Valentine's Day Paid-Search Study Identifies Benefits And Pitfalls
The cost per click (CPC) for the keyword "roses" rose from 5 cents on Feb 1 to $7.67 per click on Feb. 12, according to a study released Thursday. It turns out that consumers increasingly go online to search and buy Valentine's Day gifts, find a restaurant for that special dinner, or simply get information on a favorite destination -- even in 2010 during a wilting economy. So it's just as important to optimize Web sites, as well as design paid-search ads and landing pages to complement both types of online marketing campaigns.
The study jointly published by Performics and BrightEdge, which reviews trends in 2010, looks at the effectiveness of paid search and search engine optimization (SEO) leading up to Valentine's Day. We'll look at the part of the study that reviews paid-search campaigns.
When it comes to paid-search campaigns, search activity was concentrated on very few keywords such as flowers, roses, teddy bears and cologne, with the top 10 terms accounting for 79% of searches on the 83 terms studied. Of the top 10, 60% of search volume comes from the terms flowers and Valentine's Day.
Comparing January 2010 against February 2010, the study observed "massive increases" in search activity on the keyword set. For example, the number of searchers looking for flowers rose 50%. Similar increases were noted for other related keywords like roses, bouquet and florist.
Valentine's Day 2010 saw a battle break out over holiday-related AdWords terms in the ten days prior. The study identifies the aggregated paid-search, or paid per click (PPC), cost (total clicks times cost per click) of the keywords increased by nearly nine times from January to February. Most came not from an uptick in search activity on those terms, but from advertisers bidding up keywords; the average CPC on these terms grew 382% sequentially, according to the study.
In particular, the top ten search terms by weighted CPC on Feb. 12 were the subject of a bidding war, with the average term increasing thirty-two times in price from Feb. 1.
Some of the keywords that bid up higher than usual include delivery and cheap. Cheap flowers and cheap roses were two of the hottest phrases. The report suggests that attracting price-sensitive customers is a poor recipe for generating loyalty, so it's crucial that the first sale come with profits. When searchers look to buy holiday-related items primarily on the basis of price, odds are they follow suit next year, too -- but may not be loyal.
The study also notes that some of the keywords that had the most inflated bid prices just prior to Valentine's Day were branded terms such as ftd flowers and flowers.com, the latter jumping in price more than $19 per click. The study suggests it could have been a defense strategy by those brands to prevent redirection of searchers looking for their sites.