Mar 302009

Paid Search Market Share by Engine: Yahoo Resurgent?

We took a look at "Market Share" of the big three engines over time and saw some interesting trends.

A couple of notes on the data:

  • The benchmark we're using is advertising expense not impressions or traffic volume.
  • We looked at Paid Search only, not content or banner deals
  • We studied the advertising network, not strictly the engine's domain.
  • Our systems are engine agnostic: our clients do not set engine budgets, indeed most don't have budgets at all. We allow money to flow based strictly on where traffic can be purchased within efficiency tolerances.

Given that understanding, here's what we saw over the past 15 months:

PPC Market Share

Two observations come to mind:

  1. It appears that since last August, Yahoo! has regained some ground.
  2. Google seemed to get a larger holiday kick than the others.
  3. Even with MSN Cashback and MSN's willingness to buy Market Share from Google -- I'm sure others saw Google ads for Live Search on high traffic KW, yes? -- MSN gained no share whatsoever.

With respect to 1, I'm not sure if the fluctuations between Google and Yahoo relate to Yahoo showing Google ads for a period last spring and summer, or network partners coming and going. Could Google's holiday bump be a function of advertiser's focusing more on Google bidding than others at the holiday driving up CPCs for those of us who apply seasonal adjustments automatically across all engines?

Do others see similar trends? Do others have better explanations than I do for them?


3 Responses to "Paid Search Market Share by Engine: Yahoo Resurgent? "
thinks says:
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I wonder how much of this resurgence is related to Yahoo's "search partners" and the fact that advertisers can't opt out of them. Or the fact that Yahoo began around that time reactivating keywords in advertisers' accounts that were previously dormant.
Very interesting point. Yahoo claims that it discounts traffic from search partners that deliver poor converting traffic, but we can't see those discounts. Perhaps those discounts disappeared? Yahoo reactivating keywords without permission is an infuriating practice. However, it doesn't affect our data. Our Yahoo reps know that we'll scream bloody murder if they touch our clients' accounts so they've been pretty good about keeping their hands off the levers for us.

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