Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ebay Fight Alibaba With Baidu Watching

An interesting article found on a bulletin board:

I've heard that Ebay/Eachnet is fighting hard with Alibaba/Yahoo in China and it looks like Jerry Yang may have stumpled once again in China.

For curiosity, I tried during last week to find out how Ebay and Alibaba are fighting on the marketing front by Baidu Yixia(Baidu Yixia means to Baidu, a term has gained popularity in China for search on Baidu, similar to "google it").

I took an article "mooncake eats 10 billion"as source of words. The article basically talks about how much mooncakes were eaten during the Moon Festival (or Mid-Autum Festival). In total, Chinese had consumed 200,000 tons of mooncakes and it costs 10 billion Yuan(about $1.2 billion dollars).

When I picked some words from the article, such as moon festival, or mooncake to search on Baidu, there were two kinds of links appeared on the right side of search results. The several listed on top are mostly mooncakes sellers. There are also several one-line links at lower position or "lower ranking" in industry jargon.

Those links attracted my attention. Not because Ebay was on top, or Alibaba was on bottom, but Dell computer was there too. When I click on that link, there is no mooncake on sale from Dell. Really disappointed :).

I got the strange idea. Why not try some random words for fun? I decided to cut the whole article, 325 characters in full into four characters each. The near random combination of four characters looks quite funny. Nearly three quarters of them make no sense or looking silly.

What surprised me is to see whatever you searched, there are always some list of links, 4 or 5 each time. Ebay/Each is always come on top, and followed by some non-popular names, and follwed by Dell, also Alibaba is always listed on the bottom. Before I finished all the 81 combinations, I gave it up since everytime for some 40-50 times, I got the same results. Ebay on top, Alibaba on the bottom.

I was wondering how many keywords Ebay and Alibaba are spending on their marketing fight. If Ebay comes up on top every time, how much they have to spend in China? What I couldn't understand is that some of the combinations of characters are just hard to figure out before Ebay and Alibaba could buy them.

With this questions in mind, I called my friend who used to work at Eachnet but has jumped ship after Ebay bought Eachnet. He told me it is quite simple. Ebay and Alibaba probably just bought those links with dirty cheap prices since nobody else are bidding on them. In that way, whatever words are searched, their links are always there even it dose not make any sense. And he told me it is quite effective. Another thing he said is that Alibaba is smart to be listed on the bottom because they found out the bottom one got clicked more often than the second one and the bottom one pays the lest to Baidu.

Still questioned about the effectiveness of using those random search results, I remembered seeing this article talking about that if you search the word "failure" on Google, it will pointed to president Bush(US is definitely a free country). I wonder who Baidu is going to point at, they won't dare to point at Hu Jingtao, I guess :).

Nothing surprised me from the results though. What surprised me is that Ebay is again on top of the list of links which saying "Buy failure product on Ebay". I said to myself: this is total nonsense! who's on Ebay's mind would come to buy failure product?

So I click on it to take a look, Now I understand what my friend told me.

By Baigu

Footnote: Baigu means hundreds of guesses, it must be a penname.


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