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 3rdlargest share of the search market in China, after Sogou.

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, Sogou, and 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 above, Baidu has features which differ from Google AdWords. For example, it has a feature called Brand Zone that almost dominates the entire search results. It lets you display banner ads and more based on keywords.

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 fewer 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 25-30% 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 the 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 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 average PPC campaign conversion rate is about 15% higher in Search 360, as it attracts younger users with more purchasing power. The cost-efficiency of running paid search ads on 360 Search is relatively high.

360 Search does not charge an account setup fee and the initial ad spend deposit costs 30,000 RMB. Though all Chinese search engines follow the same paperwork, 360 Search is favored by foreign marketers for their faster and straightforward advertiser’s account application.

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 is 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.

Clicks on Google AdWords are expensive, maybe even costing you an average of 1 to 2 USD a click! But, 360 Search is exponentially cheaper for only 0.30 RMB, 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 is a 360 search authorized dealer. Contact us today for help with your digital marketing campaigns in China.

Featured Photo by Violette Filippini on Unsplash (edited)