paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

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17. Baidu

Search, China (Public)

Last year’s rank: N/A

Digital Content Revenue

$2,302,192,000 (99% of total)


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Digital Snapshot

Dream on, Google. Baidu is the biggest search portal (source: iResearch) and the most-visited website (source: Alexa) in what is now the world’s largest online market. Beside search, products include news, Q&A, encyclopedia, document sharing, cloud storage, maps and toolbars and BaiduPay online payments. Like a certain other search site, most of Baidu’s comes from advertising, primarily from paid search links via its “P4P” platform. It’s a segment that has boomed in China, as small and medium businesses flocked to advertise online, boosting Baidu revenue by 83.2 percent and paid clicks by 64.2 percent in 2011.

Key Move

After a brush with the law, Baidu is gradually gaining acceptance, but is still raising a finger to the west. Sued by record labels for deep-linking to illegally hosted MP3 songs in a land rife with piracy, the company eventually agreed to officially license music to create its own legal service in 2011, the ad-supported Baidu Ting. More importantly, it kicked off its mobile ambitions by joining other Chinese operators in launching an own-brand mobile OS based on Android. Baidu Yi, as it is called, supports Baidu services just like Android supports Google’s, and the Mountain View company is nowhere to be found on Yi handsets.

Our Methodology

The company said that online marketing services was 99.9 percent of 2011 revenue, and disclosed the actual amount we have logged. Remaining revenue was “other services” revenue.

Source: SEC: 2011 Annual Report

– RA

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