(Bloomberg)—Baidu Inc., China’s largest search engine, has struck a deal to funnel users looking for products to online retailer JD.com Inc.
Under the arrangement, users browsing for product information on Baidu’s mobile search app can now access a dedicated section to buy items directly from JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce provider. By encouraging users to stay within its app and make purchases, the search giant can glean valuable data on its customers’ preferences.
The deal comes as technology companies compete to turn information gathered on users into sales. That data helps build systems providing everything from personalized ads and product suggestions to news feeds that stream videos and articles based on individual tastes.
“Baidu can use its advantages in information to help JD greatly shorten the time between spotting an item to actual purchase,”’ Baidu said in a statement. “This improves efficiency, reduces marketing costs but also enhances the shopping experience.”
It wasn’t clear how many of the million-plus items listed on JD’s site will be immediately available. But in the longer term, a deal with JD—second only to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in China e-commerce—could help Baidu get ad revenue growth back on track. Baidu has said its personalized news app is expected to generate a material amount of advertising revenue starting this year. Over 100 million people accessed that service at least once a day as of late July.
JD is No.1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 China 500. Alibaba operates Taobao and Tmall, the dominant web marketplaces in China, but it is not ranked because it is not the merchant of record.
JD in turn is trying to ramp up sales and the advertising dollars it gets from merchants and brands. It has a similar arrangement with news aggregation provider Jinri Toutiao, and last month signed a data-sharing deal with marketing tracker Nielsen Holdings Plc. to help advertisers track the internet browsing of shoppers.
The company is projected to report 37% growth in the June quarter when it reports earnings Monday.