First part of this article series was discussing some features of Baidu advertising. However, as everything else in China, Baidu is not only roses. In a way to succeed, a campaign on Baidu will face some challenges, which people who did only Google before, might not expect. Let’s consider some of those challenges.
Main challenges of Baidu SEM campaign.
- Language and cultural differences. Well this is the most obvious – you need to have somebody who knows Chinese and understands China. Baidu web-interface is all Chinese, there is an English version of Baidu Editor desctop application (sort of Google Editor for Baidu), but you should never rely on Google translate to create ads and keywords for Baidu, it will most likely not work.
- Currency and payments. Baidu system works with China yuan renminbi (RMB or CNY), Chinese currency. All click prices and costs are calculated in this currency. Foreign customers can make payments in U.S. dollars, but the amount will be converted to RMB when it reaches the account. So you need to keep track of all the currency rates and things like this. Another challenge is that Baidu welcomes mostly large foreign customers, so be ready for big prepayments. Operations in foreign currency is a pain in China, there is a complicated official procedure of currency conversion, therefore you may need to wait for more than a week before seeing money on your account.
- Bureaucracy and regulations. Starting an account in Baidu is a way more complicated than in Google. You may be requested to provide your business licence, its translation into Chinese (not always), as well as guarantee letter from company who runs advertised website that the website will not contain any illegal or fake content. Than, a special department at Baidu will look through advertised website and approve it for advertising. One reason for all this is that Internet is quite heavily regulated in China, for example, to publish some content online, you actually have to get „Internet Content Provider” license from the government. Another reason is that Baidu has been accused to publish ads of scams in the past, so they are trying to fight it now.
- System differences. Unlike Russia’s Yandex, campaign structure in Baidu is similar to Google. However, ad format is not. Ad length is counted not in characters, but in bytes, one Latin character meaning 1 byte, and one Chinese character meaning 2 bytes. Generally, ad texts can be longer than on Google, but there are 3 ad formats, depending on ad position (on the top or on the right). So if ads are made without taking this into account, they may be cut in some of the formats. Chinese is written without spaces between words, which has to be taken into account when creating ads as well.
- Have to work hard to make it efficient – while number of searches on Baidu is growing in fast pace, if a marketer is not careful, it is very easy to drain away all the budget without any results. Especially broad match has to be used with great care, as it tends to be „too broad”. Generally speaking, conversion rates are lower on Baidu that on Google, but CPC is also lower, so there is a possibility of great ROI.
- Need to talk to representative. In order to start an account or add money, you will always need to contact an employee and talk to them. And in many cases remind them several times about your existence. Baidu is a huge company, but there are only a tiny number of persons who can speak English, so if you are not sure who your contact person is, you might have really hard time communicating.
Everybody who is planning advertising activities in China, should consider Baidu. And as role of online advertising in China grows, role of Baidu will grow, too. But being successful on Baidu is not always easy, there can be many challenges on the way. Therefore, it is important that your agency knows Baidu and what is involved in succelful campaign on Baidu.