Paid search ads do not work – at least how you want them to

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I have always stood by my belief that  paid advertising in search engines is one of the most wasteful uses of a budget. Anyone with half an ounce of common sense would surely agree.

Recent research conducted by eBay in collaboration with Berkeley and Chicago university, claim paid adverts in search engines have “no measurable benefits” to the advertiser.

The researchers found that most search adverts on most search terms had very little affect on sales at all – and warn that the medium may be “beyond the peak of its efficacy.”

I am seeing more and more companies and higher education buying paid adverts on searches. It seems many will pay for ads as a way of justifying their budgets or signalling to the powers that be that they are trying all they can to advertise a product. Hopefully the research will go some way in quashing this behaviour.

“The results show that almost all of the forgone click traffic and attributed sales were captured by natural search,” the researchers found. In addition to this, I strongly suggest advertisers consider what the impact of being listed in the paid ads has on their reputation. Does a company or institution look more or less reputable if they are listed under the paid ads.

Organic search results perform better

Internet advertising is the fastest growing advertising channel and paid ads comprise the largest share of the spend. In the U.S. alone, $36.6 billion was spent in 2012, up 15.2% from 2011. Paid search advertising remains the largest component.

On average, US consumers do not shop more on eBay when they are exposed to paid search ads. If this is the case with eBay, expect it to be the case with your site.

With the right content strategy and thought behind where your market lies there is no reason why your site cannot appear in the organic search where it will not cost you a penny.

Kabir Ganguly

Kabir Ganguly

Web, Digital, Advertising, Media, Strategist, Music, Food, Football, Internet, Observer, Competitor. Managing Director -

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