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Google Study: Search Ads Prompt Traffic

Posted on 8.09.2011

Online advertising has always been blessing for marketers because of how much easier it is to track and actually retrieve data on how their ads are performing. And yes, we have all heard about the supposedly questionable accuracy of analyzing online metrics, but in the end it's better to have data than to not. However, one pretty substantial issue for marketers comes from the existence of search ads, as many advertisers have concerns that these adds are cutting into their site's organic traffic.

The question many ask is that if search ads were suspended, would site's see enough of an increase in clicks on organic search results that would then make up for the loss in paid traffic? Well, Google statisticians sought out to answer that question and recently conducted over 400 studies on paused accounts to find it.

The collection, aptly titled Search Ads Pause Studies, saw a group of the company's researchers observing organic click volume in the absence of search ads. From there, they created a statistical model that would predict click volume for given levels of ad spend. This model works by generating estimates for the incremental clicks that can be attributed to search ads. This allowed them to discover the percentage of paid clicks that are not compensated for by organic clicks in lieu of search ads.

What they found was a little one-sided. Apparently, the incremental ad clicks (IAC) percentage across verticals, on average, is 89 percent, which means that almost 90 percent of the traffic that comes from search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when the search ads are paused. The study also claims that this number was consistently high across all verticals.

For marketers looking to ensure optimum presence online, this study helps to put to rest concerns about pay-per-click (PPC) ads cannibalizing organic click results. Of course, there is always overlap and the study does show that having a high-ranking organic listing does tend to make it less likely that users will click your ad, but that is not always a given. Likewise, while PPC can occasionally infringe on organic clicks, it still appears to be a worthwhile investment, as it will help increase your visibility and boost your click volume.

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