Staff Reporters
Aug 23, 2023

Baidu posts positive quarterly growth, thanks to ads and generative AI business

Baidu's generative AI tool, Ernie Bot, has seen success as Open AI's ChatGPT is not available in the country.

Baidu posts positive quarterly growth, thanks to ads and generative AI business

Baidu has surpassed expectations for its second-quarter revenue.

The surge is attributed to a revival in advertising expenditure in the post-pandemic era, coupled with an intensified focus on generative artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives. 

As the digital advertising landscape in China reaps the benefits of economic recovery after pandemic restrictions, Baidu finds itself at the forefront of the resurgence.  

The company, heavily reliant on online ads for revenue, reported a revenue of 34.06 billion yuan ($4.67 billion) for the quarter ending June 30, outperforming analysts' average estimate of 33.28 billion yuan according to Refinitiv data. 

Notably, the robust quarterly performance can be attributed to a 15% rise in online marketing revenue during the second quarter. Baidu's strategic foray into generative AI is proving to be a game-changer, with the company embedding its Ernie AI model across its products, including the search engine.

Baidu's significant shift toward AI technology, further evidenced by the company's investment in autonomous driving and large language models (LLM), echoes the AI-led innovations seen transforming so many industries. 

Robin Li, Baidu's co-founder and CEO, highlighted that the company's investments in AI have been instrumental in its evolving success trajectory.  

"Baidu accelerated revenue and profit growth, driven by the solid performance of online marketing business and operating leverage. Generative AI and large language models hold immense transformative power in numerous industries, presenting a significant market opportunity for us,” said Li. 

“By adopting an AI-native mindset, we are reinventing our products and offerings for innovative experiences, and to support various enterprises to capture this opportunity.” 

Despite the favorable financial results, Baidu continues to navigate regulatory challenges. The company is still awaiting approval from Chinese regulators for the wide-scale rollout of its Ernie bot, akin to OpenAI's ChatGPT, which remains limited to invite-only testing.  

The evolving regulatory landscape around generative AI in China is gaining clarity, with the government issuing measures to manage the sector, albeit in a pro-innovation stance. 

In the face of continued competition from tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba, Baidu's performance in Q2 has strengthened its position in the market.  

Tencent reported an 11% increase in revenue to $20.6 billion, while Alibaba's revenue surged by 14% to $32.3 billion. Baidu's strategic pivot towards AI and its successful advertising rebound are solidifying  its presence in the digital advertising space. 

Source:
Campaign Asia

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