eBay, Wal-Mart, sporting good top the search engine queries list

HitWise released the statistics on the keywords used in search engines. The top 10 corporate brand search terms during that week were “ebay,” best buy,” “walmart,” “ebay.com,” “target,” “sears,” “amazon.com,” circuit city,” “home depot,” and “amazon,” according to Hitwise. The top generic product search terms were “sporting goods,” “furniture,” “auto parts,” “books,” “prom dresses,” “tires,” “lingerie,” “cell phones,” and “flowers.” Google accounted for 4.26% of all visits to shopping sites during the week of Dec. 4, while Yahoo! Search contributed 2.24% of all visits, and MSN Search 0.54%.

$4 bln spent on search engine marketing in 2004

Advertisers will spend $4 bln in 2004 by year-end on search marketing programs, and are expected to spend 39% more on such programs in 2005, according to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO).

SEMPO breaks down advertiser spending for 2004 in several areas: $3.058 bln to search media companies; $618 mln on SEM-related in-house expenses within advertising corporations; $380 mln to search engine marketing agencies, and $30 mln in SEM technology licensing fees. The report also estimated that marketers will spend (including both in-house and external media, service and licensing expenses) $3.342 bln on paid placement campaigns; $492 mln on organic search engine optimization; $182 mln on paid inclusion, and $72 mln on SEM-related technology services.

Only 41% of advertisers reported that SEM budgets were newly created funds for this purpose; the rest said SEM budgets were coming in whole or in part from shifts away from traditional or Internet marketing programs. The biggest shift in terms of share of budget was transferred from paid listings on shopping directories, e-mail programs, web display advertising, and print magazine and newspaper ads. Brand awareness was overall the #1 objective advertisers set for search marketing programs, just beating out sales and lead generation initiatives. 50% of advertiser respondents said that their senior executive staff considered the company’s search marketing initiatives a “high priority” (although that figure dropped to 32% of companies with staff sizes larger than 500).

Advertisers expect to spend, on average, 39% more on all search marketing programs (organic SEO, paid placement, paid inclusion and SEM technology) in 2005 compared to 2004; smaller firms projected 32% more while larger firms (larger than 500 employees) projected a 43% year-over-year increase. Meanwhile, SEM agencies optimistically projected budget overall gross revenue increases for 2005 of 79% on average. Most advertisers plan to manage the majority of their search marketing spending in-house as opposed to via an agency: 52% of advertisers said they would manage 100% of their 2005 spending on both paid inclusion and organic SEO in-house; on average, advertises said they would outsource 28% of their spending on paid placement and 29% of their organic SEO through agencies. Large advertisers were likely to outsource more of those budgets, but still a minority of their spending for both organic SEO and paid placement.

51% of spending on search engines occurs through search marketing agencies

Just a few years ago, most search engine marketing (SEM) spending went directly to the search engines. Today, SEM is becoming a more mature market like traditional advertising in which agencies play a substantial role. Indeed, while just 31% of search marketers use an agency to manage their SEM campaigns, those marketers account for 51% of the total spending on paid search, according to JupiterResearch. This marks a significant increase in the spending directed by agencies over the past 18 months. Decide Interactive/24/7 Search, Did-It.com, Impaqt, Performics and AvenueA/Razorfish Search are closely grouped for top ratings in paid listings management. iProspect and Impaqt outpace all the other vendors in organic optimization.

Google averages 9c of earnings from each search query

John Battelle quotes Majestic Research and comScore Networks reporting on pay-per-click performance at Google.

98% of Google revenues are from paid search. 65% of revenues are domestic. Q3 2004 domestic growth driven by 7% QTQ increase in paid clicks, to $964 mln, and a 2% QTQ increase in average price per click, to 5%. Average CPC: 54 cents, up a cent QTQ. Revenue per query grew 8.3% QTQ to 9 cents. Overall US searches grew 6% QTQ, Google-powered searches grew by 0.2%. In Q2 2004, 51.9% of all searches on the Google Network included at least one paid listing. Of those, 32% include at least one paid introduction. That’s nearly 17% of all searches ending up with a click on a paid link.

Per-click prices go up 7% in November 2004, consumer services keywords up 32%

Fathom Online released its Keyword Price Index for November 2004 showing an overall 7% increase in the price of keywords from the October average of $1.55 per keyword to $1.66 for November. This increase was less than the overall 13% increase in October, but the two months together reflect the upward trend for keyword prices rising 21% since September.

Keyword prices for consumer services soared the most, increasing on average 32% from $.96 to $.1.27 per keyword. Adding that to the October increase of $.48 health, entertainment, schools and other advertisers are paying on average 135% more than they did in September. This category includes health, dating, and legal services, education, entertainment, media, and others. Retailers also were willing to ante up for more expensive keywords to attract holiday shoppers. Their November costs rose to $.60 from $.48 per keyword in October, a 25% increase, and a combined 88% increase for the two month period.

Advertisers in other sectors fared better. Telecom broadband keyword prices fell from $1.78 to $1.59 in November, a 16% decrease from September prices. The automotive industry, which had dropped 10% in October slowed the trend in November dropping 3% from $1.39 to $1.35 per keyword.

Cost of search engine keywords up 14% in October 2004

Search engine marketer Fathom Online tracks the cost of keywords on major search engines allowing pay-per-click marketing. Fathom Online tracks 500 most popular keywords in 9 categories. The cost of keywords grew 14% on average in October, due in large part to sharp spikes in the consumer services and retail categories. Advertisers paid an average of $1.55 per keyword in October, an 18 cent increase over September’s $1.37. This uptick was driven by consumer services and retail, where keyword costs increased an average of 78% and 52%, respectively. For goods and services, advertisers paid 96 cents in October versus 54 cents in September. The cost for retail terms also grew from 32 cents to 48 cents last month.

In finance/mortgage, the highest-priced category, price increases corresponded with the interest rate drop on the 30-year mortgage. Marketers paid $4.31 for mortgage-related keywords in October, versus $3.17 in September. Other sectors showed slight decreases in pricing. Automotive keyword costs fell from $1.43 to $1.39 in October, and broadband/telecom costs fell from $1.89 to $1.78.

Vivisimo, Clusty, A9, AllTheWeb, Snap collectively get 7.1% of US Web users

For the week ending Oct. 30, 71% of US Web users went to the top 10 search engines, a 7% increase YTY, Hitwise reports. Collectively, five alternative search engines – Vivisimo, Clusty (property of Vivisimo), a9 (property of Amazon), Alltheweb (property of Yahoo!) and Snap – claimed only 10% of total visits to search engines and directories. Four alternative engines each delivered 7-8% of their traffic to shopping and classified ad sites, while Google, Yahoo Search and MSN Search each delivered about 10% of their traffic to such sites. Search engines a9 by contrast sent 18% of its overall traffic to shopping and classified sites, influenced by its affiliation with Amazon.com.

5% of small and medium business purchase search engine listings

Kelsey Group concluded that 61% of small and mid-sized enterprises believe the Internet is a significant advertising medium, but that only 14% of local advertisers have made online media buys in the last year. The tally was even less for sponsored listings: only 5% of small or mid-sized businesses purchased search listings; and 5% reported interactive Yellow Pages buys in the last year. 52% of Yellow Pages users claimed allegiance to one provider, while 42% said they use two or three. By contrast, 35% of respondents said they use only one search engine, while 53% said they use two to three.