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Brand Building and Reaching China's Connected Consumer

Hi, I’m Dalton Dorné, VP of Marketing here at Merkle. Today we’re going to talk about how advertisers can navigate China’s digital ecosystem, and ultimately, build their brand in China.

We all know that China is one of the world’s most exciting markets, and it’s no secret the opportunity for marketers is huge.

However, China is also a complex market, and Chinese consumers are among the world’s most brand-conscious buyers. In fact, they’re willing to pay more for branded products compared to their price-driven peers in other markets. This trend is also reflected in Chinese search behavior. In the US, searchers are more likely to search non-brand products and look for price comparisons amongst different retailers and brands. Chinese consumers are more likely to use search to research and validate brands beliefs, which, ultimately, may inform a higher-priced purchase.

As such, brand value is extremely important in China. Sounds like a brand manager's dream. But it's exceptionally important for digital marketers too.

It matters because China is the world’s largest mobile market, its rising middle class is extremely comfortable purchasing across digital devices, not to mention, nearly 90% of Chinese consumers use Baidu for search. Luckily, Baidu offers some pretty unique opportunities for brand building. As Merkle is Baidu’s first US headquartered reseller, we’re going to explore how marketers can take advantage of some of these unique offerings.

Probably the most exciting brand opportunity on Baidu is Baidu’s Brand Zone. Brand Zone allows advertisers to own a sizable amount of the SERP with brand content, which is similar to a SERP takeover experience as advertisers essentially own all the space above the fold. This is completely unique to Baidu and not available on other search engines.

There are a variety of formats and options within Brand Zone, and the experience is very customizable based on content, assets and consumer value-adds that the brand can provide.

Not surprisingly, Brand Zone works for exact match brand searches only. Baidu believes that for exact brand searches, the consumer is truly looking for a specific brand and therefore enjoys the rich brand experience that Brand Zone delivers. The results back up this belief. Engagement with Brand Zone is high, with an average CTR of over 50%. By comparison, data from our quarterly digital marketing report shows that advertisers see closer to a 25% CTR for brand searches on Google.

Beyond Search

While Baidu is China’s largest digital platform and the world’s fourth most trafficked site, there’s much more to Baidu than the search engine alone. Baidu has numerous successful and important properties, including Baidu Knows (community forums), Baidu Baike (wiki-like encyclopedia), Baidu Music, Baidu Map, Baidu Cloud, Baidu Space (social network) and more.

For enterprise brands looking to make a big splash in China, Baidu offers Brand Zone Matrix – which is the ability to have Brand Zone on up to six Baidu platforms - ensuring strong brand visibility and performance, at massive scale.

Brand Protection

While these are great opportunities for building your brand in China’s digital ecosystem, it’s equally important that you take steps to protect your brand as well. Designing and implementing a brand protection strategy is one of the first things Merkle does when onboarding new clients in China, and is a form of trademarking your brand keywords on Baidu.

Let’s quickly look at this brand search for Topshop. Without brand protection, Topshop is not able to secure the top placement on the Baidu SERP, with competitors like GAP and shopbop appearing above them using their brand name.

It’s an understatement, but ouch.

If you’re interested in learning more about unique ad formats on Baidu, check out my recent Dossier article “Brand Building in China’s Digital Golden Age”. For more information on how Merkle can help you with your Baidu marketing goals, visit our Baidu page.

Thanks for watching!