Opening a Baidu PPC account is much more complicated than creating a Google Adwords account. There are many more steps involved – and even more if you want to ensure a successful launch in the China market.
As an agency, we continue to receive many inquiries about setting up Baidu PPC accounts from western companies new to Chinese digital marketing. Many of them are reaching out because they don’t know where to start or are confused about the search advertising regulations in China.
Last year, the Chinese government announced increased regulation for online advertising, which led Baidu to develop a stricter and longer application process for PPC accounts.
In light of those changes, this post includes a breakdown of the complete procedure, as well as a list of required documents, to open a Baidu PPC account. It’s a realistic outline of 8 steps to help you get started with this key piece to an overall digital marketing plan in China.
1. Get Your Chinese Website Ready
First of all, you should have your English website translated into Mandarin Chinese. As Baidu targets Chinese consumers, the ad platform recommends Chinese language ads. Although English language sites are fine for Baidu ads, the bounce rate would likely be very high and you don’t want to waste money on targeting consumers who can’t read your website.
While businesses don’t need to have their website hosted in mainland China, companies do have to ensure the site can be opened in mainland China and have adequate site speed. Site loading experience can influence Baidu website verification as well as the results of PPC campaigns.
Since the essential function of PPC campaigns is generating conversions, we recommend checking to see if the site design is appealing to Chinese consumers and is relevant to people’s search results. Creating a well-designed Chinese website before applying a Baidu PPC account is the foundation for a successful launch.
2. Identify Your Location and Contact the Regional Baidu Reseller
Baidu only accepts local clients. It has authorized various local resellers and divisions to handle the PPC business, including setting up new accounts.
For companies with locations in China, they need to contact the local Baidu division or resellers directly. For example, a company with an office in Beijing should contact the Baidu Beijing division. If an office is located in a city without any Baidu division, you need to get in touch with the local reseller.
If you’re unsure, visit the Baidu PPC Application page to find the contact information of the local resellers/divisions of your area. Or you could fill out the form as the following screenshot shows. A Baidu representative will contact you after you leave your information.
The majority of western companies looking to gain a presence in China don’t yet have an office in China. In these cases, they need to contact an overseas reseller that provides Baidu service in the company’s home country.
Alternatively, businesses can seek out agencies that have the capability to help set up a Baidu PPC account opening process and existing contacts with the overseas Baidu resellers.
3. Provide Your Company Name and Website
After contacting the Baidu reseller, you will be asked to provide your company’s website address. This is the first step to verification. Baidu needs to verify if your site is valid and authentic, and if your industry is permitted to conduct search advertising.
For example, gambling and pornographic websites are not allowed for search ads. Some particular industries, such as financial, medical, drug, and health products, are difficult to get the permission and Baidu may require additional certificate or licenses.
4. Submit Supporting Documents
After your site has passed the first verification from Baidu, you will be asked to submit a complete list of legal documents for further evaluation. For foreign companies, five documents are needed:
- Copy of Business Registration Certificate and the handwritten statement ‘文件与原文件一致’ (“it is same as the original”).
The certificate should include your company name, registered office, company number and company name change paper, if applicable.
- Simplified Chinese Translation of Business Registration Certificate.
- Website homepage screenshot (showing URL) and written statement ‘与网站一致’ (it is same as the website”).
Why? Baidu needs to evaluate your website further to verify if the site can be loaded, if the site is developed completely with no dead links, if the site includes company name, address and contact info, and if all the company information listed on the site is consistent with your business registration certificate.
If necessary, you may need to adjust the website content to adhere to Baidu’s stringent requirements. In particular, the About Us or Contact Us page should include the full registered name of the company, company address, and phone number.
- Local government official website search
Go to your local government official website to search for your company information, and then submit a screenshot of the final query page showing URL. You have to provide the page with your handwritten statement ‘与网站一致’ (“it is same as the website”). If Chinese translation is needed, you can put the Chinese words on the side of every English character on the same page.
- Business Bank Account Statement
This includes bank account information, local tax payment certificate, check, bank statement, bank payment order form. Note: you can provide any one of the above.
For example, if you provide the bank account information, you should include bank name, business account name, account number, bank branch name (if applicable), and bank branch address.
- A few additional notes
- The documents in a foreign language must be provided with a translation.
- All submitted documents are required to be stamped with advertiser’s official company seal/chop. The name of the advertising company needs to be shown.
- Scanning of these documents needs to be in full color and be sent with a handwritten statement “与原件一致” (“same as original”). The company stamp could be replaced by the signature of an authorized staff member of the advertiser.
- The letter of commitment or authorization signed and stamped by the client. Different Baidu resellers may require a different letter of commitment. Generally, it will be provided by the Baidu reseller.
5. Be Patient and Follow Up on the Process
Usually it takes 2-4 weeks to have a Baidu PPC account approved after you submit all the documents. You have to communicate with your representatives frequently to make sure things are moving forward. The evaluation process is strict, and you need to be very patient.
It’s not unusual for there to be some back and forth with the reseller as they review, have questions, or notice items missing. You need to revise or resubmit the particular documents until all of them get approved.
While you’re waiting for final approval, we recommend working on your account structure, so you’ll be ready to go once you receive final approval. You can plan the structure, conduct keyword research, generate keyword lists, and create ads. If you have all these things ready, you can set up the account as soon as you receive access.
6. Sign the Contract
If you’ve made it to this step, congratulations! It means you have all legal material approved and you’re very close to getting your own Baidu PPC account. The Baidu reseller will send along the Baidu Platform contract, which contains privacy terms and advertising policy.
The contract can vary. If you’re working with an agency, it will be signed between the Baidu reseller and your agency. If you’re setting up the account directly, it will be signed by the Baidu reseller and your company representatives. Some Baidu resellers may not be able to provide an English contract, so plan on extra time for the translation and review.
7. Make a Down Payment
Baidu requires pre-paying the down payment for PPC ad spends. Also, some resellers in Mainland China require an annual service fee and account creation fee. However, that’s rarely the case for overseas clients with no office in China.
The payment process can be a challenge for a non-Chinese company since Baidu does not accept any form of international payment methods. You need to transfer your ad budget to the Baidu reseller through an international wire transfer.
Make sure you get the Baidu reseller’s complete bank information to ensure the money is transferred successfully. If your reseller is located in Mainland China, you need to transfer the amount in Chinese Yuan. If your reseller is located in other areas, they probably cannot receive CN Yuan. The most secure way is transferring US dollars.
8. Activate Your Baidu PPC Account
This is the final step. Once Baidu receives your pre-payment, they will release you PPC account within 3-5 working days. You will get an account name and temporary password. Change the password after logging in the first time.
With your account structure already planned (see step 5), you should be able to set up the account and begin running campaigns fairly quickly. Remember that you need to understand your target audience deeply and leverage Baidu PPC tools to make your campaigns as targeted (and successful) as possible.
As the Chinese online advertising marketing is more regulated, it does require patience, perseverance, and expertise of the Chinese market to open a Baidu account.
The positive side is the whole process can screen out many illegal competitors and make the search environment cleaner and more reliable for the audience. Baidu PPC is still one of the most effective and efficient digital marketing tools in China and the extra effort will be pay off in the long run.
I hope this outline clarified the steps it takes to open a Baidu PPC account. For any further questions or concerns, please contact us.