Baidu, China’s largest internet search engine has held an an aggressive marketing campaign that has resulted in an increase in traffic and revenue.
Robin Li, chief executive, said after television advertisemenets during the Lunar New Year holiday last month, the company had seen ‘significant growth in traffic and customer spending’
Baidu reported a 31% per cent year-on-year increase in net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2008 and said revenues increased by 58% year-on-year to RMB902.1m ($132m) in the quarter — markedly slower than the 80 to 100% year-on-year rate of increase seen in past quarters.
Financial Times reports that in November, China Central Television, China’s main state broadcaster, twice attacked Baidu’s practice of mixing paid search results with ‘organic’ ones. It also criticised Baidu for carrying unlicensed medical websites among its search results.
The reports, and the public criticism of Baidu that followed, raised expectations that rival Google would benefit. The US internet search company trails Baidu in its share of the Chinese market by more than 30 percentage points, but is gaining fast.
Baidu reacted by removing some questionable paid search listings. Robein Li said this, coupled with the slowdown in the Chinese economy, had resulted in slower revenue growth.
Baidu said the clean-up of its customer base had shaved about 5% cent off its revenue. That continued to have an impact in the current quarter. But the weak economy was the bigger concern, the company said.
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