China’s 2nd Largest Search Engine
When Chinese search engines are discussed, Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing is never far behind. PPC marketing is a fast, effective method of promotion for business owners that provides instant results. There are several major Chinese PPC platforms and often it can be difficult to decide which search engines can best meet your needs for marketing in China.
Baidu may be still the number one most popular search engine in China, but it is important to remember that it is not the only one. Sogou, as China's 2nd largest search engine, is rapidly gaining strength, particularly in light of the mobile trend and the Baidu SEM incident.
In this article we will help you to learn more about the alternative to Baidu and better understand the Chinese PPC and search engine marketplace.
An introduction to the Chinese search engine
Sogou has a user base of approximately 521 million and is a strategic investment by Tencent, the fourth largest internet company in the world. During 2015, its revenue reached an impressive USD $592 million, representing a 53% year-on-year growth. During the second quarter of 2015, its mobile search volume increased 80% year-over-year, which contributed to almost 50% of total revenue.
In terms of its total mobile search market share in China, it holds an impressive 18% with 560 million monthly active users and a 71.6% penetration rate. Its desktop search alone covers 320 million monthly users. As an additional benefit, with Sohu and Tencent support, its search engine has traffic advantages both for desktop and mobile channels from the official Sohu and QQ websites, QQ browser and Sogou smart input, etc. That's a huge volume of traffic that Chinese PPC can reach.
We can learn a lot from the user demographics, and the user mobile statistics are no exception. 56% of the users are male and 44% are female. They are young, with 77% of mobile users aged below 35. They are much more active online than the older Chinese generation. It is predicted that this younger generation of Chinese will drive both future growth in spending and the types of products and services that will be in demand.
This group of mobile users are also highly educated. 60% are undergraduates with 11% holding a dual degree, Master’s degree or MBA.
Mobile statistics show that users are predominantly based in economically developed areas of China. Of even more interest to those seeking mobile user data is that 77% of users were either satisfied or very satisfied with the brand. That is good news for those looking to market with Sogou as it means a viable investment in the long term.
The majority of Sogou’s active users choose to use the search engine exclusively when they browse online, so there is rarely any overlap with alternative search engines. The low number of shared users will also enable the company to extend their reach to their customers, even beyond that of Baidu and So.com (360 Search). Have a look at these comparisons.
- Sogou vs. Baidu: Only 33.4% of active Sogou users will use Baidu
- Sogou vs. So.com (360 Search): Just 27.8% of Sogou’s active users will also use So.com
Sogou is unique to other China search engines in that it integrates content from three social media networks owned by Tencent: WeChat, QQ and Zhihu. This content is not available to any of the other search engines including Baidu. As a result, it gives Sogou the ability to enable wider search results and attract a social media savvy user base, benefiting any would-be marketers.
Interestingly, it also dominates the Chinese smart input market with in excess of a 91% market share, 507 million users, and an enormous 95% penetration rate. But what does it mean in real terms and in innovation to users as well as businesses?
- Sogou smart input can display high-relevancy search results based on both character input and search keywords.
- Sogou smart input can display a shortcut search result based on character input even when users don’t open a search engine in the search bar.
- Sogou smart input users can personalise their input boxes with “skins” ensuring a huge attraction for the younger generations who represent viability for marketers in the long-term.
These mobile search features gives it an advantage over its competitors. In 2015, their mobile search traffic overtook desktop as the key method of search. Cleverly, Sogou has worked with Tencent’s WeChat, adding extra capabilities to their mobile search feature, allowing the company to be highly competitive in the marketplace.
SEM opportunity for digital markets
From an SEM perspective, Sogou also has a comprehensive SEM product, offering everything other search engines do, but also bringing additional unique channels such as smart input, social content, etc.
In addition to the product, its mobile search users have a positive view of online ads. Over 40% of mobile search users have a positive view of online advertisements, which bodes well for business owners. 7% are very positive about internet ads and feel that online ads are very creative and useful. 33% of them are quite positive about it; they think it’s a reasonable way for an internet company to do their business. According to Target Group Index (TGI), Sogou’s positive feedback level is higher than the industry average.
Overall mobile ads have a positive impact on more than half of Sogou users. After viewing mobile ads, 60% of the users tried to get more information about the product. In addition, the ads also have a positive influence on user behaviour. After seeing the ad, 44% of the users visited the product website and an overwhelming 32% of users purchased the product. 30% of users even recommended the product to their friends.
In terms of cost, Sogou has a lower CPC than that of Baidu and So.com making it an even more attractive prospect. Businesses can effectively target a variety of customers with a lower CPC. Price comparison is definitely an important factor when looking to advertise on search engines.
Choosing Sogou for Chinese PPC
Looking at the overall picture, Sogou does indeed have a lot going for it. It is worth weighing up all the factors before you decide which search engine will meet your corporate and marketing requirements. Rather than only looking at Baidu, to include Sogou as part of your media portfolio for Chinese PPC needs, is giving yourself a great advantage.