Google and Yahoo might be staple search engines in the West, but for consumers in markets like Japan and China there are a plethora of other options.
Marketers should consider the many local search engines and search methods evolving across Asia when developing their marketing strategies in this fragmented region.
Today I'd like to look at two markets in particular, Japan and China.
The Japanese Search Market
In Japan for example, whenever the Japanese market is discussed, people often focus on Yahoo Japan and Google Japan.
To learn more about search in Japan using Google Japan and Yahoo Japan, see my previous column here.
Some businesses may only target Yahoo Japan. And while it is a fact that a majority of searches done in Japan happen on Yahoo Japan or Google Japan, there are other players, less known outside of Japan, which can be just as effective for a targeted strategy.
You may be surprised to hear some of these names, but they seem to have found a niche and are doing well in Japan unlike their counterparts in other countries.
Here is a list of notable search engines and related sites in Japan that can be leveraged to get you extra reach and opportunities for this market.
While not many people may go to Bing.com’s Japanese site to search, MSN’s Japanese site is popular as a portal site.
It’s worth the effort to test an ad campaign here if you are looking for another place to drive traffic and create awareness.
Their messenger and email services (Hotmail/Outlook) are widely used by Japanese.
Baidu Japan just discontinued its search services in Japan in March and currently offers several digital marketing and search marketing services for companies targeting the Chinese market.
They also provide Simeji, which (Read more...) a mobile keyboard for Japanese language and other characters including “Kao-moji” and “Ascii art”.
Excite, Inc. entered the Japanese market in 1997. In 2002, Itochu became a majority shareholder (90 percent) and Excite Japan became a separate company from Excite, Inc. and Home Corporation.
Excite Japan has a strong user base as a portal site offering a variety of products including shopping, news, dictionary, blog, and web-magazines. It also offers broadband Internet services and its text ads in search results are supported by Yahoo Japan.
It offers banner ads and native ad services.
Goo was established in 1997 as Japan’s first original search engine. While it gave up its own search engine capabilities and eventually switched over to an engine powered by Google Japan, the site is still popular with a variety of products.
The most successful product is “Oshiete Goo” – a Q&A service – which has more than 7 million answered questions.
It also displays ads from Google Japan’s AdWords and Xlisting in its search result pages.
Infoseek Japan was established in 1998 using the Inktomi search engine. Rakuten acquired it in 2000, and it adopted Google Japan as its search engine in 2010.
Currently, Infoseek functions as a portal site offering a variety of products. The services backed by Rakuten include shopping, travel booking, auction, mobile, and finance. (Rakuten also acquired Lycos.)
Naver is owned by Korea’s NHN Corporation. It first entered the Japanese market by offering search engine services. But these never took off in Japan. In 2013, it discontinued the search engine services for the second time.
Naver now offers two products, Naver Matome – a website and video curation site, and LINE – a social networking site. Both are extremely popular not only in Japan, but throughout Asia, including a big market for LINE in Thailand, which is extending its reach globally.
The China Market
According to an iResearch global report into market share of search engines operating in China, Baidu makes up 81.6 percent of market share by revenue followed by Google at 10.3 percent, Sogou 4.3 percent and Qihoo 360 at 2.8 percent.
Haosou is Qihoo 360’s new search brand launched in January 2015. While their PC search market share is still small, this new search site seems to offer better mobile search experiences.
Shen Ma Search
Speaking of mobile search, Shen Ma (Also known as SM.cn) is the second largest mobile search engine in the Chinese market. SM.cn is a joint venture between Alibaba and UCWeb.
Being owned by a Chinese mobile Internet software technology and services provider means it will very likely take a larger share of the mobile search market in the near future.
Alibaba's online retail site Taobao is similar to Amazon and eBay, with a website in both Chinese and English.
Although Taobao is not a search engine as such, for those in the B2C business, this is definitely a site worth checking out.
Global Sources was launched in 1996 as a B2B website, and is now a mega information source by volume of buyers. It offers integrated marketing services to suppliers and also verifies the quality of each manufacturer. It also holds several trade shows across Asia – mainly in Hong Kong and China.
But for those interested in growing their businesses in Asia beyond traditional search markets, this is a good place to start.
Though these sites may not be popular as search engines, they do offer unique opportunities for advertisers especially those wanting to target specific audiences.
Instead of just chasing the usual suspects in search, trying different directions may give your business the push it needs to succeed in these markets in 2015.
*Image via Shutterstock
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