Searchmetrics’ Study – Google Shopping & AdWords: The 10 Most Important Players

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A new study released today by the search and content optimization company, Searchmetrics, reveals that ebay.com is the most visible website in Google Shopping PLAs (Product Listing Ads) displayed in Google.com searches while Amazon is the most visible in Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

To produce “Google Shopping & AdWords: The 10 Most Important Players,” Searchmetrics analyzed the search results for millions of keywords throughout 2014 to rank the top ten websites displayed in the two Google ad formats. The rankings were drawn up according to a PLA Visibility score and a PPC Visibility score* which are a measure of how frequently and prominently the sites’ ads appear within search results.

Ebay.com took the top spot in the ranking of top sites in Google Shopping PLAs with a PLA visibility score of 7,591,817 (see table below). Walmart.com and rakuten.com came second and third in the list, which was dominated by retail and e-commerce bands.

Top Ten Most Visible Sites In Google Shopping PLAs

Advertiser Name ……………….PLA Visibility

1. ebay.com …………………. 7,591,817

2. walmart.com ……………… 6,198,399

3. rakuten.com ……………… 2,289,424

4. macys.com ……………….. 1,486,746

5. etsy.com ………………….. 1,267,870

6. bhphotovideo.com ……… 864,901

7. swansonvitamins.com …. 437,159

8. bizrate.com ……………… 433,958

9. vitacost.com ……………… 322,339

10. soap.com …………………. 262,688

In the list of top sites displayed through AdWords, Amazon.com’s PPC visibility score of 9,381,597 made it the clear leader. The list was made up of a mix of retail brands and search engines such as wow.com and ask.com (see table below).

Top Ten Most Visible Sites In AdWords PPC Advertising


Advertiser ……………… PPC Visibility

1. amazon.com ……. 9,381,597

2. wow.com …………. 6,577,132

3. ask.com …………. 6,366,023

4. webcrawler.com … 3,013,297

5. about.com ……….. 1,769,772

6. local.com ………… 1,482,599

7. target.com ………. 1,430,896

8. booking.com …….. 1,400,133

9. zappos.com ……… 1,387,534

10. bestbuy.com ……… 1,289,807

AdWords PPC ads, Google’s largest source of revenue, are primarily text-based ads targeted at specific keywords. PLAs are the photo-based ads that are displayed in a Google Shopping box at the top and to the side of the search results when consumers run product related searches.

PLAs, which include a product image, name and price together along with a link to the reseller, became the default way for appearing in Google Shopping in 2013. A Searchmetrics study released earlier this year indicates that PLAs have experienced rapid adoption, with the number of ads displayed growing by +118% during 2014 alone.

AdWords ads, which have been around for many years, are very widely used and are not growing as rapidly as the relatively new PLA. Studies show that PLAs have a slightly higher click-through rate than AdWords ads for shopping related searches, but also cost slightly more with a higher cost-per-click.

They deliver good value as Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics’ founder and CTO, explains: “PLAs can pay off for retail advertisers, because the market is still relatively cheap at the moment, mainly due to the higher CTR com­pared with AdWords ads. You would expect more people to click on a PLA because they include an image, which stands out on the search results page. They are also likely to be more effective for retailers because Google shows them when it deems that a person is showing purchase intent – in other words they are performing product related searches.”

*About the study

Searchmetrics analyzes the search results for millions of keywords every week. Throughout 2014 the company tracked the appearance in search results of AdWords ads and Google Shopping PLAs and used this information to calculate a PPC Visibility score and PLA Visibility score for all the sites that appeared most frequently in the two ad formats. These scores were used to develop the lists of top ten most visible sites in AdWords PPC advertising and the top ten most visible sites in Google Shopping PLAs.

The PPC Visibility score used in the study are based on several relevant parameters, including:

· The number of times a domain appeared in the PPC ads across the keyword set throughout 2014

· Its prominence within those PPC results (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score)

· The competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score)

· The SERP click-through-rates (CTRs), (the probability of a result being clicked according to its position on the search engine results page)

The PLA Visibility scores used in the study are based on the number of times a domain appeared in Google Product Listing Ads throughout 2014. The PLA visibility scores were calculated specifically for this study – they are not available to customers who use Searchmetrics’ software.

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