Choosing the right search engine for your paid search campaigns is an important decision, with many factors to consider. No longer is Google’s popular AdWords platform the only game in town. The other major paid search player, Yahoo! and Bing Ads, is something that many businesses are considering to bolster their paid search marketing efforts.
With choices come decisions. Read on for this week’s exclusive research article from Synapse: Choosing the Right Paid Search Platform.
Understanding the Search Engines
When choosing a search engine for PPC spend, it is important to consider the demographics of each search engine to ensure you will be targeting the correct users. Each search engine attracts a different type of user, each with a different purpose and intent. When looking at PPC advertising, you have 2 main platforms that you can advertise on: Adwords (Google) and YBN (Yahoo/Bing Network).
Before we jump in to the demographic data, we first need to understand the volume of search traffic each search engine receives. Below is a graphic that depicts the breakdown of search usage from the February 2013 comScore Search Share Report.
As the chart shows, Google gets the lion share of search traffic with 67.5% while Yahoo/Bing receives a 28.3% share. The shear volume of search share by Google is the reason why marketers typically focus our efforts on Google and the AdWords platform. Another interesting stat is that an average of 117 million users a month search for the term Google in the Bing search engine, so the true market share is actually less than it appears when you take this in to account. We will touch more on why this happens later as well.
Who Uses the Search Engines?
Now that we know Google gets a majority of search traffic, we now need to understand who is using each search engine. To better understand the demographics, we will look at 3 areas: age, income and household size. Since Yahoo and Bing share an advertising platform, we will look at them as one search engine below. All of the statistics presented come from a comScore report on search engine demographics.
The first area we will look at is the age of search engine users. YBN users tend to be older users -with the majority of their users being 45 and over. Google users tend to be younger, with their sweet spot being the 18-44 age group.
Next we will look at users by income. Google users tend to be more affluent, holding the largest share of users in the $75,000 – $99,999 and $100,000 or more ranges. YBN is more popular in the $25,000 – $39,999 and $40,000 – $59,999 income ranges.
The last stat we will look at is household size. YBN has the highest share of single-person and double-person households. Google has the highest share of 3+ person households. The age demographic does play in to these numbers because this does not take the question of children in to account. Since YBN tends to be an older audience, there could be a high level of empty nesters included in the single and double person households.
Understanding these demographics helps, but there are some other things to consider as well. Below are a few major differences to consider about each search engine.
All Search Engines Are Not Created Equal
Yahoo is a portal website that acts as a gateway to other content, such as email, weather, finance and news. This setup tends to lead users to specific data, versus them initializing unique searches. 57% of Yahoo users said that their primary reason for visiting the site is to access Yahoo Mail. Yahoo and Yahoo Mail are the oldest platforms out of the 3 major search engines, which means it still holds a stronger brand and tend to attract older internet users.
Bing tends to attract the less Internet-savvy user because of two factors. The first factor is that it is the default search engine used in Internet Explorer, which is the default browse that comes installed on all Windows based computers. The second reason is that Bing is the search engine used on MSN.com, which is the default homepage for Internet Explorer. In fact, 40% of users are not aware of the Bing brand; they are simply using it because it is the default search engine on their computer. Because of this, Bing users tend to be less savvy users and research shows that more simplistic searches are commonly performed on Bing.
The impact of these factors can be seen when you look at the earlier stat: there are 117 million monthly searches performed on Bing for the term Google. Users tend to open their default browser and then type in Google so that they can get to Google to perform a search. Bing is also more popular among older users because they tend to stick with the default browser and settings instead of using alternative browsers and search engines.
The Difference between AdWords and YNB Advertising
Now that we understand the user profiles of each search engine, we can look at what separates each network when it comes to PPC advertising. AdWords is the logical first choice for advertising because of the larger market share Google receives, putting your ads in front of more users. But there are some benefits of YBN to take in to account if the demographic matches your target audience.
YBN does offer a lower Average Cost Per Click (CPC) because there is less competition from advertisers. PPC advertising is a bid-based model, with the highest bidder receiving the highest position on the results page. When there is more competition, more people are bidding for the top spot, driving the bid prices up for that top spot. In a study performed by AdGooroo, only 42% of marketers that run ads through AdWords are running ads on YBN. Since there are less people advertising, there are less people competing for the top spot and driving the cost up.
Below is a chart that shows the average CPC from the AdGooroo study that analyzed AdWords versus YBN advertising across 6 vertical markets.
Another statistic to look at is the average Click Through Rate (CTR) of ads running on both networks. The CTR shows the percentage of clicks versus the amount of times the ad was seen by a user. In the same study from AdGooroo, AdWords has a much higher CTR, showing that users are more engaged with the paid ads in Google than YBN. When you combine the higher search volumes with the higher CTR, you can see that AdWords has the potential to bring in a higher level of traffic.
Below is a chart that shows the average CTR across the same vertical markets as above.
As you have learned, there are differences between search engines and the people that use them. When deciding where you want to direct your advertising dollar, it is most important to take the demographics in to account and make sure you are putting your ads in from of the right target audience. The ultimate goal of PPC advertising is to drive relevant traffic to your website that will perform a desired action (become a lead or result in a sale). In order to drive the relevant traffic, you have to make sure your ads are being placed in front of the correct audience.
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