First and foremost when implementing your SEM plan targeting China, you’ll need to know the platforms that fit your business’ operational needs.
As you may know, Baidu Ads (also known as Baidu PPC or Baidu phoenix nest) is by many measures the most popular paid search platform used by Chinese search marketers. Beyond that, there are a few 2nd tier PPC platforms as well as PPC advertising options on major Chinese social media websites.
Knowing the differences will help you make an educated decision on which best suits your goals.
Baidu Ads is the dominant SEM platform in China. It's developed by the highest trafficked search engine in China - Baidu. It works straightforwardly like Google Ads - you bid on a list of keywords, and the ads in your Baidu Ads account are automatically displayed to users searching for those keywords on Baidu.
Please note Baidu Ads accounts are independent of regular Baidu accounts. That means you will need to apply for a Baidu PPC account before running any Baidu PPC campaigns.
Baidu Ads has a minimum budget of 50 RMB per day.
Shenma is a Chinese mobile search engine, which is only available on mobile services. It is a joint venture between Alibaba Group and UCWeb and has become another prominent SEM platform in China due to its massive success among Chinese mobile users.
It generally offers cheaper cost-per-click (CPC) than Baidu Mobile.
If mobile is the primary platform you want to target, you should put Shenma Search Ads in your search marketing strategy.
Although Sogou's market share is not that impressive as a search engine compared with Baidu, its extensive network of Chinese websites and apps makes it a platform you can not afford to miss.
First, Sogou Input is the most popular desktop and mobile input method in China, which has Sogou Web Search integrated. When people type using Sogou Input, they can conveniently do a web search using the text they have input.
Second, it has established partnerships with Chinese cell phone brands including Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Lenovo.
Third, it also has partnerships with Chinese internet big names including WeChat, Zhihu, QQ Browser, Chrome, and Sogou Mobile Browser.
360 Search Ads
Being the web search engine owned and operated by Qihoo 360, 360 Search is deeply integrated with many other services that 360 offers, including its homepage service, mobile & PC assistants, as well as security software and apps.
360 Search brands itself as a safer search engine, protecting its users from online frauds and phishing sites.
360 Search Ads provides pay per click advertising on all its platforms, covering mobile, PC and app.
How to Choose a Platform?
There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing an SEM platform. It is all up to the goals you want to achieve with your Chinese PPC campaigns. If you are not sure which platform to use, Shifu is happy to help. Drop us a line today →