Paid Search Spend Up; Advertisers Getting More Efficient

Kye Mou
July 8, 2011

Today, Marin Software released the latest Paid Search Quarterly Benchmarking Report. The report analyzes data from more than 800 large-scale advertisers and agencies that collectively spend in excess of $2 billion annually on paid-search. From the report, we not only see year-over-year paid search spend is higher but advertisers also appear to be operating more efficiently.

Spend for our average advertiser in Q2 2011 is up 20% compared to Q2 2010. Click-through rates also increased by 12% while costs remained relatively flat. Things get interesting, though, when taking a closer look at what went on with Google. On a year-over-year basis the average advertiser on Google experienced a 15% drop in impressions, which by itself could be cause for panic. However, during the same period we saw an 8% increase in clicks. Essentially, consumers saw fewer ads but clicked on ads more.

So, either Google changed its algorithm for matching ads to queries (wouldn’t be the first time) or search marketers enacted measures to improve efficiency. During the last year, the share of paid clicks on Exact and Phrase match keywords increased 10%. Exact and Phrase keywords have higher click-through rates and lower costs compared to Broad match terms, leading us to suspect the drop in impressions accompanied by an increase in CTR and a flat CPC could be a result of traffic shaping and quality improvement initiatives. Would you agree? Have you noticed an increase in CTR over the last year by focusing more on Exact and Phrase keyword match types?

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