B2B marketers familiar with search engine advertising on Google AdWords will likely find it easier to understand Baidu PPC. They share many of similarities, such as text and display ads, a cost-per-click (CPC) price system is based on the market bids, and similar account architecture.
However there are key differences between Baidu PPC and Google AdWords as well.
To help B2B marketers gain a better sense of the nuances of Baidu PPC, I’ve come up with more than a dozen distinctions between the two paid ad platforms ranging from account and settings to management and optimization.
In this post, I’ll first outline the eight ways Baidu PPC differs from AdWords from an account and settings perspective. Next month, we’ll look at some differences in account management and optimization.
Let’s get started!
Paid Advertising Products
AdWords provides a range of paid advertising products, such as display, text, search, shopping, video, and app ads.
In Baidu PPC, B2B marketers can manage a much broader range of advertising products, which includes display ads, text search ads, information feed ads, as well as unique products offerings, like Brand Zone, and Baidu Knowledge.
Information Feed Ads
Launched in 2016, this type of feed flow ads are mixed with organic content and are displayed in content-driven Baidu products, such as Baidu Forum, Baidu News, and more.
A special product available only to the brand owner, Brand Zone is a space to showcase and introduce the company or brand. It often includes links to the company’s website, news, signature products, and promotion information.
This type of ad normally ranks to the top position on the SERP, and pushes down all the competing ads.
For example, when people search for Nike, they can get to know much important information around this brand within one second (see image below).
This unique Baidu offering is on the expensive side (a flat rate of around $1,500 a month). To get an exact quote, B2B marketers need to discuss with their Baidu representative or a reseller.
Originally launched as an organic Q&A product, similar to Quora, this Baidu-owned product has offered advertising options since 2015.
When people search on Baidu, the relevant Knowledge results will appear — and they can rank very high and be mixed with the organic results. Because Baidu Knowledge is a platform people trust, they see those results as more trustworthy compared to regular ads.
To create an AdWords account, a Gmail account and credit card are enough, and the whole process can be done in minutes.
It’s a different story when opening a Baidu PPC account. B2B marketers need to first find the appropriate reseller, then submit all the legal documents to verify your business and prove site ownership, and make a down payment.
The whole process can take one to two months. I’ve covered the intricacies and challenges of setting up a Baidu PPC account previously.
Fees and Payment
An AdWords account is free to setup and companies can run ads based on credit. For businesses with substantial paid search budgets, Google AdWords allows for monthly invoicing.
A Baidu PPC account is also free to open, but in order to start running ads, businesses need to make a minimum down payment as ￥6,000 (around $900) if located in China. Sometimes local resellers may charge a management fee as well.
The major difference is Baidu requires businesses prepay their advertising spend. Marketers need to carefully plan their monthly budget and make sure to transfer the money into their Baidu account before all the funding has been spent. Keep in mind, if you make the wire transfer from another country, the process typically takes 7-10 days.
Additionally, Baidu recommends companies pay a ￥600 RMB (around $90) yearly verification fee. By verifying, Baidu identifies that the businesses are legitimate and gives assurance to its users that its paid ad listings are all genuine.
With the verification, a business’s ads are shown with an icon of V. Internet users can hover their mouse over the V symbol to see how the company scores on categories like reputation, website security, and transaction security.
Accessing the Account
It has never been a complicated process to access an AdWords account. Within seconds, marketers can access the AdWords interface through an authorized Google account.
It’s not as simple with Baidu PPC.
When first accessing the account, Baidu requires users to provide a Chinese phone number for security reasons. This phone number is tied to the Baidu PPC account. When changing computers, the number will need to be given again. If there is a change in the IP address, Baidu may ask to input the Chinese phone number and confirm with a verification code sent automatically by the PPC system.
The process becomes more complicated if an account holder is based in the US, but the colleague or client who owns the Chinese phone number is in China. The whole process of accessing an account may take a long time and require coordination between personnel in different locations and time zones.
Settings: Locations & Language
As Google is a global company, targeting different languages and locations is relatively simple with AdWords.
When running PPC campaigns on Baidu, only Chinese-speaking areas can be primarily targeted by default. Marketers can only choose the targeting options such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macaw, Taiwan, and general overseas.
In AdWords, a daily budget can only be set at the campaign level. With Baidu PPC, budgets can be set at both the account and campaign levels.
With a firm daily account budget in place, B2B marketers have more flexibility within their campaign budgets.
For example, at the start of ad campaigns, marketers may not know which campaign will perform best. With a firm daily budget in place, there is an opportunity to set a slightly higher budget than planned for each campaign, and then see which ones perform well and make adjustment accordingly. This feature eliminates the worry about spending more than the daily budget.
On the other hand, if an account is not spending out the daily budget, Baidu provides an optional tool called Yusuan LeiJi Bao (Budget Accumulation Tool).
This tool can automatically reallocate the daily budget that was not spent to other days with higher search traffic.
For example, if a budget is set at $100 per day but only spends $70 on a particular day, the remaining $30 will go to the other days that generate more traffic volume. This tool can help balance the peak and down times of searching on Baidu, and makes the work of account pacing much easier.
Settings: Delivery Method
There are two ways to deliver ads in AdWords: Standard and Accelerated. Most B2B marketers prefer to use the Standard option to optimize the delivery of ads and spend budget evenly over time. The Accelerated option is there if there is a need to spend budget more quickly.
In Baidu PPC, there is no choice. The system delivers ads in an accelerated mode by default. Advertisers may find their budget runs out early in the day, and then the ads stop showing.
This situation is challenging to most B2B marketers in China because without sufficient budget to run campaigns for a full day, it’s difficult to test what time of a day leads to the best ad performance.
In AdWords, there are three types of targeting on text search ads: device for mobile or desktop, geo-targeting, scheduling.
Baidu PPC provides those types, plus targeting based on interest. B2B marketers can target people who have similar search behavior, or with specific interests like business consulting, manufacturing, instruments, etc.
At face value, Baidu is very similar to Google AdWords. But B2B marketers looking to expand their presence into the China market, with the help of Baidu’s paid search products, need to understand Baidu’s key points of differentiation. Ultimately this will help marketers more effectively leverage Baidu tools and features.
As I mentioned above, this post emphasizes an account overview and account settings in particular.
Next month, we will emphasize key differences between Baidu PPC and Google Adwords related to account management, keyword research, and ad copy.
I’d love to read your questions and perspective via comments below or always feel free to contact us directly as well!