Microsoft expands search engine in China

Microsoft is looking outside of the US to expand its share of search engine marketing revenues and the use of its Bing search technology. China is the top choice for the software giant. According to PC World, Microsoft has aligned with Taobao.com, the biggest online retailer in China, to power web search results for new online property Etaosite. Termed a “shopping search engine” by Taobao, Etao offers many search categories beyond commerce including web results that will now be powered by Bing.

“This is a small part of our long term strategy,” commented a Microsoft spokeswoman. “We are focused on local innovation, local partnerships.”
The Associated Press reports that the launch of the beta version of Etao reflects the competition among tech competitors to fill the void left by Google when it closed its China search site in March this year. While regional search provider Baidu dominates the Chinese search market, Google was the second most popular engine in the Chinese-language search market – which has, according to China Tech News, seen a 45% year-on-year increase over the first half of 2010.

According to Reuters, under the agreement Bing will also provide PPC ads for Etao. “Advertising to people who have come already to buy something is a very attractive proposition”, said Mark Natkin of Marbridge Consulting in the Reuters report. “It has the potential to pull a very valuable segment of users, by intention, from Baidu.” Currently Bing has a small, 2.4% share in the Chinese market – but as the engine is currently still in beta form in China, the company may yet make its mark in the region. Last month Microsoft told the Wall Street Journal that it was seeking a partner in the region to better develop its interests and services there. Since then it has entered into the Etao arrangement, an ad-selling arrangement with Baidu and one-year strategic partnership with Winhi.net, a web-hosting and commerce firm in Guangdong.

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