I might be out-of-line with my thinking but as I was reviewing some of my clients’ paid search campaigns I noticed an alarming pattern.
What I noticed was that about 80% of my available impressions (if not actually higher) come through only 20% of the paid search engines I use to target and attract qualified visitors. I primarily use four paid search engines (Google AdWords, Yahoo, MSN, and LookSmart) and will expand to others depending on the client’s market, product or service (including geographic service considerations). This is alarming because the decline between my top PPSE (Google AdWords) is significant compared to my second best PPSE (Yahoo Search) and the gap only broadens when you compare to the others.
So why is this alarming? First, it shows how powerful Google’s properties are among searchers. The last statistics I saw from SearchEngineWatch.com (April 2007; reported The ClickZ Network, Jun 19, 2007) showed Google commanding 55.2% market share compared to Yahoo with just 21.9%! After these two – it only gets uglier with MSN at 9.0%, AOL at 5.4% and Ask with a mere 1.8%. Google has the widest distribution and with it the swarms of pay-per-click marketing competitors gunning for the same big payoff.
Second, since it seems that only a few search engines are required to support the search population, it’s tough for Yahoo and others to partner with new, wide distribution search engines that offer an opportunity to close the gap with Google. I spoke to MSN today about the low impressions for my campaigns, where certain keywords in Google are receiving 70 to 100 times the impressions they are getting in MSN. I asked about MSN’s distribution since they serve only MSN properties and the response was that MSN is growing their content network. Unfortunately, unless content advertising becomes more effective (conversions are typically much lower on content than search) I don’t see content being an exciting alternative to search – just a “no-where-else-to-go-alternative.”
So the point is to invest in maximizing your Google AdWords’ campaigns (which holds the greatest distribution opportunity) because looking to expand your distribution across other paid search engines is limited. A higher click-through and conversion rate for a Google AdWords campaign will probably double your sales compared to even an optimized campaign in MSN just because of the available impressions.
Agree – Disagree? Let me know!