Report: Top Keyword Price Nears $100 Per Click

CPC/balloon

The highest-priced keyword in the United States last month sold on Google for $99.44 per click, according to the AdGooroo Search Engine Advertising Update: Q309.

The report released Wednesday pegs Mesothelioma as the highest-selling keyword in September. The same word sold on Yahoo in the No. 1 spot for $60.68 per click. The phrase "auto insurance comparison" took top honors on Bing, bringing in $55.20 per click.

It's the first time that AdGooroo's quarterly report has analyzed the price for keywords, according to Rich Stokes, founder and CEO of AdGooroo. He couldn't tell Online Media Daily how many times the top keywords were clicked on during the month.

As for the word "mesothelioma," it seems lawyers have ramped up paid-search ads based on lawsuits related to the asbestos-causing lung cancer. The paid search ads direct people to lawyers affected by the death sentence. "If I was a law firm specializing in mesothelioma lawsuits I would put the paid-search ads on Bing," he says. "The word hasn't caught up demand on Bing as it has on the other two search engines."

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Stokes believes average cost per click (CPCs) will remain flat through 2010. Advertisers can expect to see keywords shift in and out of the top-priced list. It suggests the industry has begun to mature.

The report also lists the top 25 U.S. advertisers by search engine. Among the top in alphabetical order are Amazon.com, Ask.com, Att.com, eBay.com, Google.com, Priceline.com and more. Companies come and go from this list each quarter, Stokes says. Travel companies seem to dominate in the first quarter, replaced in the fourth quarter by retail.

The study suggests that search engines have differentiated themselves in advertisers' minds. On Google, AdGooroo saw new entrants among branded retailers, such as Wal-mart Stores, eBay and Nordstrom. Yahoo's less expensive CPC prices lured several branded comparison shopping engines, including Expedia, LowFares, BookingBuddy, and Calibex.

Bing primarily picked up unbranded comparison engines, such as Nextag, k8yel.com, bestcompare.net, shopwhiz.net, and underpay.biz. The report states: "many of the top advertisers appear to be rebranded variations of the same site, suggesting that Bing is being used as an inexpensive marketing sandbox."

In September, the search engines served up on average between five and six ads per keyword. In the United States, Google moved to 5.45 in September 2009 -- up from 3.06 in the year-ago month. Yahoo dropped to 5.35 from 7.53; and Bing, 3.10, from 5.12, respectively.

It appears that the search engine relaxed some of the quality controls to let more advertisers back on the page, Stokes explains. "During the last year the search engines tried to figure out the optimum tradeoff between ads shown and revenue gained," he says. "In 2007, they thought dialing back the number of ads shown would produce higher click-through rates."

Stokes also points to consolidation in the paid search industry in the coming quarter as the industry continues to mature. Paid search has evolved less rapidly in the past two years, which has made it easier for large advertisers to adjust and adapt to the technology. Companies are throwing in more ad dollars to fewer companies. Budgets could move from the agencies back to the advertisers who have mastered paid search strategies.

4 comments about "Report: Top Keyword Price Nears $100 Per Click".
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  1. Richard Stokes from AdGooroo, LLC, October 15, 2009 at 10:35 a.m.

    Laurie - great article, thank you for the coverage! The research report can be downloaded at:

    http://www.adgooroo.com/adgooroo_research_library.php

  2. Privacy Dude from Self, October 15, 2009 at 11:20 a.m.

    For those who don't get click fraud, think about the instant case. I am in no way ascribing malicious intent here, but do we not think that publishing this article might have motivated in the area of 100 non-ill, MediaPost recipients to click/search on "mesothelioma"? Therefore, this one article just made Google $10,000! If the article had been in the WSJ, that number could easily have been 1,000 clicks/$100,000. Those are essentially random people; how would an algorithm strip them without knowing WHO they are?
    $100 is real money (as is almost any whole number). It is tough to think of a company that wouldn't like to take $100 out of its competitor's bank account at a cost to them of an index finger flex even if they don't hire the Russian mob to do it for them!

  3. Amy Fanter from Odds On Promotions, October 15, 2009 at 12:55 p.m.

    I suppose trial lawyers have the money, but really, how can that possibly pay for itself?

  4. Darren Davis from Nero Inc., October 15, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

    Great article, but gotta say, this isn't really 'news'. I worked at GoTo/Overture back around the turn of the millenium, and we regularly saw 'mesothelioma' and various gambling-related terms getting 2-3 bidders in the $100/click neighborhood (when that was our maximum bid cap in the system.

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