Baidu to use cloud computing, AI to improve behavioural analysis

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 May, 2017, 3:32pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 May, 2017, 10:36pm

Chinese internet giant Baidu says it plans to leverage advanced cloud computing to analyse the online data of millions of its users to help companies improve their marketing campaigns.

The Chinese search engine giant, which has real-time search data on more than 700 million internet users, is able to analyse individual users through its cloud arm’s artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing technologies, Yin Shiming, vice-president and general manager of Baidu Cloud Computing, said in Shenzhen.

“AI is bringing in new ways of thinking for many traditional industries,” said Yin, who cited the recent battle between Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo computer program and Chinese Go master Ke Jie as supporting his view that the development of AI technology has stepped up.

“Our Marketing Cloud, backed by Baidu Cloud’s data and technology, is not just saving resources and costs, but making marketing easier,” Yin said.

Despite challenges from other local search brands such as Sogou and Qihoo 360, Baidu’s dominance in online search has hardly swayed over the years, accounting for about 75 per cent of the search market.

Baidu’s mobile app is ranked as the seventh most popular in China, with 244.3 million active mobile users as of the end of March, according to Beijing-based research agency Analysys.

“Currently over 70 per cent of newly emerged marketing strategies are AI-driven ones,” according to Tang Jin, a deputy general manager of Baidu Cloud Computing. “But tonnes of data on the internet is ignored without being interpreted properly. To achieve precise marketing for commercial institutions, we need to understand user behaviour on the internet first,” said Tang.

The scale of the cloud computing industry in the mainland is forecast to grow to 430 billion yuan (US$62.75 million) in 2019 from 150 billion yuan in 2015, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Baidu launched its AI platform for commercial users in Beijing in November. The system is powered by cloud computing technologies that include perception, machine learning and deep learning. More than 30,000 enterprises from various sectors are reportedly employing Baidu’s cloud services.

The company is actively pushing for a transition from the traditional search-engine business to an AI-led company to broaden its revenue channels after reported 10.6 per cent drop in net profit during the first quarter ended March 31.

Baidu aims to intensify efforts in applying AI technology to improve existing products and accelerate the development of AI-enabled new businesses for higher revenue growth in the coming quarters, vice president Lu Qi said after the quarterly results in late April.

Baidu in January appointed Lu, a leading AI expert and former Microsoft Corp executive, as its chief operating officer in a bid to bolster its efforts in AI.