Audience size doesn’t count says report

Companies using search marketing need to look beyond the size of a search engine’s audience when choosing where to spend their budget for buying keywords, the latest research says.

According to online research specialist Nielsen/NetRatings, which has just released its first MegaView Search report specifically comparing audiences and click-through rates, those search engines with the biggest audiences do not always deliver the best return on investment (ROI).

Looking at the figures for December 2004, Nielsen/NetRatings found that Google had the biggest audience and the best click-through rates during December 2004, with Yahoo! in second place for both. But further down the field the picture was rather different.

Ask Jeeves, which had the third-biggest audience, ranked ninth in terms of click-through, while MSN Search, with the fourth-biggest audience, ranked seventh by click-through. By contrast, AltaVista, which ranked 15th in audience terms, placed third in click-through rates. Similarly, Tiscali, 12th in audience terms, was fourth in terms of click-throughs.

Nielsen/NetRatings head of data analytics Tim Roe says: “When it comes to placing keywords on search engines, a bigger audience is not always better. Understanding that the smaller search engines can be as successful as some of the larger ones in generating click-throughs can help companies to improve their ROI and make their promotional spend go further.”

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