China already has the largest online population in the world, with 564 million users reported at the end of 2012, nearly nine times the UK population. However, the potential for growth is still enormous. Only 14% of China’s 1.3 billion residents are buying online, compared to about 54% in the US. The share of online shoppers in China is estimated to reach 47% by 2015.
In Chinese digital marketing, Baidu is the biggest market player. Baidu offers different tools and online platforms and though the interfaces and language are different from Google, the principles are similar. For the majority of European companies, the most difficult part is to successfully open a Baidu PPC account.
It normally takes at least two weeks to finalise all the required process and open an account and even then, there are tight regulations that have to be followed. (Econsultancys Baidu Search Best Practice Guide)
For some industries, Baidu might require additional certificates on top of the following documents:
- A Chinese website
The first step of opening an account is to send Baidu your Chinese websites URL, with a screenshot of the homepage. At this stage, Baidu will inform you of whether your products are permitted under Chinese regulations. Gambling and pornographic websites, for example, are strictly restricted. Similarly, food and medical websites may need additional certificates.
It’s no longer a compulsory requirement that the website be hosted in China. English language websites are also permitted, however the bounce rate should be expected to be as high as 85%.
- Business license / Company registration / Certificate of Incorporation
A scanned copy of the company qualification is required, as well as a consistent business name both on your website and business license.
Occasionally, Baidu might require a copy of the passport (or photographic evidence of this document), belonging to the individual who signed the business license. However, this is an infrequent request.
All English documents must be translated into Chinese through Baidus certified translation companies in Beijing. However, this process can be omitted if the Baidu International Office chooses.
- Baidu and client contract
After the verification process, Baidu will issue a contact between the client and itself, in both Chinese and English, both of these copies need to be consequently signed.
- Cost of the PPC account
This is the final step before activating the account. As soon as the correct monetary amount has been submitted to the account, Baidu will release your account within 3-5 working days.
Baidu is a pre-pay system which differs from Google and other search engines. For international accounts, the required deposit is between RMB 10,600 Yuan to RMB 30,000 Yuan (approx. £1,080 – £3,057) depending on the industry in question. For domestic account, this is considerably lower; the required deposit in this case being RMB 5,600 Yuan (approx. £571).
Accounts can be topped up at any time when the fund is running low. Your campaigns will go offline automatically when the money has been spent.
- First set of keywords verified by Baidu (optional)
Depending on the industry, the first round of keywords might require checking. Try to avoid using any words like the best, the most etc. Baidu will ask you to remove these terms from the keywords.
In our previous blog How to open a Baidu PPC account, one of our readers asked about the payment method – Baidu has confirmed that this will be a B2B transaction. As long as the card you choose to use can perform a business to business bank transfer, then it will be in keeping with Baidus requirement. The only added necessity is that the payment account must belong to the company that has opened the Baidu PPC account. The exact amount deducted on the day will be based on the currency rate.
How to monitor your PPC campaign?
Now your Baidu account is live, the next step is to closely monitor your campaigns and increase the ROI.
Baidu offers both online and offline platforms for campaign management. They have almost exactly the same functions, with only one major difference. The online platform offers live data and releases any changes or actions immediately, while the offline tool is more like a database, storing historical data and only publishing changes you have made when you are ready.
- The online platform can be found at www.baidu.com:
- The offline version is called Baidu Editor, found at editor.baidu.com
Any other issues?
As previously discussed, Baidu has very strict rules and policies. The search engine is constantly censoring website content, in-line with Chinese government legislation. Your account might be blocked immediately without notice if you fail to follow these regulations.
With government regulations changing so regularly, and without Baidu publishing an updated list of platform approved content, this surveillance is quite complex. Therefore it is important for European companies to work with a reputable search agency or legal advisor, familiar with Chinese policies.
For more information on opening a Baidu account please get in touch on 0113 212 1211 or [email protected].