Good question.

First some background…

Baidu Wangmeng is similar to Google AdWords’ display network. Both allow advertisers to have their advertisements placed on a wide network of websites that have signed up with Baidu or Google. They are by no means the only display networks out there, but they are big ones.

Both networks allow contextual targeting as well as several other targeting methods. Baidu allows targeting via user behavior (remarketing), geography and target website, while Google allows targeting via these methods as well as “interest categories”, topics and language.

So, for advertisers, which platform is better?

The simple answer: AdWords.

We’ve used both for various projects. We find AdWords to provide better quality traffic, with fewer suspicious-looking visitors. While Baidu click fraud is taken seriously by Baidu, and we do believe they do quite well in protecting against it for paid search advertising, they still seem to be having more problems when it comes to guarding against click fraud with their display network. Click fraud aside, Google’s targeting methods seem to be more reliable as well.

Note that we use both of these networks sparingly. While we find that we can make paid search advertising effective for most projects we work on (80% +), display networks should be tested carefully and will only be suitable for some projects.

Ultimately, it comes down to money, and we feel advertisers are more likely to make money from AdWords than from Baidu Wangmeng.

With that being said, we also recommend Baidu’s behavioral targeting tool.

Baidu’s behavioral targeting (retargeting) feature is quite useful, and we’ve made it part of our ‘best practice’ Chinese paid search marketing strategy due to a high success rate. We love that it can be used to target users based on search behavior, click behavior or visit behavior.

And what do other marketers think?

We asked some other digital advertising specialists whether they prefer to advertise with Google AdWords or Baidu Wangmeng.

  1. 3 preferred Baidu Wangmeng.
  2. 4 preferred Google AdWords display network.
  3. 3 said the 2 networks were about the same, including one person that said they were both no good.

But what about volume? Which platform can be scaled better?

Baidu Wangmeng has over 600,000 registered publisher websites according to Baidu. Google AdSense has 2 million publisher sites according to Google, but we don’t know exactly how many of those are Chinese-language sites.

Some data from a DCCI report I found on Lu Songsong’s blog gives us some more numbers to chew on. Based on a webmaster survey, 49% said they use Baidu Lianmeng (the publisher-side brand of Baidu Wangmeng), while 31% said they use Google Adsense. Also noteworthy are the presence of Discuz! and Taobao Lianmeng, with 33% and 23% usage respectively. The list is rounded out with SogouYiqifaHeima89lianmeng and UnionSky.

Webmaster participation rates for Baidu Wangmeng, Google AdSense and other ad platforms.

So, there you have it. Hope this info was useful for you.

Of course, all of the information above is meant to be a general overview.

Actual marketing strategies should be determined on a case-by-case basis. If you want help with a specific display advertising or search advertising project in China, feel free to contact me.

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