Comscore weighs in on the topic of the week: Whether Comscore’s January report on Google’s paid clicks is a disaster. Comscore’s answer? No.
Comscore obviously doesn’t consider the possibility that its paid-click conclusion is wrong. Instead, it argues that the severe drop in January is the result of Google’s click-improvement programs. As we’ve argued, we believe these programs certainly contributed to the fall-off, but we continue to think the economy also likely played a role.
- Other search engines did not see a drop-off in paid clicks, and there is no obvious reason why Google would be more exposed to economic weakness than other search engines. [One not-obvious reason: Google has a higher percentage of small- and medium-sized advertisers)
- Google saw a decling paid click trend all through 2007.
- In the first three months of last year, Google saw both declining coverage ratio AND declining click ratio–so this is not the first time this has happened. Translation: This is not the mystery that some analysts think. When relevancy improves, it takes consumers fewer clicks to find what they’re looking for.
Comscore concludes that increasing revenue per click should allow Google to still post strong revenue growth in Q1. Not surprisingly, Comscore does not define “strong.”
Conclusion: This week, as analysts have rushed to check in with search engine marketers, we have heard reports of weakness in financial services, real-estate, and other categories. Athough Google’s click improvement programs are almost certainly contributing to the paid-click fall-off, it seems unlikely that they account for all of it. We therefore continue to view the Comscore report as supporting the theory that Google is exposed to economic weakness.