Internetretailer.com recently highlighted the findings by two search engine marketing firms for Q4. One firm, Efficient Frontier, reported that its retail clients spent 17% more on search engine marketing in the fourth quarter of 2009 than in the same period a year earlier, as well as a 46% increase over the third quarter in 2009. While the other firm, SearchIgnite, revealed that its retail clients spent 12% more on paid search ads in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
Efficient Frontier also showed a 90% rise in retail-related search queries. Sales, however, did not show the same increase across the board. Click-through rates saw a 40% decline, while conversions-per-click stayed about the same. Unfortunately, orders per impression decreased 30%. The cost per click was also 9% less in the fourth quarter than the same quarter last year.
Some other noteworthy findings include:
- The average transaction size for orders coming from search engines was down roughly 5% year over year, but up about 5% compared to Q3 2009.
- Google captured the win in search ads, earning 74.4% of clicks, while Yahoo’s click share declined to 21% in Q4 from 24.4% in Q3. Bing captured 4.6% of clicks in Q4, a slight decrease from 4.7% in Q3.
- Google secured 74.5% of total search ad spending in Q4, up slightly from 73.9% in Q3. Yahoo lost only a small portion of spending, declining to 20.4% in Q4 from 20.9% in Q3, while Bing dropped to 5.1% in Q4 from 5.3% in Q3, according to Efficient Frontier.
While the numbers for Q4 appear lackluster, Efficient Frontier is anticipating a surge of 15%-20% in search ad spending for 2010. This forecast echoes other recent claims about the state of the economy, as well as what many anticipate to be a recovery for online advertising.