It feels like this week is focused mostly on Google news and the research done around their products, with topics like mobile advertising via search and their own self-promotion emerging this week. Now another study has arrived but this time it’s from Google itself, or more specifically, their research team.
This report is entitled “Impact of Ranking of Organic Search Results on the Incrementality of Search Ads” and focuses on how organic search results and rankings impact ad impressions and ad clicks. It’s a continuation of a 2011 study which found that 89 per cent of the visits to the advertiser’s site from ad-clicks are not replaced by organic clicks when the search ads are paused (i.e. users were far less likely to click on an organic link than they were an ad).
This time they focused on two questions: how often is an ad impression accompanied by an associated organic result for the same advertiser and the relationship between ad clicks and the rank of an advertiser’s organic results.
Analysing 390 Search Ads Pause studies, the research team found that the opportunities for organic search results to replace search ads in terms of clicks were limited. They found that on average, 81 per cent of ad impressions and 66 per cent of ad clicks occur in the absence of an associated organic result on the first page of search results.
Importance of Rank
For advertisers who appear in the top rank organic slot, they found that, on average, half of all ad clicks are incremental, meaning that half of all ad clicks are not replaced by organic clicks when search ads are paused. It gets worse for those who have search results ranking in second, third or fourth as 81 per cent of ad clicks are incremental. For those who appear fifth or lower, this percentage increases to 96 per cent.
While Google say that this gives guidance on overall trends (you’re better off using ads to get noticed if your rank is below second which if you’ve noticed is practically the vast majority of advertisers), they stress that the study focuses on clicks rather than conversions. They recommend for people to conduct their own randomised experiments to lower the percentage of incremental ad clicks and to use the value-per-click calculations in their original search ads pause study to determine the level of investment on their search ads.
Basically what Google is trying to say is the obvious, if you’re a smaller business trying to get traffic, you won’t get as much traffic as you appear further down the search list, and you’re better off investing in ads to significantly improve your chances of being found. However, if the above doesn’t make complete sense, the team have included aninfographic, showing what the results mean on an actual Google search page. You can find the entire study here.