Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li declared its core business delivered solid revenue and profit during Q3, despite a challenging macroeconomic environment impacting its online marketing and AI cloud businesses. 

On an earnings call, Li noted the company strengthened operational efficiency and maintained stable margins by upgrading its product portfolio using generative AI.

Li said Baidu “harnessed the power of Ernie and Ernie Bot to reinvent our consumer-facing and enterprise-facing products”, adding the bot supports its search function by generating direct answers to queries, complementing traditional methods.

He said such features will “help deepen user engagement and prolong time spend, unleashing new monetisation opportunities”. 

Net profit increased 28 per cent year-on-year to CNY6.7 billion ($940 million) and revenue 6 per cent to CNY34.4 billion.

Online marketing revenue was up 5 per cent to CNY19.7 billion and offline advertising sales increased 6 per cent to CNY6.9 billion. 

Li said its AI cloud business fell 2 per cent without disclosing a figure, attributed to weak demand in smart transportation projects. He expects cloud sales to recover in the current quarter.

Revenue from its video streaming platform iQIYI increased 7 per cent to CNY8 billion.

Average daily subscribing members rose 6.4 per cent to 107.5 million.

Monthly active users (MAUs) of the Baidu app increased 5 per cent to 633 million.

Operating costs rose 11 per cent to CNY5.8 billion.

R&D expenses increased 6 per cent to CNY6.1 billion, due mainly to an increase in server depreciation expenses and custody fees related to Ernie Bot research.