In May 2016, Baidu's P4P search results reportedly caused the death of a student who tried an experimental cancer therapy he found online. The 21-year-old college student was named Wèi Zéxī (魏则西), who studied in Xidian University. Wei was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He found the Second Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps (武警北京市总队第二医院) through the search engine Baidu, on which the hospital had been promoting itself.  The treatment proved unsuccessful and Wèi passed away in April 2016.
After Wei's family spent around 200,000 yuan (around US$31,150) for treatment in the hospital, Wei Zexi died on April 12, 2016. The incident triggered massive online discussions after Wei's death. On May 2, 2016, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the top watchdog for China's Internet space, dispatched a team of investigators to Baidu. The case is still ongoing. One report claimed medical advertising makes up for 30% of Baidu's ad revenue, much of which comes from for-profit hospitals that belong to the "Putian Network", a collection of hospitals across the country founded by medical entrepreneurs associated with the Putian region of Fujian province. The investigation led Chinese regulators to impose several restrictions on Baidu, including adding disclaimers to promotional content and establishing channels for complaints about Baidu services. In addition, Baidu's search function now largely directs users to contents published on platforms under Baidu's control, leading Chinese media scholar Fang Kecheng to proclaim that "Search engine Baidu i
Baidu sells its advertising products via a network of resellers. Baidu's web administrative tools are all in Chinese, which makes it tough for non-Chinese speakers to use. Recently, a third-party company began to develop a tool with an English-language interface for Baidu advertising programs. Paid advertising can only be used by advertisers with a registered business address either in China or in a list of other East Asian countries.
Baidu focuses on generating revenues primarily from online marketing services. Baidu's pay for placement (P4P) platform enables its customers to reach users who search for information related to their products or services. Customers use automated online tools to create text-based descriptions of their web pages and bid on keywords that trigger the display of their webpage information and link. Baidu's P4P platform features an automated online sign-up process that customers use to activate their accounts at any time. The P4P platform is an online marketplace that introduces Internet search users to customers who bid for priority placement in the search results. Baidu also uses third-party distributors to sell some of its online marketing services to end customers and offers discounts to these distributors in consideration of their services.
Baidu offers certain consultative services, such as keyword suggestions, account management and performance reporting. Baidu suggests synonyms and associated phrases to use as keywords or text in search listings. These suggestions can improve clickthrough rates of the customer's listing and increase
Baidu offers certain consultative services, such as keyword suggestions, account management and performance reporting. Baidu suggests synonyms and associated phrases to use as keywords or text in search listings. These suggestions can improve clickthrough rates of the customer's listing and increase the likelihood that a user will enter into a transaction with the customer. Baidu also provides online daily reports of the number of clickthroughs, clicked keywords and the total costs incurred, as well as statistical reports organized by geographic region. However, this too has invited criticism amongst Chinese internet users.
Baidu offers ProTheme services to some of its Baidu Union members, which enable these members to display on their properties its customers' promotional links that are relevant to the subject and content of such members' properties. Baidu generates revenues from ProTheme services based on the number of clicks on its customers' links and share the revenues with its Baidu Union members in accordance with pre-agreed terms. Baidu's fixed-ranking services allow customers to display query-sensitive text links at a designated location on its search results pages. Its Targetizement services enable customers to reach their targeted Internet users by displaying their advertisements only when their targeted Internet users browse Baidu's certain Web pages.
Baidu operates its advertising service, Baidu TV, in partnership with Ads it! Media Corporation, an online advertising agency and technology company. Baidu TV provides advertisers access to the websites of its Baidu Union members, allowing advertisers to choose Websites on which they post their video advertisements with the aid of its advertisement targeting and matching system. It also offers a brand advertising service, Brand-Link. In June 2008, Baidu launched My Marketing Center, a customized platform integrating industry information, market trends and business, and industry news and reports to assist existing customers in their sales and marketing efforts. Other forms of its online advertising services allow customers to display query sensitive and non-query sensitive advertisements on its websites, including graphical advertisements.
Baidu UnionBaidu Union consists of several third-party websites and software applications. Union members incorporate a Baidu search box or toolbar and match its sponsored links with the content on their properties. Their users can conduct search via the Baidu search box or toolbar and can click the sponsored links located on their properties. Baidu has also launched programs through which it displays the online advertising of its customers on Baidu Union websites, and share the fees generated by these advertisements with the owners of these Baidu Union websites. As of May 2011, there were 230,000 partner websites that displayed Baidu Union ads on their websites.