In 2011 Google released a study examining the impact of search ads on organic clicks in search. It is comprehensive and is an interesting read for anyone who wants the details. Google analyzed several hundred studies of how the number of organic clicks changes when the search ads are present, and when they are turned off.
There were some very interesting takeaways from the report :
US online search advertising was almost $12 Billion in 2010 and is total online spend is projected to reach $42 billion by 2013. Search ads have several advantages over traditional media including allowing targeting of consumers triggered by search terms, and only charging advertisers when ads are clicked. It will become increasingly difficult to remain relevant in the marketplace without participating in paid search.
Over 89% of the ad clicks were incremental, meaning that the advertiser’s site would not have been visited without an ad campaign.
81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks occur in the absence of an associated organic result on the first page of search results. While organic results have some role to play, it appears the role is fairly limited.
50% of ad clicks are incremental for advertisers who appear in the top rank organic slot. This means that half of all ad clicks are not replaced by organic clicks when search ads are paused.
The importance of carefully crafted and executed SEO campaigns can’t be understated, however, relying on organic search results to drive traffic to your website can have serious implications in the ever competitive online market. For anyone who is relying primarily or solely on organic search alone to drive traffic to their website this may prove to be a very costly mistake.
The continued refinement of the targeting capabilities within paid search by geographic area, device, language, and time of day explains the incredible growth of ad spend in this media.