Baidu, China’s equivalent of Google in search scope, is bringing a surplus of intent data to demand-side platform Brandscreen through a strategic deal the two have forged.
Using Brandscreen’s RTB platform, advertisers now have access to Baidu Exchange Service inventory spanning 500 million unique users and 15 billion impressions monthly; it’s estimated that Baidu commands 82% of search traffic in China. The company posted strong earnings in Q3, with revenues increasing 42.3% year-over-year to the tune of $1.45 billion, by US currency standards.
As summarized in AdExchanger’s China RTB report, 2012 and 2013 have represented a tipping point for Chinese exchanges and programmatic media buying. “The thing that’s important about China is the scale is just so immense,” said Stu Spiteri, CEO of Brandscreen. “Because the Internet cuts across all the efficiencies of otherwise regulated media — TV, outdoor, cable, newsprint — it will, because of the scale of programmatic, improve the efficiency in China.”
This will affect the broader display ecosystem, historically challenged by the adoption factor — third-party ad-serving technology and other advancements in automated bidding had not been prevalent in China to date. That is wholly reversing.
Although Baidu’s earnings were strong, TechCrunch reports that the company still has some miles to cover in bringing its mobile business up to speed with PC share; its $1.9 billion acquisition of Android app developer 92 Wireless Websoft will help it get there.
“There was a lot of education and a lot of working with them to see how we could [bring the data in] and all of those executional things,” Spiteri said, of the beginnings of the relationship with Baidu that began about a year ago. “We’re Truste-certified, and I think the trust factor in China is really important” to ensure data won’t be used outside of agreed-upon terms.
“We inherently know Brandscreen will reliably, effectively and transparently utilize our vast audience information for the purpose of driving our ad revenue, with their advertisers,” said Jack Shen, head of Baidu Exchange Service, in a statement.
Retail, luxury, auto and tech are the top categories to benefit from targeting through Baidu and Brandscreen.
“The biggest advertisers in China are among the most well-known luxury brands in the world,” Spiteri said. L’Oreal is among them. “It’s significant — the European or American brands who continue to foster brand awareness in the market.”
With access to search, view and click data from Baidu, search advertisers now have the scale to potentially “go from 100 million in addressable market to 400-500 million people across tier 2 or tier 3 cities,” he added. “It’s super exciting to bring that intent data to display.”
The Asia-Pacific region has represented significant growth opportunity for Brandscreen. With relationships to all local publishers and inventory supply like Sina, Alibaba/Taobao, Tencent and, now, Baidu, Brandscreen has upped its leadership presence in the region.
Formerly at Akamai and Google, Spiteri joined last April as president and CRO, assuming the role of CEO in August. Early in October, Brandscreen brought on former Mediamind and Performics exec Clement Tsang as managing director for greater China. The company also brought on Singapore-based CFO Jill Clark in February.
Although the growth trajectory is strong (the online advertising industry in China is an estimated $12.4 billion, or 102.4 billion yuan, business, according to iResearch), there are still hurdles to overcome.
“I think it would be data integrity,” Spiteri cited as one the top challenges. “Right now, the money is there, but it’s not pouring into the market because people don’t know if the reporting they’re getting is real or if they’re actually getting their ad displayed or if it was viewed. I think that discipline needs to be improved.”