The Clicks are Falling, the Clicks are Falling!

By Aaron Goldman, VP Marketing & Strategic Partnerships

More fodder in the press today trying to reassure the market that the bottom is not falling out at Google. Here’s an excerpt from a MediaPost piece by Tameka Kee:

“SearchIgnite analyzed the performance of its clients' ads over the first 45 days of the year and found that clicks on Google ads were up nearly 46% year-over-year --while comScore found that Google's clicks had remained relatively flat (down by 0.3%) in January. The search automation tech firm also found that total ad spend on Google was up by 40% versus the same time period in 2007. SearchIgnite's research covered more than 53 million clicks across Google, Yahoo and MSN, with clients in the retail, travel, financial services and media industries, among others.”

Not sure we’re looking at apples to apples here. comScore monitors Google SERPs through a panel of computers and counts the number of clicks on paid ads relative to queries on Google. SearchIgnite monitors paid search campaign data managed by its clients (marketers and agencies) and counts the number of clicks on paid ads relative to impressions received (for each campaign).

In other words, SearchIgnite’s data is skewed. First, it does not measure the total universe of search queries, only the impressions received by actual paid search campaigns (which have budget caps among other restrictions like geo, etc). Second, changes to the campaign parameters will alter the number of clicks received relative to impressions -- if advertisers have bid higher CPCs or changed ad copy to receive higher CTRs this year over last, then clicks will go up.

Same logic goes for ad spend. A 40% increase is not indicative of more searchers at large clicking on ads, it’s a function of marketers increasing their investment in paid search.

I’m all for using hard data to dispel marketplace myths but let’s make sure we are using the proper correlations.


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