A partnership between Microsoft Bing and China's largest search engine Baidu could further erode Google's search market share in China.
Under the partnership announced this week, Bing will power the English-language search results on Baidu. Baidu CEO Assistant Zhang Dongchen, in a statement, said Baidu currently responds to millions of English search queries on a daily basis, with retrieval demands mostly coming from professionals in first-tier cities and college student groups.
"In the mean time, such explorations in English search will actively help Baidu develop its international market power," Zhang added. For Microsoft, the relationship will likely increase its penetration in the China.
In a separate email interview, Kaiser Kuo, international communications director at Baidu, said Bing will provide a number of search results displayed on Baidu's search engine results page (SERP) but clearly marked as having come from Bing, when users enter queries in English.
However, advertisers will not be able to buy paid search for these English results yet. "For the present, English results will be organic and not monetized search results," Kuo said.
And search marketers targeting China are not rushing to change their current SEO or SEM strategies following the Baidu-Bing announcement.
Gordon Tang, CEO at AdSage, a digital agency that provides paid search services in China, pointed out most Chinese people tend to use Google when they search in English, including himself.
But Google's search market share has been decreasing in China since a fallout with the Chinese government in March 2010; it relocated its search operations to Hong Kong.
If Bing starts to enable Chinese netizens search effectively in English, it is likely they will skip Google to use Baidu, Tang added.
While Chinese Internet users can search on Bing and via MSN China portal, its search market share is tiny compared to Baidu and Google.
Baidu commands the largest search market share in the country with more than 75 percent. Google had 19.2 percent of the market share during the first quarter of the year, down from 19.6 percent during the prior three months. Bing's market share is so small, it's listed under "others" at 2 percent based on figures from China research firm Analysys International.
According to a Dow Jones news report, Baidu already has a revenue-sharing deal with Microsoft, under which the Chinese company provides ads that appear in Bing search results in China.
For instance, when searching for a generic term like "Amazon Kindle", Baidu paid search results show Amazon China has bought the keywords, as shown below as well as IBM and other local sites.
When the same term is entered in the Chinese version of Bing, paid search results only reflect IBM China.
It remains to be seen if the recently announced Baidu-Bing partnership will extend revenue share between the two parties and whether it would encourage marketers to buy more English keywords on Baidu Phoenix Nest, the equivalent of Google Adwords in coming months.
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March 19, 2014