To operate a successful marketing campaign in China, you will need to adapt to the nuances of the marketplace. As part of your strategy, you should consider using Baidu Ads. While Baidu SEO is essential, Baidu advertising can also generate high-quality leads and promote brand awareness when implemented effectively.
In this article, we will run you through the steps on how to set up a Baidu Ads (SEM/PPC) campaign, explain what restrictions are in place, and highlight the ad display options that are available to you with Baidu.
Baidu: The Google of China
Without the presence of western sites such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, China has created its very own unique ecosystem of dynamic pages.
There are many search engines in China such as Sogou, Shenma, and Haosou but the dominating force in the middle kingdom is certainly Baidu. It accounts for 68.66% of the market share in China and is the 5th most used site for finding information in the world.
Market share of search engines in China as of June 2021, based on page view
According to Baidu’s FY21 Q2 report, Baidu’s monthly active users reached 580 million as of June 2021.
Baidu is clearly China’s number one go-to site for finding information about brands and products. Because of this, it is possible for Baidu PPC ads to be seen by a tremendous wave of online traffic, and by doing so can develop some serious visibility for your brand.
Advertising on Baidu
Pay-per-click advertisements are the most common on Baidu, whereas DSP and Media Banner ads are used less frequently. One reason for this is because PPC ads are perceived differently on Baidu than they are on Google. Indeed, Chinese consumers tend to trust these ads as they have now become an almost integral part of the Baidu user experience.
The advertising market on Baidu has been expanding rapidly with keyword bidding becoming extremely competitive. If you want to develop a successful Baidu Ads campaign then you will need to deeply understand how the platform works.
Example Nike Ad on Baidu
Baidu GRC Regulations for 2021
Earlier this year, Baidu announced that advertisers will need to host their landing pages on its domain directly. The decision was made in order to adhere to China’s Governance and Custody of Commercial Risk Control Platforms (GRC). This development will have an effect on Baidu’s search and feed ad formats.
Businesses that are listed companies, fortune 500 companies, have a well-known global brand or have a reputable trademark will be exempt from these changes.
The regulations will see many industries switching over to Baidu’s landing page “Jimuyu”(基木鱼). This will prevent companies from redirecting traffic on URLs after the website has been approved with an ICP license and by Baidu. The new regulations are expected to be fully enforced by 30 September 2021. There are different deadlines that are dependent on what industry the business is in:
- April 30: Health products and pharma, Logistics, Sports equipment (outdoor equipment services), Baby products, Daily consumer goods, IT/consumer goods, Chemical energy (disinfection cleaning products)
- May 27: F&B, Entertainment and media, Baggage and clothing, Software, Financial services (app download services), Business services (business overhaul and reconstruction)
- June 29: Household services, Indoor entertainment and sports venues, Investment promotion
Several advertisers on the platform have appealed against Baidu’s mandatory ad requirements. In response, Baidu issued an extended list back in May of industries that would be exempt from these measures:
- Real estate
- Commodity Trading
- Animal husbandry & fishery
- Internet services
- Social welfare
For the industries that are still required to comply with Baidu’s GRC regulations, they will gradually need to transition their hosting domain over to Baidu. Baidu has provided the hosting templates that are available for different industries:
Advertising Restrictions on Baidu
Baidu ads are very strictly monitored to maintain its high code-of-conduct. Some terms are blacklisted for advertisements such as the Chinese equivalent for the words: exclusive, the best, number one, trustworthy, guarantee, and top class.
It’s important to note, that there are certain advertisements that are forbidden by Baidu and the Chinese government. Unpermitted topics due to government restrictions include:
In addition to these restrictions, Baidu has another set of restrictive measures on advertisements. The number one search engine in China doesn’t permit advertisements on:
- Healthcare products
- Auction houses
- Franchise opportunities
- Sex products
Being aware of these prohibited areas is important as penalties will be placed on any violation against the Advertisement Law of the People’s Republic of China. Business licenses may also be revoked and medical institutions could risk losing their license to practice.
Opening a Baidu Advertising Account
To open a Baidu ads account, you will need to gather and send the required documents to Baidu for review. Here are the steps you will need to follow to get your account up and running:
Building your Baidu Ads Campaign
Creating a solid foundation for your campaign is essential to achieve the best ROI. Having a clear account structure and an equal balance and split of match type will ensure that your ads receive high-quality traffic that can generate leads.
To begin, you can login to your new Baidu account through Baidu’s PPC advertising page, (www2.baidu.com).
Once logged in, one of the first things you will want to do is to set up ad groups.
For the sake of making Baidu campaigns simpler, keywords are grouped together in “ad groups”. Here, you can organise and set up your campaigns. For example, you may want to create one campaign for phrase keywords, one for brand name keywords and another for a precise product. Under each campaign you can create “ad units” which contain one of your keywords.
Finding the most appropriate keywords is crucial for a successful campaign. Baidu advertising accounts can support both small campaigns that require around 100 keywords as well as much larger campaigns which can have over 100,000 keywords.
You can find keyword match types which show a keyword’s relevance and popularity based on the user’s search inquiries. The ad will only be available to search queries that match the keyword’s “ad group”. Baidu has a keyword research tool that is available for users with a Baidu ad account. It is called Baidu Keyword Planner. Here you can search for metrics such as:
- Average daily search volume
- Average daily mobile search volume
- Competition level for a keyword
- Estimate top page bid cost.
Baidu Keyword Planner interface
You can also enter a keyword and receive alternative suggestions and find data for a combination of different keywords.
Campaign Bidding Price & Budget Setting
Bidding for keywords is like being at the auction house. Here the highest bidder gets the highest ranking for their ad. There are also quality scores for your ad which Baidu assigns by itself and is rated on a scale of 1-10.
To get a high-ranking ad you will need to be bidding high as well as scoring well on Baidu’s quality scores. It’s important to also choose the right bids that are suitable for your ad. Otherwise you will be overspending and receiving less traffic. The quality score will take time to develop if you are just starting out your campaign. So, while the quality score is good to keep in mind, it is not a huge deal as long as the number isn’t too low.
You can also assign your daily budget which confirms to Baidu how much you are willing to spend to receive clicks on your ad. Maximum daily budgets can be set to each campaign on the “account level”. You will also need to set a maximum CPC (click-per-cost) for each ad unit and effectively manage your keyword bidding by setting a maximum CPC on your precise keywords.
Selecting your Ad Target Location and Time to Run
Here you will need to select the geolocation of your Baidu Ads campaign. You can set the campaign to a specific province or city. If you haven’t chosen a specific area for your ad to be seen, Baidu PPC will automatically set your campaign to worldwide, meaning that everyone who is searching on Baidu has the potential to see your ads. If you want your ads to be exclusively seen in China you will need to uncheck “rest of the world”, “Hong Kong”, “Macau”, and “Taiwan”.
You can simply choose what time and which days you want your ad to run on Baidu. However, you cannot spread your budget across different times of the day.
Strategize Creative Content
Getting the basics right is crucial, so rather than just translating your ad copy, we recommend using experts inside the country so that you can localize your advertisements for Chinese audiences.
Baidu ads are allowed to contain a title, meta-description and a display URL. The title cannot exceed 50 Chinese characters and the description cannot exceed 80. You can also add images to the creative section. It is also advisable to analyze and update your ad copy from time to time, use ad customizers to customize content based on user experience, and install test ad extensions to receive data on your ads.
Utilize Baidu Analytics and Live Chat
With a Baidu ad account, you will be able to link Baidu Analytics/ Baidu Tongji directly to your ad campaigns for free. The system is similar to Google Analytics but is limited in features in comparison.
To access Baidu Analytics, you will need to be logged into your Baidu PPC account. From there, open a new tab and enter the URL: tongji.baidu.com. Your user details will be the same as your Baidu PPC account.
Here you will be able to find analytics such as:
- The conversion rate of your campaign.
- The conversion rate per ad unit.
- Conversation rate against each keyword.
- Daily number of conversions.
You can also activate live chat functions with Baidu Shangqiao, which can increase the number of leads generated.
Analysis Results and Make Adjustments to your Baidu advertising campaigns
It’s unlikely that you will create the perfect campaign on the first try. This is why analytic tools are extremely helpful so that you can optimize your ads and achieve the highest possible conversion rate. Look for the latest updates and features and test them out to see what works best for your campaign.
One way to display your ads will be through Baidu Tuigang. It is a PPC advertising platform which works similar to Google ads. Your ads will appear on the search engine results of Baidu and other websites directly linked with Baidu.
Baidu also accommodates for video ads with Baidu TV. Here, advertisers can select which sites they want their video ads to be displayed. Alternatively, for heavily content-based ads, you can create Information feed ads which will appear on Baidu News and Baidu Forum.
Finally, you can consider using Baidu Brand Zone for increasing the exposure of your brand or company. Brand Zone is a space to promote products, your brand image and brand message, as well as inform consumers of special offers. While Brand Zone ads have a fee of around $1,500 per month, your ad will be positioned at the top of SERP pages, ranking higher than competing ads.
The Chinese Digital Ecosystem is one of the most complex and dynamic internet ecosystems around the world. With such a fast-pacing complex environment, the help of an experienced Digital Marketing Agency is crucial to get things done effectively.
With its HQ based in Shanghai and with offices around the world, Sekkei Studio is a 13 years old Digital Marketing Agency that has been helping companies and governments with their Digital Strategy and execution in China. Contact us to get more information about how we can help your company with Baidu Ads campaigns.