A Guide to Baidu PPC Advertising in China

With China being one of the most digitalized countries in the world, it is essential for brands to develop their online reputation as well as brand awareness. One effective way they can do so is through using Baidu PPC advertising (Pay Per Click). Baidu Paid Advertising will provide you with a great way to increase your visibility and presence on the search engine (considered as the ‘Chinese Google’). Baidu has long been the go-to search engine for information in China, including advertising. Running a campaign on Baidu PPC is not as easy or intuitive as it might seem at first glance and there are some key differences to take note of between Google Advertising formats in other countries around the world and ads with Baidu, meaning that successful campaigns require research into understanding how these channels work differently from what you’re used to. Let’s get started with this Baidu Paid Advertising Guide!

Can you advertise on Baidu?

Advertising on Baidu is an effective way to reach Chinese customers, but it must be done carefully. To place an advert on Baidu, businesses must have a business registration certificate and either a Chinese business license or an overseas business license.

Baidu: The Leading Search Engine in China

With more than 989 million internet users as of 2021, the Chinese population is increasingly relying on the web to look for information when it comes to a brand’s reputation, reviews, pictures, videos, etc. As the most popular search engine in China, Baidu stands as the 5th most consulted website in the world. As of 2019, it represented 72.9% of the Chinese market share. In comparison, only 4% of internet research was done with Google in China.

(© Baidu Inc Youtube)

Considering the fact that it is the most popular search engine in China, here are a few numbers to show how important Baidu is in China.

Baidu PPC
Baidu in numbers

Given these figures, it is no surprise Baidu is a wonderful search engine that brands should take advantage of when entering the Chinese market. According to its 2020 Q1 financial report, Baidu’s app saw an increase in daily users (28% YoY growth). The report also highlighted that users spent up to 51% of their time on the Baidu feed. That’s why you should use Baidu to advertise and promote your brand and products.

Advertising on Baidu

(© Croud)

In the past decade, the internet advertising market has been expanding at a double-digit growth rate. However, when it comes to advertising in China, you have to focus not only on the most popular platforms in terms of users, but also (and most importantly) on each platform’s infrastructure to see if your advertising campaign fits their services.  Thus, if you want to use Baidu, you have to understand exactly how it works.

Read our Paid Advertising in China Guide

The Main Benefits of Paid Advertising on Baidu

Cosmetic brand Innisfree on Baidu

Given the incremental growth of mobile users, Baidu will certainly continue to invest heavily in its mobile ecosystem in order to bring a better user experience. This provides a lucrative opportunity for marketers to reach a wider and more engaged audience base.

To put it simply, Baidu is a step you can’t skip in China. 75% of all first-stage research is conducted based on this search engine. However, to have effective advertising campaigns on Baidu, you need to use Mandarin Chinese keywords, we can help you with this task.

Baidu’s User Demographic

Baidu’s traffic is all search-based, you tend to have a very qualified set of users who are seeking information extensively. PPC is one side of reaching out to this audience whilst SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is also a major part of Baidu’s success.

Baidu Paid Advertising: Pay-per-click

Unlike Google, Baidu’s DSP/Media Banner ads are not particularly used as the majority of all advertising is PPC (Pay-per-click). In fact, PPC search results are also perceived differently in China with more trust in paid search compared to the West. One reason for this is the predominance of PPC throughout the development of Baidu’s platform with Chinese digital players monetizing their websites. 

L’Occitane – Baidu Brand Zone

Key features of Baidu PPC

  • 2 Lines of Ad Copywriting (although often only 1 will typically show, depending on ad placement).
  • Top 5 search results on Baidu
  • Brand Zone
  • Paid ads / natural search results are harder to distinguish
  • Ad keyword bidding prices can fluctuate so the campaign needs to be closely monitored

There are some limitations when it comes to Baidu ads, notably for health & pharmaceutical products where you’ll have to speak with a specialist first.

The effectiveness of PPC depends on the sector, often either high-value investments or relatively low-scale purchases will thrive on Baidu PPC (e.g. Real Estate & FMCG). Cosmetics are also typically associated with Baidu PPC.

How to Advertise on Baidu?

Create a Baidu Ads account

In order to apply for Baidu’s PPC advertising, you will need to submit a bunch of documents for Baidu to check the potential and seriousness of your company, as well as respect some strict prerequisites.

Baidu Paid Ads: Prerequisites

  • Have an account on Baidu’s Paid Search Platform
  • Have or license an own SAP CPI tenant to build connection iFlows
  • Mandarin Chinese website
  • Your registered company name must be the same as on your website
  • Business Registration Proof
  • Company bank details
  • A copy of your company/seal on your documents

Baidu Advertising: Fees and Regulations

It is important to take into account that Baidu requires an initial payment to set up your PPC account, which you will then be able to use for your advertising campaigns. Moreover, you’ll have to pay some fees depending on your region.

In terms of regulations, China is extremely strict when it comes to health products, gambling, finance, etc. Thus, regulations for companies in these industries will be even stricter.

Moreover, take note that some words such as ‘Number 1, Best, Top class, Trustworthy, Guarantee, etc. are prohibited on Baidu, and you won’t be able to use symbols on your ad copy unless you prove that they are yours. Avoid all political content that could lead to scandals, and pay attention to the content you post.

Main Differences Between Baidu and Google Paid Ads

Whilst there are of course some similarities, it is important to understand the differences between these two different search engines if you want to optimize your advertising strategies and visibility on Baidu.

1. Less Clear Which Links are ‘Ads’ vs Natural Results

Nike Ads on Baidu

In contrast to Google’s very clear ad section, Baidu opts for a subtler reference below the ad text itself in order to distinguish the paid links at the top of the page from the organic search results.

This can be beneficial to firms engaging in PPC as the natural results seem to merge with the paid results.

2. Baidu PPC with SEO: Optimisation in the Organic Results

It is important to highlight that Chinese users are using the internet all day long, therefore ranking organically on the search engine typically drives qualitative traffic to your website. If you want to take advantage of Baidu in the best way possible, you can combine two approaches: start with PPC to drive initial traffic, then gradually shift to a more SEO-led approach.

If you want more information on Baidu SEO, read our Guide to Baidu SEO.

3. More Characters are Allowed on Baidu PPC Ads than on Google Ads

Compared to Google Adwords, you’ll be able to write more characters on Baidu when it comes to your ads meta-title. The specifications are 50 characters for the title and 80 characters for each line of ad text (in total two lines). You have more space to describe your products, services, or special offer in detail, so you can take advantage of it.

4. Using the First Line of Ad Text on Baidu PPC

In contrast to Adwords, advertisers can choose to only write on the first line of a Baidu ad and leave the second line empty. However, it is very important to take into account that, even if you decide to write on both lines of your Baidu ad, they won’t be both necessarily displayed, as it depends on where they will be displayed.

Baidu will typically not display both lines of ad text unless an ad achieves the highest level of relevancy. The top positions will feature both lines but the lowest four positions probably will not. That’s why it is highly recommended to write the first line of your ad in a way that it can stand alone (in terms of grammar and meaning) so that you won’t in trouble even if the second line is not displayed.

5. Selection of Character Keywords

Generally speaking, campaigns will feature 20-30 keyword sets, based on different groups of themes. Thus, it is important to optimize these keywords’ campaings thanks to a landing page/site audit that you’ll need to do regularly. Pricing can be an issue depending on the sector of activity, but there are ways to cut down costs, and we can explain how if you contact us.

Baidu PPC and SEO

Take note that A/B testing can be carried out to compare generalized terms with specific terms and see how it turns. For example, specific keywords tend to drive more qualitative traffic and will be less expensive. Lower traffic levels will also allow you to cut down costs on your PPC budget if you are operating on a smaller scale.

For large budget campaigns, bidding for & optimizing on the most searched / popular keyword terms will drive the highest level of traffic. But be careful to ensure that your budget is spread over a pre-defined campaign period. Plan everything beforehand in order to organize the budget you’ll need.

6. ‘Special Offers’ are Very Effective in China

In China more than anywhere else in the world, consumers like to make special deals and many of them will tend to buy a product if they know that they can buy it for a cheaper price. That’s why relatively aggressive special offers are pretty common on Baidu. To do so, you have to emphasize how the special offer will be beneficial to consumers. Write an ad copy for your special offer and be as more as convincing as possible, give the reduction price, and explain clearly when the special offer will end.

Lancôme’s special offer for 618 (China Mid-year Shopping Festival)

People will typically pay more attention to an offer in PPC links rather than the brand, and this explains why SEO and ranking in the organic results are the best way the build your brand’s awareness. If you want to take advantage of Baidu, you can combine the two techniques according to your budget.

7. Mandarin Chinese Language Ad Copywriting

It goes without saying that this is incredibly important. Appropriate communication with the target audience improves your CTR, yielding higher ROI. Content cannot simply be translated but needs to be adapted and tailored for the Chinese market accordingly.

When searching for Guerlin on Baidu

Typically you will find mentions of special offers & a brief explanation of services. There are multiple ways to present your brand and services depending on the industry sector and offers.

8. Chinese Landing Pages for Specific Search Terms

Dior’s Chinese website

It is vital to drive traffic to the most relevant options, creating local landing pages for specific product types and categories is a must. Moreover, you should prioritize static pages as the speed of the loading page will be taken into account on Baidu and your rank can also depend on that.

9. Less Negative Words than Google Adwords

It can be bad news for advertisers that are used to listing negative keywords on Adwords: Baidu only allows a total of 100 negative keywords, much less compared to Google Adwords.

The recommendation for advertisers is to take the hundred shortest negatives on the campaign level, which can cover as many essential negative terms and combinations as possible, and further add negatives on the ad group level.

10. Download Baidu’s Editor Tool

Baidu Editor tool’s webpage

If you want to master and take advantage of Baidu, you should download Baidu’s Editor Tool directly on your desktop. On top of that, it you’re not fluent in Mandarin Chinese, it has an English version. The functions available on it are quite similar to Adwords Editor. However, if your account is located outside of China, be prepared that the uploading, downloading, and performance data retrieval could take much longer than with Adwords Editor.

11. PPC Monitoring & Reporting

Tracking channels is of the utmost importance for a successful campaign. You need to be able to analyze which keywords drive the most traffic, convert to the most sales, stay on-site the longest, and re-enter multiple times. This data will allow you to tailor the best strategy for your campaign, and help you find the most effective search terms and ‘ad positioning/location’ in the search bar.

Baidu PPC VS Natural Results

Format of search results, click-through rates, etc. also need to be analyzed

12. Tackling Click Fraud in China

Focusing on click-spend on a daily basis is the most effective way to tackle click fraud (false clicks from competitors) by limiting the budget available. Additionally, monitoring your daily average click-through rates is important to identify potential click fraud. Thankfully, Baidu has been taking care of this in recent years, by establishing a team that is responsible for reporting, analyzing, and protecting clients when click fraud happens.

One important reason to use local specialists is that they can monitor this to ensure you are getting genuine clicks and higher conversion rates. If you want to know more about this topic, you can contact us and our specialists will explain to you in detail all you have to know about Baidu.

Paid Advertising on Baidu

As explained earlier in this article, advertising on Baidu requires a slightly different way of thinking than using Google Adwords for example. On top of that, you’ll have to take into account Chinese users’ habits when surfing the web.

Baidu Phoenix Nest

Baidu has a PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, platform much like Google’s Ad Words, named Baidu Phoenix Nest.

Baidu paid ads

The main difference between Phoenix and Ad Words is that Baidu’s platform ranks websites higher depending on their spending level, whereas with Ad Words the relevancy of the content of your site compared to the search phrase increases your CPC (Cost-Per-Click), and betters your position in the PPC rankings. (more about Paid advertising in China here).

Should I Use Baidu PPC?

Although Baidu PPC is useful to kick start your project and get traffic at the beginning, in the long term, an SEO strategy is more beneficial. Indeed, organic traffic is more qualitative than Paid traffic and less susceptible to not getting any views the day your competitors decide to bid more than you on your keywords. Organic results may not be displayed in front of paid ads, but they still generate a nonnegligible amount of quality traffic.

That’s why you should consider all the possibilities according to your needs, expectations and budget. If you want more information about Baidu PPC, we have plenty of case studies, so you can contact us and we’ll send them to you.

Types of Paid Ads on Baidu

Baidu Tuigang (百度推广)

Baidu Tuigang

Baidu Tuigang is a PPC (pay-per-click) advertising platform similar to Google Adwords and Adsense. By using this platform, you’ll be able to display your ads on the search results pages of Baidu and on websites that are within Baidu’s ecosystem.

Even though the admin interface is primarily in Mandarin Chinese, there’s also an English version that has been developed. However, take into account that this service can only be used by companies who have a registered address for their business within China and some other parts of East Asia. Baidu Paid Ads appear alongside the organic listings.

  • ProTheme

This service is available to Baidu Union members that are then allowed to display promotional links on specific web pages, as well as music players, apps, desktop apps, etc. Because the ads are more targeted to relevant searches than using Baidu Tuigang, there are highly appreciated when targeting a specific audience.

  • Pay for placement (P4P)

By using this service, you will be able to reach customers following relevant searches. According to the relevant keywords, your website links and information will be displayed on Baidu. Thanks to P4P, you can for example buy priority placement of your business’ site within search results (contrary to Google).

  • Baidu TV

Baidu’s advertising service is mainly designed for video advertisements and is available for Baidu Union members’ websites. Advertisers can choose which sites and where they want to display their video ads.

  • Information Feed Ads

Launched in 2016, this type of feed flow ad is mixed with organic content and is displayed in content-driven Baidu products, such as Baidu Forum, Baidu News, and more.

Brand Zone

The Brand Zone is a space dedicated to a specific brand in order to showcase and introduce this company or brand. It often includes links to the company’s website, news related to the brand, specific products, as well as promotional information, and special offers.

Coach Brand zone on Baidu

This type of ad normally ranks at the top position on the SERP and pushes down all the competing ads. For example, when people are looking for Hermès, they can get tons of information about the brand within a few seconds.

However, you’ll have to consider the price of this service (which is around $1,500 a month). To get an exact quote, B2B marketers need to discuss it with professionals on Baidu. Thus, you can contact us to explain concretely your project, so that we can give you advice, prices, and tips, and help you develop your visibility on Baidu.

Need a Baidu PPC Advertising Agency?

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For more information please contact our specialists to talk about your project.

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