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October 24, 2008

Google vs. the Search Network

Google-vs-search-networkIn the battle of search engines, Google is dominant. But part of Google's dominance comes from their search partners, in particular some of the big ones like AOL and Ask.com. Visitors who perform searches at AOL.com are actually served search results and paid search ads from Google. For paid search marketers, we've always had the option to send or not send our ads to these search partners, but it's been difficult to measure the ROI. Many of our clients would love to know if these search partners return good ROI, as they can represent a significant amount of traffic and cost. 

Last week, Google announced support for showing performance data with the search network split out from Google.com and other Google properties. I took a quick look at a couple of clients to see how they performed. Somewhat at odds with what I think many people assumed, the search network actually performs better than Google. The key is the difference in average CPCs, and similar or better conversion rates, leading to what is often a much lower cost per order. The data also shows that the search network is actually quite large, representing 15-20% of the total searches.

The data seems clear: based on these findings, I recommend all search campaigns include the search network. Otherwise, there is a good chance you're leaving money on the table from Google's search partners. (written by jason.james at channeladvisor dot com)


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