News and Press

news 10/12/2012

Both Search Engine Watch and Internet Retailer shared some of the key findings of RKG’s latest Digital Marketing Report in their recent articles.  Amy Dusto of Internet Retailer mentioned RKG’s study which shows a slowing in growth of Google ad spending for Q3, but noted:

“The slowing may be influenced by the lower prices for now of ads that appear in the new Google Shopping area of Google search results pages, RKG says. The ads in that area, which Google calls Product Listing Ads, cost 15% less per click than comparable ads in search, the agency reports.”

Search Engine Watch’s Miranda Miller also mentioned RKG’s thoughts on the influence of PLAs:

“Click volume on Google grew 28 percent, while CPCs fell 7 percent, said RKG. They note that these figures were heavily influenced by Product Listing Ads and the Google Shopping transition, which have provided incremental traffic, but at a lower average CPC.”

Update: RKG’s Digital Marketing Report Covered by Search Engine Land –

news 10/09/2012

Advertisers Faced Stronger Year-Ago Comps in Q3, Achieved Higher ROI

RKG|Rimm-Kaufman Group released its latest Digital Marketing Report covering the third quarter of 2012 today.  The report found year-over-year search spend growth continuing to slow for Google, even as the search giant moved to monetize traffic from its previously free Google Shopping listings.

Across its client base, which includes over 40 of the top 500 internet retailers, RKG found same-site spending growth of 18% for Google in Q3, down from 34% in the previous quarter.  Google paid click growth slipped to 21%, while average cost-per-click fell 3%.

RKG Senior Research Analyst Mark Ballard, who oversaw the report, pointed to two key factors to explain the trends, noting that “above all, the year-ago comps have strengthened considerably.  In the third quarter of 2011, Google’s official revenue growth hit a rate not seen for three years before, and not seen since.”  Ballard added, “advertisers are also seeing considerably higher ROI, largely due to the immaturity of the Product Listing Ads marketplace, which drove 20% of Google clicks.”

The RKG report shows click volume from Product Listing Ads (PLAs), the ad format powering Google Shopping results, growing at a rate of 262% in Q3.  But, the report found that to be down from an even stronger growth rate in the prior quarter.  Ballard noted that, “our results may be the exception here.  Our clients were early adopters of this format and have achieved huge growth from it dating back to 2010.  For Google, there may be some upside from those advertisers who have been slow to recognize the importance of this segment.”

In the mobile space, RKG shows tablets nearly tripling their share of paid clicks to 9% and slightly narrowing the CPC gap with desktop to 5%.  Smartphone CPCs remained 54% lower than desktop.  Combined, mobile generated 16% of paid clicks, compared to a 21% share of organic visits, as advertisers sought to limit spending on lower quality smartphone traffic.

The full RKG report offers over 40 charts with additional insights and analysis on paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, comparison shopping engines, multi-channel attribution and more.

Among their published results, RKG found:

  • Total same-site paid search spending grew at a 19% year over year rate in Q3 2012.  That was down from a 32% growth rate among the same client sample for Q2.
  • Google paid search spending growth decelerated to 18% Y/Y in Q3, down from 34% in Q2.  Google paid click growth was 21%, including the traffic infusion from the Google Shopping transition.  CPCs were 3% lower Y/Y in Q3, while ROI rose 12% for competitive queries.
  • Paid search spending on Bing and Yahoo combined grew 26% Y/Y in Q3, up from 19% growth in Q2.  Click growth accelerated to 14% Y/Y, while CPCs increased 10%.
  • Google’s Product Listing Ads traffic grew 262% Y/Y and provided 20% of Google paid search clicks for the quarter.  However, CPCs for PLAs ran 15% lower than those for comparable text ads.
  • Google held a 77% share of organic search visits among RKG SEO clients.  Bing and Yahoo each held a share of 10%.  In paid search, Google AdWords generated 82% of clicks in Q3, down from 84% in Q2.
  • Facebook’s share of referral traffic remained at 6%, while Pinterest continued to provide a larger share of traffic.  Along with Twitter, these social sites accounted for a little less than 1% of all site visits in Q3.
  • Nearly 21% of organic search visits occurred on mobile devices in Q3, up from 18% in Q2.  For paid search, 16% of clicks and 11% of ad spend were mobile.
  • Tablet share of paid clicks nearly tripled to 9% and the gap between tablet and desktop CPCs fell to 5%.  Smartphone CPCs remained 54% lower than desktop.
  • Among CSEs, Amazon Product Ads has made the largest gains in 2012, seeing its share of clicks increase from around 5% in Q4 2011 to nearly 20% in Q3 2012

RKG attribution data shows there was an average 3.2 non-brand marketing touches per order in Q3, but for 76% of orders, marketing touches were only generated by a single channel.

About RKG
RKG is a full-service digital marketing agency that combines superior marketing talent with leading edge technology to create the industry’s most effective data-driven online marketing solutions. Founded in 2003, RKG specializes in working with clients in retail, travel, financial and B2B organizations ranging in size from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. RKG is a privately held company headquartered in Charlottesville, VA with offices in Bend, OR and Boston, MA.  For more information visit or follow the company on Twitter @rimmkaufman.

news 09/10/2012

Rapidly-Growing Digital Marketing Agency Has Added To Impressive Roster
Since 2012 Survey Announced; RKG Now Tops Industry With Over 40 of Top 500 Retailers Onboard

RKG | Rimm-Kaufman Group has been named to the top Search Engine Marketing vendors list in Internet Retailer’s 2012 survey of top retailers, the company announced today.

The highly-coveted industry ranking is based on interviews with more than 1,000 of today’s top retailers, conducted by the magazine’s research team. According to officials at the rapidly-growing Charlottesville, Virginia-based company, RKG has continued to add to its impressive client roster even since the survey was completed, and now counts an industry-leading roster of over 40 of the Top 500 retailers among its clients.

This latest positive news for RKG makes it the number one Search Engine Marketing vendor to serve top retail clients using proprietary bid management technology. This is a distinction that captures the essence of what the company is all about, according to its Co-Founder and CEO George Michie.
“RKG’s success can be traced directly to our client-centric approach and our deep retail experience,” Michie said. “One key way to that approach is that we serve our clients with proprietary, customizable technology. It is simply impossible to deliver flexible, customized solutions with rigid, third-party software.”

The source of the recognition, according to RKG VP of Marketing Ryan Gibson, makes it even more gratifying. “As an agency with its roots in retail and in search, it means even more to us to be recognized by a group made up of today’s leading retailers. Their recognition is further proof that our unique combination of smart marketers and leading technologies provides exactly what retailers want and need in a dynamic and challenging marketplace. We congratulate our partners on the IR 500 and look forward to sharing RKG’s capabilities with even more members of this elite group in the future.”

Current RKG clients on the 2012 IR500 list include Charming Shoppes, Eddie Bauer, Nutrisystem, ThinkGeek and Zale Corp, along with over 35 others.

news 07/11/2012

Both Search Engine Land and MediaPost picked up on some of the key findings of RKG’s latest Digital Marketing Report yesterday.  Pamela Parker at Search Engine Land spotlighted the coming shake-up in the comparison shopping space noting:

The big story of the quarter — Google’s move to monetize Shopping by transitioning merchants to paid listings ads (PLAs) — won’t truly reveal its impact until later in the year. RKG’s figures give some measure of the impact of this change. The company said 15% of its clients non-branded paid clicks on Google were generated by PLAs in the second quarter, and they generated a 13% higher than average return-on-ad-spend (ROAS).

MediaPost’s Laurie Sullivan offered a rundown on a number of RKG’s Q2 data points and contrasted those results with the latest comScore findings:

On the desktop, Google improved its share of organic search traffic, which rose from 76% in Q1 to 77% in Q2. Bing and Yahoo each held a share of 10%. In paid search, Google AdWords generated 84% of clicks.

June 2012 search data from comScore reveals that Google holds 66.8% market share for the month, up sequentially from 66.7%. Bing holds 15.6% for June, compared with 15.4% in May, and Yahoo fell 13% from 13.4%, respectively, according to Macquarie Analyst Ben Schachter.

UPDATE 7/13/2012

Search Engine Watch also featured the RKG Digital Marketing Report for Q2 2012 in a piece spotlighting data from four of the largest digital marketing agencies.  While specific growth rates varied significantly, there has been general agreement that:

Paid search spend growth is relatively steady, but slowing from the impressive rates seen over the previous few quarters.

U.S. mobile paid search spend increased astronomically, while organic search visits from mobile, mobile as a percentage of total search spend, and mobile clicks and impressions all rose

news 07/10/2012

RKG (Rimm-Kaufman Group), one of the largest independent digital marketing agencies in the U.S., released its latest Digital Marketing Report covering the second quarter of 2012 today.  Across its client base, which includes over 30 of the top 500 internet retailers, RKG found Google search spend growth slipping from Q1 levels, but remaining robust at 32%.

Lower average cost-per-click (CPC), down 10%, continued to temper the impact of booming Google paid click growth rates, which remained near five year highs.  While Google controlled 77% of organic search traffic, it was better able to monetize its user base than rivals Bing and Yahoo, generating 84% of paid clicks and taking 84% of search ad spend. More »

press 06/04/2012

Mark Ballard was recently interviewed by MIT’s Technology Review about the growing popularity of alternative search engines to Google, namely Blekko and DuckDuckGo.

Mark Ballard, a senior research analyst with Rimm-Kaufman, where he tracks online marketing and advertising, notes that both search startups started from a low base, making big growth easier to achieve. But he says they have proven that users can be tempted away from Google with the right product. “While we’ve seen Google ramp up their display of ads and move further and further from the ‘ten blue links approach’ [to more complicated search results], Blekko and DuckDuckGo are offering a simpler, less cluttered user experience.”

press 05/31/2012

Business Insider was quick to get RKG’s analysis of Google’s recent changes to Google Shopping.

Mark Ballard, a senior research analyst at RKG, noted that while changing Google Shopping to a fully paid marketing channel could generate a bit revenue for Google’s paid click services, it could also draw the ire of antitrust regulators, advertisers, and users.


Ecommerce Times also conducted an interview with Mark Ballard on Google Shopping’s switch to a CPC product:

“Based on our clients’ results, we would expect Google Shopping to increase Google’s paid click total in the neighborhood of 2 to 5 percent over the long term. That’s not a huge percentage, but it would ultimately mean billions more in revenue for Google,” Mark Ballard, senior research analyst at Rimm-Kaufman Group, told the E-Commerce Times.

Profit is likely to come without many complaints from retailers, Ballard said.

“The reaction from our retail clients has been more positive than I expected,” he said. “While no one is happy about having to pay for traffic that we were previously getting for free, a number of retailers have expressed optimism that the change will help fight price erosion and eliminate low-quality merchants who turn customers off from the entire comparison shopping channel.”

press 05/11/2012

George Michie was recently interviewed by Internet Retailer about Bing’s forthcoming inclusion of social signals on the SERP. Bing is preparing to include results from Facebook on the right rail of their search results page, a move that might help lure heavy Facebook users to Bing rather than Google.

press 05/01/2012

In an article this week, MediaPost’s Laurie Sullivan referenced George Michie’s recent Search Insider Summit panel about Multichannel Attribution:

Attribution becomes increasingly complex as more media becomes part of the mix. George Michie, CEO at Rimm-Kaufman Group, outlined the barriers to understanding attribution and provided an example of attributing each touch to a winning point in Game Seven of the NBA finals. He asked during last week’s MediaPost Search Insider Summit whether credit goes to the player in-bounding the ball to another player, or to the player who shot the ball through the hoop.

Michie also asked how marketers deal with a change in trusted metrics relied on for years as online advertising matures and changes. Year-over-year performance numbers could start to decline dramatically, and remain down for nearly a year with the change of an attribution model that now takes more than one media channel into consideration.

press 04/27/2012

RKG attribution management research was discussed in an eMarketer article about last click attribution models not providing marketers with an accurate picture of their campaigns. Overall weakness of a last touch attribution model is a topic that RKG has been discussing for awhile. As such, we built our attribution management solution to be flexible and provide fractional credit across multiple marketing channels.