China’s search engine giant had an upbeat earning report with the company exceeding first-quarter revenue and profit estimates – a sign that businesses are spending more on advertising following China’s post-COVID reopening.
The company saw its revenue grow 10% to 31.14 billion yuan ($4.54 billion) in the quarter ending March 31, beating analysts’ estimates of 29.97 billion yuan, according to Refinitiv data.
According to Baidu CEO Robin Li, the rapid economic recovery helped the company’s advertisers in offline sectors such as travel and healthcare.
“Some of these verticals have already rebounded to above pre-pandemic levels, indicating solid signs of recovery,” Li said in a call with investors.
“Our own initiatives aimed at improving the product experience such as incorporating short videos and product listing information within the Baidu App also played a significant role in the revenue increase.”
Baidu’s upbeat earnings report comes as China’s economy also grew faster than expected at 4.5% year-on-year in Q1, according to the latest official data, reports Reuters.
The Ernie Bot
Li added that the company was waiting for approval from the government before launching its ChatGPT-like Ernie bot
“Baidu is rapidly integrating Ernie Bot into all of our businesses for testing,” said Li on the earnings call.
“The goal is to leverage its capabilities to enhance, rebuild, and create both our enterprise and consumer-facing products and services, thereby revolutionizing [Inaudible] We are also working on building an ecosystem around Ernie Bot to promote the adoption of generative AI in a wider range of use cases.”
According to tests by Reuters, the bot did not answer questions related to politics, particularly those pertaining to Chinese government leaders.
“Ernie bot can within seconds generate pictures of flowers and write Tang dynasty-style poems but will decline questions about Chinese President Xi Jinping by saying it has not yet learnt how to answer them,” Reuters wrote of its tests back in March.
In the earnings call, Li said: “For important and sensitive topics, we have to make sure AI will not hallucinate. Given that LLM is more or less a probabilistic model, this task is not trivial at all. The requirements are not final yet, so we have to continue to update our strategy as it evolves.”