Founder and managing director of paid search marketing agency, Net Media Planet, Sri Sharma, shares his thoughts on forging ties with Chinese language internet search giant, Baidu.

Sharma said while the performance marketing model exists in China, the industry is not as evolved as in the UK or US.

By striking a new partnership with the Chinese-based performance marketing agency CharmClick (the exclusive UK/Ireland Baidu service provider to Baidu), Sharma said this now gives Net Media Planet the opportunity to strengthen links with the Asian nation.

Sharma stressed the scale of the opportunity for UK brands to make the most of Baidu, particularly as China’s online consumer population is still growing fast.

Q: How would you describe Baidu and its current presence in China and in the UK?

A: Baidu is the number one search engine in China, with 83% of the search engine market share. It is often referred to as China’s Google, and caters for an online population of over 540 million – which to put in context is larger than the population of Europe.

In China there is a love for British products and services ranging from fashion and football clubs, to baby products and university education. A key reason is that confidence in domestic product quality is declining with 28% of Chinese consumers stating that they will buy foreign products and imported consumer goods up 25% in 2012.

However, current awareness of Baidu in the UK is quite low because they have not advertised outside of China. In addition, there has historically been a real barrier to advertising on Baidu. Firstly, it is complicated to set up and get approval to advertise on Baidu, secondly the interface is in Chinese, and thirdly you need to understand the fast changing local Chinese customer.

Through our Baidu relationship we are building his awareness in the UK.

Q: How, why and when is Net Media Planet linking up with Baidu?

A: We are working in partnership with the Chinese-based advertising agency, CharmClick.

We have created this opportunity to enable British brands the opportunity to expand into the massive and growing Chinese consumer market. As a true global specialist in search and display, Net Media Planet is able to provide British brands with a localised search and display advertising strategy to grow market share and drive performance – whether purely online or to support offline stores or resellers

We launched the opportunity for British brands in March 2013. We are currently working together with a number of brands to help launch their presence on Baidu.

Q: What do you expect and hope will happen through this partnership?

A: Until now there has been a huge barrier to get into the Chinese market. We have tried to become the conduit to enable British brands to grow their businesses in China. My hope is that we can help bold British brands to be able to grow successful global businesses.

Q: What growth opportunity does Baidu present to those within the UK performance marketing industry?

A: Given the scale of the Chinese market and Baidu’s market share this is a huge growth opportunity. That said if a brand is unknown in China it will require a startup attitude to initially growing market share.