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BizReport : Search Marketing : May 13, 2009

Hitwise: Paid search sinks fast

Many online marketers are turning to paid search to help them through the recent economic downturn, but a new report from Hitwise may put a damper on that move. Researchers tracking paid search for the month leading up to May 9 found that paid search declined by 26% overall.

by Kristina Knight

For the insurance category, paid search showed a decline of 22% with Retail 500 sinking 20% and the travel category falling 25%. While some marketers have pushed larger portions of their budgets online, many have culled all areas of advertising until the worst of the slump is over.

"Consistently, brand name terms (such as "travelocity", "orbitz" and "walmart" saw a sharp decrease year over year in the share of paid clicks. For example, 35.75% of clicks on searches for "orbitz" were on paid listings in the four weeks to May 9, 2009," writes analyst Heather Hopkins on the Hitwise blog. "Referrals from search engines continue to climb but the proportion of clicks going to sponsored or paid listings is decreasing. This is no doubt a result of cutbacks in marketing spend due to the recession."

Another factor could be the ever-evolving consumer base. As consumers figured out which listings are paid and which are organic, many choose the more organic listing. Rather than clicking through to the Orbitz travel website after searching travel information, consumers may be more apt to click on links to the desired destination point.

Hitwise also reports that Google continues to have a solid lead in the search engine race. In April the search giant accounted for 72.7% of search queries while competitors Yahoo (16% of queries) and MSN (5.6% of search queries) fell year over year.

Tags: Hitwise, paid clicks, paid search, search marketing, search queries

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