Understanding search behaviour in China


SHANGHAI: Baidu is by far the most used search engine in China, but eight in ten people use more than one search engine and e-commerce is emerging as a second battlefield for search, according to data from OMD China.

The agency’s Dive Search report was based on tracking the search behaviours of 150 people across all their devices and the platforms they used for two weeks, as well as a quantitative survey of 750 category users in automobile, travel and skincare.

The participants averaged five searches per day, and out of the 13,355 search strings analysed product and service-related searches accounted for just 19% of the total; the single biggest search category was ‘basic life necessities’, followed by variety shows/movies and study/education.

When looking at the three specific categories considered, the report found that searchers already have a brand or product name in mind when they search.

More generally, it appears that a single search engine is often not sufficient. Baidu users, for example, will frequently turn to 360 or Sogou as well, while primary users of those two engines also use Baidu.

And while Baidu scored significantly above average in several areas, including delivering relevant results, having a variety of search options (e.g. picture or voice) and helpful options to broach or tighten a search, users rated it behind other search engines for the amount of ads they were shown.

When OMD looked at the performance of Baidu’s Brand Zone – a paid for service that enables brands to dominate the search results page with text and images – it found that this worked well for the automotive and skincare categories but not for travel.

Search remains dominated by search engines which take 85% of all searches, but e-commerce is emerging from the remaining pack with a 9% share – well ahead of the 1% or 2% claimed by social media or video sites.

“By gaining a better understanding of these behaviours, brands can enhance their practices to ensure they are present at the critical moments of the Search journey,” said , Bhasker Jaiswal, Managing Partner of OMD China.

Sourced from OMD China, Baidu; additional content by WARC staff

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