ByteDance, a Beijing-based multimedia business, has launched a new search engine in China. ByteDance is also expanding into workplace messaging and streaming music.
The company confirmed that it’s not only hiring new staff to help create and manage the new search engine, but that the company has recently hired former Google, Baidu, and Bing employees.
Toutiao Search, which is the official name of ByteDance’s new search platform, will censor search results consistent with Chinese government expectations and laws. The Chinese government censors historical events related to their government’s oppression of citizens, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations that resulted in one of the world’s most chilling images.
To date, Baidu remains China’s largest search engine presence. But Toutiao Search—backed by ByteDance (whose 2018 valuation topped $78 billion)—is expected to make waves in China’s search market. The new search engine will leverage content from ByteDance-owned apps, including the popular TikTok video app.
In 2010, Google pulled out of China’s search market due to disagreements regarding censorship. This left the space open for Baidu to absorb almost the entire Chinese search market. Baidu’s share of the search results market sits at over 60%, with mobile-specific search market results sitting at over 70%.
“We have estimated that there are about two new players emerging in the search engine market each year,” Ping Xiaoli, general manager of Baidu App, stated at a press conference.
For search marketers, the news hardly moves the needle, as all platforms within the country remain stringently monitored by the Chinese government. Marketers outside China may begin to notice a trickle of traffic from Toutiao Search as it enters the search field.
But it’s difficult to deny the new search engine’s traffic potential among the enormous online population inside China. China’s most recent population survey stands at 1.43 billion. In 2018, it was estimated that China has more than 800 million internet users, 98% of which are mobile users. Such mindblowing statistics demonstrate China’s efficiency in building out mobile networks across the country.
In China, mobile is king. Optimizing your website for mobile is imperative if you hope to compete in the world’s largest online market.
If your curious about ByteDance’s history, check out the following video by Steven Van Belleghem.