Thursday, July 22

SIGIR Industry Day: Baidu on Future Search

Future Search: From Information Retrieval to Information Enabled Commerce
William Chang, Baidu

Two commerce revolutions
- 1995 the first web search engines (ebay, amazon, etc...)
- China miracle

Early History of IEC
- Early shippers: created corporations, but more important there is a futures market
- Commerce: coming together to trade: trading goods and information
- Local: Yellow pages created in 1886
- Local classified ads in papers
- Mail order: Sears catalogue in 1888 for farming supplies (enabled by efficient postal service)
- Credit cards: consumer production and data mining
- Development of "advertising science": print, radio, tv

I.E.C in our Daily Lives
- Restaurant menus
- Zagat, Michelin
- Shopping guides, supermarket aisles

Technology and Internet
- Walmart: real-time transaction tracking and inventory management; scale and speed
- Amazon: user generated reviews and recommendations, common business platform
- eBay
- Craigslist

Search Engines
- Y! Directory
- Lycos Crawler, Altavista big index, Excite HotBot
- Infoseek (1996-1999) where he worked
- OR queries
- Phrase inference and query rewriting
- Banner ads tied to search keywords
- real-time addurl
- anti-spam (adversarial IR)
- hyperlink voting and anchor text indexing
- log analysis and query suggestion
- Goto.com / Overture paid placement
- Google ad platform: AdWord, AdSense

Search as Media

Working 'defintion of a media company (1997)
A media company's business is to help other businesses build brands, and a brand is the total loyalty of the company's customers. A "new media company" does this by leveraging the interactive nature of the Internet to enable users to communicate with one another..."
China Economics

China Background
- reality: only 15% of Internet users earn 5000/year
- inflation at 5% spurts of hyper-inflation
- education and personal aspiration: virtually no illiteracy, but there is a problem with brain drain (about a million of the best and brightest left and never came back)
- competition is fierce in school and in work
- gender equality: one child policy
- entrepreneurial spirit

The Economy
- GDP is growing 10% annually
- Despite a tradition of honoring "old brands" there are few new domestic brands and little marketing know-how
- Domestic commerice is still nascent, lacking IEC tools (no yellow pages or directories that work)

The Prize
- Highly developed Internet in user and usage count: 420 million users, 85% broadband, the average spends 20/week on the internet
- Sitra (sp?) the expedia of China
- Micropayments are made via phone bills: even children use it to buy games online

The Money
- Half the Internet population is under 25
- Tencent QQ is an IM used by everyone, virtual currency, with real economics
- Online games: Shanda, Giant etc:
- Taobao/Alibaba already 1% of GDP, dominates B2C goods
- Baidu web search dominates B2C services (health, education... help on cramming)
- China mobile: everyone uses it, and for almost everything
- Ctrip: integration of online, mobile, offline services

Baidu
- Aladdain: Open Search Platform (allows webmasters to submit query and content pairs)
-- rich results that form an application

- iKnow (2005) an open Q&A platform: the largest in the world
-- has many partner websites, all with a Q&A panel on their website

- Ark: Open product database

- Map++ (embed yellow page like information on a map)

Baidu Aladdin:
Travel
- On the result page, there is a full panel with airline reservation
Housingr, Shopping

A few more ideas:
- The average chinese worker spends 2-3 hours per day on public transportation. They spend the time playing games or reading "new literature". This is an opportunity for mobile shopping recommendation
- Shopping malls are almost impossible to navigate. There are no directories or ways to find things

Conclusions
- Depends critically on information quality and security: spam
- Users demand quality, but there are still not solid reliable brands
- There are new novel business models to explore: a trillion dollar opportunity

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