Google takes ad service to China

Seeking to tap a thriving Internet business in China, the search company will offer its advertising-bidding system in the country's native language.

Seeking to tap a thriving Internet business in China, Google will offer its advertising-bidding system in the country's native language.

On Wednesday, the search company will open its advertising service, called AdWords, in two dialects of Chinese: simplified and traditional. AdWords lets advertisers bid for ad placement on pages linked to keyword queries; the ads automatically appear within Google results. While the company has drawn some Chinese advertisers, it believes that this will open doors to new customers.

"We want to make sure advertisers are able to reach out to customers in the Chinese writing system that's more comfortable," said Adam Freed, Google's director of international online sales and operations.

Search-advertising sales show potential in China.

Sohu.com, the top portal in China, reported last week advertising revenue in the fourth quarter of $9.5 million, a 120 percent rise from the same period in 2002. The company derives ad revenue partly from sponsored search listings, which are Google's specialty. Improving sales are thanks to recognition among advertisers that the Internet is "a mainstream media and entertainment platform in China," said Sohu CEO Charles Zhang. The company also reported net income of $11.6 million.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., is on a tear when it comes to international expansion, both in setting up Web search sites in foreign languages and selling related advertising overseas. It operates sites in nearly 100 foreign languages. It also supports its 150,000 advertisers in 16 languages, now including Chinese.

In addition, Google accepts the national currency of Hong Kong and Singapore, in addition to 11 other currencies.

Overture Services, Google's chief rival in the United States, does not offer ad support in China yet. But it operates in Japan and Korea, along with nine other European countries. It also allows advertisers to pay for sponsored listings in yen and won.

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