■ Characteristics of 360 Search, China’s 2nd Largest Search Engine
This time we are going to talk about paid search on China’s 360 Search, which is the engine that holds the 2nd largest share of the search market in China, after Baidu. For most of the world, it’s Google AdWords. In Japan, where we are located, the search market is divided roughly evenly between Google AdWords and Yahoo! Japan. For China, it’s Baidu, then 360 Search.
When expanding into China, many people consider Baidu first for their paid search advertising. But in fact, 360 Search’s features, such as its admin screen and settings, are very similar to Google AdWords’, which means it makes it a lot easier to understand and manage than Baidu. 360 Search allows for not only search ads, but display ads as well, so popular display remarketing is also an option. It even features dynamic remarketing functions as well, so in many ways it imitates Google AdWords and is a very approachable engine to start marketing online in China.
As referenced to above, Baidu has features which differ from Google AdWords. For example, it has a feature that lets you display banner ads based on keywords that users have searched for in the past. Ad targeting based on keywords searched for by users is actually against Google AdWords’ policy. And, as you might expect, 360 Search, which follows Google AdWords’ lead, doesn’t have this feature. These features of Baidu which are linked to users’ identities make a huge difference in terms of public opinion and search engine policy, and it is possible that these features will disappear in the future.
■ Traffic from 360 Search may be less than you hope for
One important thing that you need to take into consideration when marketing on 360 Search is that your ad may get less impressions than you expect, and there may be very little total search traffic. For those who are already using Google AdWords and Baidu, you might calculate that since 360 Search accounts for about 20% of the search market, you’ll receive roughly that many impressions. However, in many cases, the web traffic from 360 Search is lower than estimated, and companies need to revise their calculations. This may be due to a difference in user demographics and/or more precise triggering of ads.
If you plan to run paid search ads in the Chinese market, I doubt that you would skip over Baidu and only rely on 360 Search. However, it is worth keeping in mind this differences in search traffic.
■ It is difficult to measure the impact of paid search advertising on 360 Search
Those who are already running campaigns on Google AdWords might feel that it’s difficult to measure the impact of paid search advertising via 360 Search or Baidu. With Google AdWords, you can add its conversion tags to your website and track conversions to measure its effectiveness. It is not the case for 360 Search. For example, if a user buys three bottles of a shampoo at 5 USD in a single “cart”, the total sales would be 15 USD. For Google AdWords, you know that one conversion led to three products being sold, and that you made a total of 15 USD. For 360 Search, on the other hand, you only know that you made one sale.
If you want to track data in the same fashion as you do for Google AdWords, then you could, for example, use Google Analytics and adjust the settings as necessary. Or, you could use a third-party tool and adjust it to work in the same way as Google Analytics. Very few companies only use Google Analytics for their performance tracking anyway though. Most measure different media with separate tags/management screens, including even those lesser known third party tools. Finding the best tools that work for your situation is key.
■ There is almost no risk to starting paid search on 360 Search
If you’ve run paid search ads on Baidu and had a certain degree of success, then we recommend also running campaigns on 360 Search. The reason is that there is almost no risk in doing so. If you aren’t getting results from Baidu, then you won’t get results from 360 Search. However, in comparison to Baidu, the return on investment (ROI) is a lot higher for 360 Search: if you’re getting 2000% ROI on Baidu, you might get 10000% or 20000% (5 to 10 times) on 360 Search.
The cost-efficiency of running paid search ads on 360 Search is relatively high. There are cases of it taking 100 USD to sell a single product on Baidu, whereas only 10-20 USD was sufficient to sell the same product on 360 Search. In our experience, when companies run paid search ads on 360 Search, they’re able to meet their cost-efficiency targets in most cases. The first reason for this is that the number of companies advertising on it still very small: On Baidu, you might be competing against the ads of 5 other companies, whereas on 360 Search, you might be the only one. Additionally, 360 Search is still a young search engine, so the cost of a single “click” is simply much cheaper. It could be half the price of what you’d pay on Baidu, or even less.
Another important characteristic of 360 Search is that it is more compatible for B2B advertising than B2C. And in terms of industry, it appears to be most compatible with technology and FX/financial products. Users from those industries prefer 360 Search and will use it more frequently. Still, though, many foreign financial firms are not running ads on it. Clicks for financial ads on Google AdWords are expensive, maybe even costing you 10 to 20 USD a click! But 360 Search is exponentially cheaper, so the difference in cost-efficiency clearly stands out.
■Seriously consider 360 Search if you want to market online in China
In light of the information shared above, for those who are already running ads on Baidu, we definitely recommend expanding out into 360 Search. We especially recommend this for B2B businesses who are not seeing the results they had hoped for on Baidu or for those companies who want to increase their share of the online Chinese search market.
Info Cubic Japan
Digital Marketing Team