So what is this search department and what could it mean for Baidu?
Through this new department, WeChat will be making an all-out effort to develop search related services including in-app and outbound link search, content recommendation, AI development and application, data mining and analysis, and so on.
- A 2017 mobile usage report from comScore showed that in China, 71% of all digital minutes spent were on a mobile device. With that in mind, while Baidu will continue to be the superior in PC-based searching, mobile will be a different matter.
- If WeChat is able to optimise user experience for its search service, they will undoubtedly replace Baidu’s search engine in the mobile search market.
What should we expect from WeChat?
Although WeChat (or rather Tencent — the company behind the mobile chat service) only just announced the launch of their new mobile search department, the idea behind this is not completely new.
- WeChat had already started to build this plan two years ago when it launched its off-site search feature, allowing users to search articles that would then be redirected to a number of other sites: Zhihu, Sohu and FTChinese.com to name a few.
- Last month, Tencent also launched a search feature called “WeChat Index” (essentially Google Trends) on its messaging app WeChat, allowing users to track the search/browsing behaviour of the last 7 days, 30 days and 90 days of a particular product or brand. With WeChat acquiring an overwhelming amount of user data on a day-to-day basis, they are able to leverage this to effectively push out their “WeChat Index” service.
- According to Tencent’s financial statements, WeChat’s monthly active user numbers have reached over 889 million in 2016, with half of the users spending around 90 minutes on the app everyday.
Although it is still too early to predict exactly what will happen, Luxion Media will be keeping a keen eye on developments, and we will update you as they progress!
If you enjoyed reading this and would like to read more social media related content, feel free to take a look at our Social Media Case Study Library!