Baidu is the Google of China, commanding an unprecedented 63% of the search engine market share with over 4 billion searches in Q4 of 2011.

Before you get excited on the prospect of marketing through Baidu, there is a lot to understand about this major search engine overseas:

What is Baidu, Should I Care?

Roll the dice and take a chance with Baidu?

Baidu was founded in 2000 and has since become the major search engine within China. Their search index has grown to more than 700 million websites while their internal network which uses the Baidu Union partner platform (think: Google Adsense) has grown to more than 230,000.

In terms of opportunities, Baidu has much of the same offerings as Google here in the Western world.

Baidu has a very large advertising network consisting of P4P (pay for placement), ProTheme (contextual links for subscribers of the service), Baidu TV (video advertisements), Baidu Union (search box, toolbar, and sponsored links).

Should you care though? Perhaps. The Eastern world is emerging with technology and has a lot of untapped opportunities compared to the stiff competition in the West; placement in a major search engine such as Baidu can have great returns through their advertising network and doing proper SEO for the search engine.

However, one hurdle to overcome is that the search engine is in Chinese which definitely makes it difficult to mass translate your existing content and product offers for the platform.

Implications with Baidu

Here’s where things start to fall apart:

  • Baidu has an “illegal” PPC advertising platform that doesn’t just stop at ads in search results but actually allows companies to buy contextual listings (as in, you can il-legally buy #1 position). This may sound like a blessing but can raise some major legal implications down the road due to unfair business practices.
  • Baidu has patented a “DNA copyright” technology which automatically scans files uploaded by users (and businesses) and will remove them if they break copyright law. Despite your best efforts in creating original content, your products and content may be taken down simply because of China’s extreme angle on censorship.

China has one of the strictest policies about online information and place many firewalls and blocks on many websites the government deams inappropriate for their citizens. Your business may fit but it’s very risky considering the swing decisions made by the Chinese government.

What do you think? Do the rewards outweigh the risks?