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China’s Baidu Ploughs ‘Millions’ Into Taboola
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China’s Baidu Ploughs ‘Millions’ Into Taboola

Content recommendation platform Taboola has today announced a “multi-million dollar” investment from Chinese search engine Baidu.

The NYC-based platform, a rival to fellow content recommender Outbrain, hands users the option of exploring articles “Around the web” after they’ve sifted through a similar story. 

A marketplace set up by the firm allows brands and publishers to bid on where their content appears, which is linked to sites including MailOnline, The Atlantic and The Weather Channel.

Though active in markets including the UK, US, France Germany, Italy, India and Japan, Taboola is not currently live in China. That could be about to change in a big way following the passing of an undisclosed investment from Baidu, the country’s most popular search engine.

Baidu lends a hand

Estimates from eMarketer point to Chinese search ad revenue reaching $14.90 billion this year, but the country’s ban on Google means that none of this is going to the US firm.

Thus, Baidu has been allowed to power ahead without so much of a hint of competition. Its search engine is the number-one visited site in China for a connected population of 641 million, making it the fifth most-visited site globally.   

Taboola’s Chinese expansion is set to be aided by Baidu’s reach as it looks to make 2015 a year to remember.

Things had already progressed at a rapid pace following news of a $117 million series E funding round in February, bringing the firm’s total investor cash up to $157 million.

Adding to the company’s profile was a $1 billion valuation off the back of revenue growing to $200 million per year. Stats from Taboola indicate the distribution of 200 billion content recommendations per month, putting it above Outbrain on 190 billion.  

Looking ahead 

Plans in the aftermath of the deal remain scarce, but comments made by Taboola CEO Adam Singolda hinted at the need for guidance and a careful introduction in reaching out to China.

Talking to Business Insider, he said: "We are going to spend the next few months looking at how the partnership will work. It is in very early stages but we are excited to partner ... we are going to learn together with them ... every local market has its own ingredients — even the UK."

Part of the focus will be in bringing Taboola’s content recommendations out to users of Baidu, which holds a 75% share in China’s mobile and desktop search market. 

Like its new investor, Taboola will also benefit from a limited amount of competition as Outbrain continues to eschew the market.

Richard Towey

Richard Towey

Richard serves as head of content at PerformanceIN. After many years spent covering developments from the automotive, sports, travel and finance sectors, he eventually turned his full attention to reporting on stories from the fast-evolving world of digital marketing. Richard now heads up the editorial team at PerformanceIN: the performance marketing industry's leading publication.  

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