Baidu Begins Integrating AR Into Search And Exploring AR Marketing

What Happened
Baidu, typically regarded as “China’s Google,” has launched an AR lab to develop and deploy AR services in a variety of areas. Baidu has been actively experimenting with augmented reality for two years and has shipped some basic AR-powered features with its Baidu search and map apps. Baidu is also reportedly working with a number of big-name brands including L’Oreal, KFC, and Lancôme for AR ads that allow Chinese consumers to interact with virtual products on their mobile devices. Besides Baidu, Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba have both came out with scavenger hunt-like games that hide AR coupons around real-world locations for consumers to discover.

What Brands Need To Do
Pokémon Go introduced U.S. consumers to mobile AR technology last summer, but brands are only starting to explore the possibilities that AR marketing brings. At this year’s CES, we saw brands like BMW and Gap showcased AR apps made for product demos. New York Times created an AR game for 20th Century Fox to promote movie Hidden Figures. Baidu’s AR initiatives point to many ways that brands can experiment with AR technologies and deliver an interesting customer experience.

If you’d like to get some help to figure out how augmented reality can enhance your customer experience and drive new opportunities for your brand, or simply to try out the HoloLens demo we have to experience the transformative power of AR, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Forbes

Baidu Launches A Medical Chatbot That Acts As A Physician’s Assistant

What Happened
Baidu, typically referred to as China’s Google, launched a medical chatbot that aims to speed up the diagnosing process and help doctors collect patient information. The bot, named Melody, lives in the Baidu Doctor app, which launched in China in 2015 and aims to connect patients to local doctors for inquiries and booking appointments. Melody, only available in China right now, is powered by Baidu’s deep learning and natural language processing systems. It prompts users with generic questions, such as asking for the demographic info of the patient, what medications they are on, and how long a symptom has lasted, in order to gather sufficient information to pass to doctors for diagnosis.

What Brands Should Do
While Melody does not present any marketing opportunity for brands, it is still notable as a rare use case of chatbots in the healthcare field. This chatbot is also notable for its limited capability as Baidu stresses that Melody is not supposed to replace human doctors, but instead acts as a physician’s assistant and does prep work for them. This mirrors the Lab’s take on branded chatbots: they are great for handling basic customer service and other single-focus tasks such as gathering information and feedback. With more and more smartphone users opting to communicate via messaging apps, it is time for brands to consider developing chatbots in order to modernize their customer experience.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about building chatbots. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: The Verge


Baidu Introduces Virtual Assistant Service “Duer”

What Happened
Earlier this week, Chinese search giant Baidu unveiled its first virtual assistant service at its Baidu World conference in Beijing. The new Siri-like digital assistant called “Duer” is built into the Baidu Android search app installed on millions of smartphones in China, and will be equipped with voice search capable of ordering food and hailing a taxi at user’s command. The virtual assistant will also be integrated into Baidu’s other apps including Maps and Nuomi, a Groupon-like local discovery platform.

What Brands Should Do
Baidu has a strong hold on the Chinese market, and brands seeking to enter the world’s second-largest consumer market would be wise to get on board with this new service the same way they should with Facebook M. As these digital assistant services continue to gain more business-friendly features, brands should start using them to connect consumers with brands in a natural, conversational context.


Source: The Guardian


Global Watch: Uber Nears 1 Million Daily Rides In China

According to a leaked email from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber is seeing tremendous growth in the Chinese market, logging in 1 million daily rides, which is as many as Uber has in all of its global markets combined. Encouraged by the promising prospects, Kalanick revealed the company intends to raise $1 billion specifically for Uber’s expansion in China.

While the numbers may seem impressive as a standalone, they pale in comparison to Uber’s competitors in China. Kuaidi and Didi, two most popular cab-hailing apps in China backed respectively by domestic giants Alibaba and Tencent, both report that they each book up to 6 million rides a day. And a surprise merger of the two announced back in February created Kuaidi-Didi, a mammoth that now cover over 95% of the market share.

For now, Uber only operates in 11 cities in China, and its recent fast growth is likely due to its newfound alliance with Baidu, who, interestingly, is looking to launch a driverless car later this year. In the face of the formidable Kuaidi-Didi and other obstacles such as crackdowns from local authorities, Uber sure has an uphill battle to fight if it were to win over the Chinese market.

Update 06/15/2015: Right on the heels of UberChina’s $1 billion fundraising plan, Didi Kuaidi counteracts by seeking $1.5 billion in new funding round.