as a way to connect people with each other. But this also comes as an effort to counter growing competitors such as Douyin and Kuaishou and stay on top of the league. On top of that, brands are increasingly looking at live streaming as a key part of their digital marketing strategy in China, and it would be an error for the giant to not be able to offer these coveted services. This article will dive more in-depth into why Baidu thinks live streaming is so important, what platforms is the group using to develop its live-streaming, and what it means for marketers and brands today.

Baidu market share in 2020

Baidu is the dominant Chinese internet search engine company. By looking at products and services, Baidu is similar to Google, however, the difference is in the fact that it controls most of the search market in China. Baidu offers services, such as Baidu Baike (an online encyclopedia), Baidu Wangpan (a cloud storage service), Baidu Tieba (a keyword-based discussion forum), Haokan, and iQiyi (short-video apps).

Baidu is definitely the search engine on which to aim to make yourself visible in the Chinese market, but as the internet increasingly dictates the lifestyle of the Chinese, it is essential to be able to reach them through this tool and in the correct way through effective digital marketing strategy.

Changes in consumers’ use of livestreaming

Previously, consumers used live-streaming mainly to watch others play games and perform shows, but since this year, we’ve increasingly seen people use live-streaming for a lot of other purposes such as learning. The sector has seen a big boost because of the novel coronavirus, which has kept much of the country locked up indoors since late January, shifting entertainment options increasingly online.

In fact, live streaming has become an important medium for acquiring knowledge, entertainment, and shopping since the outbreak of COVID-19, as tens of millions of Chinese were confined indoors due to restrictions on large gatherings and travel.

Baidu is focusing on live streaming

Chinese tech giant Baidu will invest $70.3 million into the live-streaming sector, the company said, as it looks to take on rivals Douyin, China’s version of Tiktok, and Kuaishou in that space. It will add Haokan content to its own search engine results, and meanwhile, plans to integrate it with the short video platform run by iQiyi, a major Baidu-backed Chinese streaming platform.

Baidu has historically put less emphasis on live-streaming, and so lags behind its competitors in the sector. It hopes to make up for the lost time by using data from its search engine to better target consumers. Recent changes to consumer demands when it comes to live-streaming give them a window of opportunity.

Baidu getting out of its comfort zone

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Baidu has promoted live streaming of the Forbidden City to users who have not been able to visit in person. When users view live streaming on Haokan that recommends a specific book, Baidu can direct them to a smart mini-program where they can buy that book.

Baidu App’s daily active users have surpassed 230 million, the smart mini-programs’ monthly active users have reached 500 million, and the average use time has increased by 30%. Moreover, Baidu App satisfies 58% of search queries with the first result.

By supporting content creators and encouraging live streaming, Baidu hopes to build on its successful strategy of using AI to meet users’ diverse and changing content needs and provide a range of mobile-based services. 

Baidu live streaming Apps


Baidu launched its own short video platform in 2017 called Haokan. Baidu’s short video platform Haokan, offering a diverse mix of both user-generated and professionally-produced content, often in coordination with multiple platform networks, has been providing high-quality, value-added content for users since its launch in 2017.

According to data from third-party research firm QuestMobile, 66 % of Haokan users spend over 3 minutes on the app, placing it in the top spot amongst Chinese short video platforms for this key indicator of user engagement.

With growing demand from Chinese users for more accessible and informative content, the Haokan user base has seen significant growth. Users are becoming more and more interested in quality videos and now prioritize useful and interesting content over eye-catching content.

The Baidu eco-system strenght

Haokan’s strong user growth is also driven by traffic from peripheral channels, leveraging the advantages of Baidu’s wide-ranging products and services within its robust digital ecosystem. These channels include Baidu App, Baidu Search, Baidu Knows, Baidu Post, and Xiaodu Smart Display.

However, compared to Bytedance’s Douyin and the Tencent-invested Kuaishou its growth has been slow. Haokan has around 30 million daily active users, while Douyin claims 296 million and Kuaishou 214 million.

That’s why Baidu is focusing on improving the app functions.

Video platforms in China


iQiyi is a popular video streaming service in China that boasts over 60 million subscribers and more than 500 million active users, impressive numbers that project it among the largest video sites in the world.

Its partnerships:

  • Netflix

In 2016 Netflix gave up entering the Chinese market for numerous reasons. The decision was therefore to license their content to already strong platforms on the market. A year later iQiyi signed an agreement with Netflix which provided for the exclusivity of some original shows (Stranger Things, Ultimate Beastmaster, Black Mirror, Mindhunter, BoJack Horseman).

  • JD

The second major partnership that has yielded more than one million subscribers has been the one with JD, one of the largest Chinese e-commerce: users who subscribe to one of the two services can have a free subscription to the other. This move is expected to give a strong boost to paid subscriptions, reassuring investors concerned about rising costs in content production.

Why are these Video Apps important for brands in China?

Live streaming e-commerce has grown rapidly in China. The industry surpassed 433 billion yuan (U $ 61 billion) in transactions in 2019.  Now, live streaming is getting a boost from the coronavirus pandemic. The expectations are that the industry will reach 916 billion yuan (US $ 129 billion) in 2020.

Live streaming is focused on influencers, known in China as key opinion leaders (KOLs), who broadcast live to millions of viewers and show products, trying and describing them.

Increase brand awareness and sales

Haokan Live streaming - Baidu ecosystem

The use of live streaming could be a big opportunity for brands to increase their brand awareness and to show their brand’s value to their customers, gaining visibility, and increasing sales.

Live streaming is very popular in China and is particularly loved by users for their ability to be transparent and authentic.

In China, many companies integrate live streaming into their internationalization strategies, for their ability to engage large masses of users in minutes.

Companies should focus on growing their brand awareness, especially in this period of crisis due to Covid-19.

Live streaming offers a great opportunity for you to gain visibility, keep in touch with your customers, increase your followers, and thus increase sales.

How to index your site on the Chinese search engine Baidu?

To rank on Baidu, think localization

In China, culture plays an important role, and understanding this for a brand is essential. It is not enough to translate the site and articles with a translator, everything must be adapted to local cultural models, in order to be truly understandable for the Chinese user who reads them and with whom you should interface.

There are clearly topics, such as politics and sex, that shouldn’t be used, because generally not for the public’s taste.

How to make your site stand out in the huge Chinese market?

In China, the reference search engine with more than 70% market share is Baidu. Google, which is banned from the system, can only be reached from Hong Kong.

Baidu has different levels of visibility and advertising options:

  • Baidu Brand Zone
  • Baidu SEM Advertising
  • Baidu SEO

Baidu Brand Zone

It is the highest form of Advertising on the Chinese search engine.

It allows you to create a mini-site that can be positioned at the top of the list of results and linked to the search by the keyword that indicates the brand name.

Different templates are available that allow you to use videos, photos, social connections, and e-commerce, structured within the space available.

The site must obviously be in Chinese. In any case, the search engine reserves the approval of the operation, following an evaluation of the traffic generated and the brand in question.

Baidu Advertising

The Baidu Advertising platform is comparable to the Google Adwords platform in terms of functions and methods.

But there are several tools that the platform available:

  • the Pay per Click mode allows you to target specific keywords and position yourself at the top of the search results for them. Payment takes place only when the user clicks and then from the ad accesses the advertiser’s site.
  • The Network Alliance mode allows you to view messages even on the numerous sites affiliated with Baidu, and works with the same principles as Google Display.
  • It is possible to request a “Baidu Business Card” with the company logo, company description, and contacts that will be visible on the right of the search.
  • There is a 3-step Account Verification system – V1, V2, and V3, where V3 is the largest, which is related to the traffic generated and the completeness of the documents provided by the advertiser. A higher degree of verification generates greater user confidence, a very important factor in China.
  • All site activities can be viewed and reported via Baidu TongJi (aka Google Analytics).

Baidu SEO

If you are well positioned on Baidu’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), you will surely be noticed and many contacts will be generated.

But how do you do it? Read our Guide to Baidu SEO

The operations may be the same as you do with Google but locally, in China. It means:

  • Hosting in China
  • Domain .cn
  • Seo on-site then optimization of title, descriptions, meta tags, etc. This operation requires more than just translation. In fact, it is necessary to understand the culture and the local idioms, to optimize the operation.
  • Seo off-site then the construction of a network of links to your site by other “authoritative” sites where authoritative is always related to the judgment that Baidu makes for the keywords.
  • Interaction with the Baidu platform absolutely essential for positioning well. The platform provides the user with various tools to enhance their content within the platform. Tools like Baidu Baike (similar to Wikipedia), Baidu video, Baidu Zhidao (similar to, and Baidu Tieba (Aka google +). The greater the interaction that a user has with these tools, in terms of quantity but above all quality, the greater the enhancement that the search engine will recognize for its contents.
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Do you want to know more about How to use Baidu live streaming Apps? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specializing in the Chinese digital market.

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