Battle Appears Again in Chinese Search Engine Market
- On January 10, 2021
- china search engines, chinese search engines
In the search engine field, players are easy to enter but difficult to grow bigger. ByteDance once again launched an assault on Baidu.
Disintegrate Baidu’s dominance
In the field of search engines, whether it is Tencent Search, Sogou Search, or 360 Search, they have tried to kill Baidu, but without exception, they all ended in no way.
In March 2010, Google announced its withdrawal from the Chinese mainland market and left a 26% market share. Before that, Soso, which lacked search technology, had been relying on Google to provide technical support to survive and continue.
After Google withdrew from the Chinese mainland market, Tencent, which lost its technical support, announced the establishment of “SOSO”. This is also the first time Tencent has operated search as a core department. Tencent has invested a huge sum of 2 billion yuan in order to support Sousou’s fight for the market share left by Google, but Sousou’s market share is always within 10%.
As Tencent’s core business, Sousou has never been able to realize its dream of dominating the Chinese search engine field. In the fall of 2013, in the face of increasingly dismal results, Tencent finally sold Soso to Sogou in exchange for a 36.5% stake in Sogou.
Google’s withdrawal from the Chinese mainland market has given Sogou search hope.
In August 2010, Sohu and Alibaba reached a cooperation agreement and announced the spin-off of its search business Sogou to form an independent company. Later, Tencent merged Soso into Sogou.
However, unlike Tencent Sousou, Sogou search did not choose to engage with Baidu head-on, but to seize market share through differentiated content service ecology and AI intelligent service innovation. With the resources of Alibaba and Tencent, Sogou continues to operate on medical consultation and intelligent question and answer.
For the entire year of 2011, Sogou’s traffic surpassed Google China and became the second profitable Chinese search company; it achieved revenue of $63 million, a year-on-year increase of 238%. In 2019, Sogou search succeeded in taking away 11.35 percent of the market share from Baidu by virtue of differentiation, ranking second in the industry.
But even so, Sogou Search has never been able to shake Baidu’s position in the search engine field.
Baidu Search is known as the cornerstone of Baidu, and more than 60% of its revenue comes from this. Baidu’s financial report for the third quarter of 2020 shows that online advertising revenue is 18.4 billion yuan, and the number of monthly active users of SmartProgram has reached 355 million.
During the same period, Sogou’s search results were much bleak. According to Sogou’s third-quarter financial report, Sogou’s total revenue was US$216.7 million, a year-on-year decrease of 31.2%, and a loss of US$42 million. Among them, search and search-related business revenue was 192.5 million US dollars, a year-on-year decrease of 33.2%.
On the evening of July 27, Sogou announced that it had received Tencent’s privatization offer, and Tencent was preparing to acquire other shares of Sogou at a price of $9 per share.
According to industry insiders, the acquisition of Sogou is the most important move taken by Tencent in the search engine and even AI field. At the same time, it also means that Baidu’s dominant search engine market is slowly disintegrating.
Search engines usher in a new battle
After being acquired by Tencent, Sogou Search and Tiger Eyes’ byte beating made Baidu feel dangerous.
In August 2019, Baidu announced that it had formed two major traffic engines “search + information flow” and two ecological layouts “Baijiahao + SmartProgram”.
From Baidu’s perspective, dual engines and dual ecology are the upgrade and evolution of Baidu’s core business. From the perspective of ByteDance, it is clear that he has entered his own position.
Although Baidu was a few years late in its information flow, the explosive momentum was surprising. Baidu’s search traffic growth rate exceeded 30%. Due to the increase in search traffic, some searches were charged accordingly, so the profit growth in search was about 100% year-on-year.
Baidu’s ability to catch up is largely due to its technical advantages such as big data and intelligent algorithms.
However, Baidu is an independent network-wide search and has no ownership of the content. The data comes from crawler technology. Whether it is pushed depends on the amount of business advertisements and the frequency of keyword retrieval. ByteDance mainly grabs content and information within its own ecology to achieve a faster and more accurate connection between users and information.
According to Toutiao, there are three key points to search well: technology, content and original intention. Technology determines the search experience. Content is the foundation of search, including two dimensions, one is rich, the content ecology is large enough; the other is high quality, the content quality is high enough. The original intention determines whether the product can go in the long run.
On the other hand, the total daily active life of ByteDance’s products exceeds 700 million, the global monthly active exceeds 1.5 billion, while the Baidu App has only 190 million daily active users, and Baidu’s products have only 1.1 billion monthly active users. Obviously, the product matrix built by ByteDance has more traffic advantages, which is also the most valued by advertisers. Advertisers must hope that more people will see the advertisements, and the technological gap is not so important.
Compared with Baidu, which pays attention to content-based byte beating and searches the entire network, Tencent’s ambitions are significantly greater. The above-mentioned industry insiders stated that after the acquisition of Sogou, Tencent will strive to achieve the integration of all isolated content in WeChat. This includes not only Tencent’s own content system, but also WeChat official account articles, Tencent News, and even its investment Zhihu , Xiaohongshu, Kuaishou and other content providers.
For ByteDance, search is a market of hundreds of billions, and search business may become the incremental business of ByteDance in the future. For Baidu, search business is its foundation and cannot be handed over.
Under the trilateral competition, a mobile search engine battle has begun.