Gavin Hirst - Wednesday 17th April 2013

eBay provides Google Adwords report without context

Following on from my previous post about the importance of providing context with any data that is produced, it would appear that eBay have fallen into the trap of doing just that. In a recent article published in the Guardian, it looked at a recently published report by eBay stating that Google Keyword advertising is a waste of money and that no one should be doing it anymore. Unfortunately, what eBay left out of the report was the context that surrounds their own use of Google Adwords and how it may differ from other companies who choose to advertise with Google.



The report by eBay suggests that, “Results show that brand keyword ads [where companies purchase ads on searches for their own name] have no short-term benefits, and that returns from all other keywords are a fraction of conventional estimates,”. They then applied this theory to their own site, removing paid ads from Microsoft and Yahoo but leaving them with Google. They noticed no discernible drop off in the number of visitors to their site, finding that most people got to their site organically.

One thing that needs to be made clear here though is that eBay is a massive, globally recognised brand. They are more than likely going to appear organically at the top or near the top of search engine results pages for many number of keyword searches. They have a strong brand and with it a strong reputation. They have little problem ranking for key terms relating to their business but what about the small to medium size companies out there?

Another thing missed in the report is the effect on Google Adwords Quality Score from Branded Search. Quality Score is the score that Adwords gives to your account, keywords and ad groups – branded search enhances account quality score which can in turn lower CPCs, and because branded terms have generally high click through rates and low CPCs they can bring a valuable boost to the account, at a relatively low cost.


Organic vs paid search

For small to medium size businesses, it can be extremely difficult to gain natural organic ranking for specific keywords. Appearing on page 10 of a Google search engine results page is neither here or there to these companies as they are never going to be found in those deepest, darkest depths. eBay on the other hand is unlikely to struggle to rank for their main keywords; they are a highly trusted and recognised brand.

Many small to medium enterprises rely on Google Adwords to generate click throughs, sales and possibly more importantly, brand awareness. It may be the case that a high proportion of Google users do not click on ads, however the $37 billion revenue generated from advertising in the US suggests that there are plenty of organisations that believe in the value of advertising on Google.

Maybe an advert doesn’t always generate a click for a small to medium enterprise. What it may do is plant a seed; that first recognition by a customer of their brand name and what they do. Although it is difficult to measure that impact, it is no different to many other forms of advertising when it comes to measurement. Radio advertising consistently scores poorly in research into where a customer heard about a product or service. However that customer may have heard the radio advert every day on their way to work and subconsciously it has made a significant impact on their purchasing decision.

I often hear people say ‘Advertising doesn’t work on me – it’s a mugs game’, however we are all subjected to adverts every hour of every day and these, albeit subliminally, have an impact on our buying behaviour. It would be naive to think that our purchasing decisions are not affected by advertising – especially Google Adwords that bring up highly relevant results to a visitor search, particularly when that search is research for a purchasing decision.


Can it work for you?

Google Adwords is a tool that many companies are using alongside their organic SEO activity. At Digital Hothouse, we can help you manage and maintain your Adwords campaigns in order to generate the most impressions and Click throughs. Adword campaigns require constant monitoring and daily evaluation to make sure the keywords identified are working for you. This is something we can help to manage, working closely with your company.

Google Adword campaigns are never a substitute for good, organic SEO activity; writing engaging content, identifying relevant keywords, structuring your content in the right way etc, however do not underestimate the power of Google Adwords to drive traffic to your company’s website, after all, $37 billion suggests there are enough people out there clicking on paid links to justify the expenditure.

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