Baidu recently started enforcing its account verification initiative, and it has had quite an impact on account performance.
What Benefits Does Verification Provide?
An account does not need to be verified to advertise on Baidu. Advertisers still only need go through the basic setup process to get started. However, there are major benefits to getting verified.
Baidu recently released more details, and these are available within Baidu advertising accounts. You'll notice that a verified account can have between one to five stars. These stars are assigned based on how much money an advertiser spends over time and how well the advertiser has behaved.
I think one of the biggest benefits relates to ad positioning. Accounts that are not verified will not show up in the main search results column above organic results. They can only show on the right side. This can be a massive drag on click-through rates.
Accounts that aren't verified and with at least two stars (more on stars later) will see their expenses rise. Currently this hasn't been much of an issue for accounts we run, but it will grow in importance. Baidu has stated that the amount by which ad expenses are increased will continue to gradually rise.
Other benefits include the ability to use additional ad formats such as sub-links and videos; improved administrative support speed from Baidu; and no need to wait for new ads to be authorized before they are activated.
How Can an Account Be Verified?
For Chinese companies, this is pretty straightforward. There are several different combinations of paperwork that can be used including business licenses, passports, etc.
But for non-Chinese companies, the process isn't mature yet. For advertisers and PPC agencies, this can mean a lot of extra work dealing with administration and relationships. Still, I think it will be all smoothed out a couple months from now, at least for us. It's unlikely most Baidu resellers will figure out the process for non-Chinese companies soon since many of them still struggle with the initial account setup process.
To Sum It Up…
Chinese advertisers should get verified pronto, if they aren't already.
Non-Chinese companies should also get verified. They'll need to take care to choose a reseller that can get them through the verification process.
Unfortunately, the official documentation is available only in Chinese and only to users logged in to Baidu. But if you have some questions, please ask them in the comments.
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Tait Lawton is the founder of Nanjing Marketing Group, a company that provides Baidu advertising management services, Baidu account setup services and other Chinese-language digital marketing services. You can catch him on Twitter or Google Plus. He also writes the blog East-West-Connect.com.
March 19, 2014