How Concentrated is Search Click Activity?

March 17, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Europe & Middle East | Paid Search | Search Engine Optimization | Telecom | UK

Experian-Concentration-Search-Clicks-Mar2014New pieces of research separately released by Experian Marketing Services and the Festival of Media Global shed some light on the concentration of search click activity, with some intriguing results. Based on an analysis of activity on PCs only, Experian’s latest Digital Marketer Report [download page] suggest that clicks are more highly concentrated for organic than paid search, though AdGooroo data indicates that the vast majority of paid search activity is in fact concentrated in the hands of a small group of advertisers.

Looking first at Experian’s findings, the data reveals that:

  • The top 10 websites captured 24.2% of total (organic and paid) search clicks in Q4 2013, up from 23.5% a year earlier;
  • The top 50 websites captured about one-third (32.2%) of search clicks, mostly unchanged from the year-earlier period; and
  • The top 10,000 websites captured 73.9% of search clicks, down slightly from 74.9% in Q4 2012.

That suggests that for the most part, concentration of search clicks has remained unchanged over the past year or so.

Narrowing the analysis to the top 5 websites, Experian reveals that collectively they captured roughly 1 in 5 clicks in Q4 2013, with some variation from the year earlier:

  • Facebook (7.9% share of clicks in Q4 2013, down from 8.5% in Q4 2012);
  • YouTube (6.6%, up from 5.6%);
  • Wikipedia (2.8%, up from 2.6%);
  • Yahoo! (1.8%, down from 2%); and
  • Amazon.com (1.3%, down from 1.4%).

Moving to paid search, Experian finds that concentration of clicks has eased, which it attributes to “the number of devices and channels available for consumers.” Specifically:

  • The top 10 websites captured 11.7% of paid search clicks in Q4 2013, down from 16% a year earlier;
  • The top 50 websites captured 22.8% of paid search clicks, down from 30.2%; and
  • The top 1,000 websites captured 55.5% of search clicks, down from 64.1% in Q4 2012.

Experian-Concentration-Paid-Search-Clicks-Mar2014
During Q4 2013, the top 5 websites capturing paid search clicks, according to Experian, were:

  • Amazon.com (4.4%);
  • YouTube (2.3%);
  • YellowPages.com (0.8%);
  • BestBuy (0.7%); and
  • The Home Depot (0.6%).

Unlike the top 5 websites for total search (which captured 20.4% of clicks), the top 5 for paid search (which captured 8.8% share of clicks) changed from last year. Amazon.com remained the top website (up from 4.2% share of clicks in Q4 2012), while Best Buy was the only other to remain in the top 5, despite dropping from more than 1% share of clicks a year earlier. New entrants YouTube, YellowPages.com and The Home Depot bumped eBay, eHow and Yahoo! Shopping out of the top 5.

While the Experian study measured advertisers in absolute volume, a new study released by the Festival of Media Global and Kantar Media tracks paid search click activity on the basis of percentage of advertisers – finding a remarkable amount of concentration.

In fact, based on an analysis of search advertising activity in 10 different business categories on Google AdWords in the US, UK and France during January 2014, the data shows that the top 1% of advertisers accounted for an average 80% of estimated paid search clicks. In the US, activity was most highly concentrated in wireless and phone services, where the top 1% of advertisers garnered an estimated 89% of search clicks.

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