20-F
BAIDU, INC. filed this Form 20-F on 03/31/2017
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protection programs. Such measures have had a negative impact on the number of customers and our revenues in the short term. PRC regulations on online marketing services are evolving, and uncertainties remain with respect to the implementation of and compliance with new regulations that may emerge, which in turn may have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and growth prospects.

If online marketing does not further grow in China, our ability to increase revenue and profitability could be materially and adversely affected.

While the internet has developed to a more advanced stage in China, customers have many channels to do online marketing and promotion. As users may not spend as much time on internet search products as they used to, many current and potential customers may not use internet search products as their one of the main online marketing channels to promote their products and services, and thus may not allocate a significant portion of their marketing budgets to online marketing through internet search products such as our P4P services, as compared to other methods of online marketing. Our ability to increase revenue and profitability from online marketing on PC and mobile internet may be adversely impacted by a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

 

   

difficulties associated with developing a larger user base with demographic characteristics attractive to online marketing customers and maintaining and increasing user engagement;

 

   

increased competition and potential re-allocation of marketing budgets and downward pressure on online marketing prices;

 

   

higher customer acquisition costs due in part to the limited experience of small to medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, with the internet as a marketing channel or due to competition;

 

   

ineffectiveness of our online marketing delivery, tracking and reporting systems; and

 

   

decreased use of internet or online marketing in China.

Our business depends on a strong brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our business and results of operations may be harmed.

We believe that our brand “Baidu” has contributed significantly to the success of our business. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing the “Baidu” brand is critical to increasing the number of our users, customers, Baidu Union members and content providers. We have conducted various marketing and brand promotion activities, but we cannot assure you that these activities will achieve the brand promotion effect expected by us. If we fail to maintain and further promote the “Baidu” brand, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

In addition, any negative publicity about our company, our products and services, our employees, our business practices, or our search results or the platform to which our search results link, regardless of its veracity, could harm our brand image and in turn adversely affect our business and results of operations. We cannot assure you that we will be able to defuse negative publicity to the satisfaction of our investors, users, customers and business partners. From time to time, there have been negative publicities about our company and our business practice, which adversely affected our public image and reputation during the period of certain intense negative publicities. For example, in 2016, Chinese media reported that a Chinese college student had died from cancer following unsuccessful treatment received at a hospital that the student had found through a paid search listing on Baidu. The negative publicity surrounding this incident has resulted in significant adverse impact on our public image and reputation. Intense negative publicities may divert our management’s attention and may adversely impact our business. We cannot assure you that our brand, public image and reputation will not be materially and adversely affected in the future.

 

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