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I regularly do training sessions on search marketing. Sometimes I pose a question to the audience, “How many of you never click on paid search ads?” Invariably, about half of the audience raises their hands. Maybe you would raise your hand to answer such a question yourself. But I suspect that many of those with their hands up were wrong. Because various estimates say that between 20 percent and 30 percent of all search clicks are on those very ads.

Think about it. Almost every nickel that Google makes comes from paid search. Someone is clicking on those ads–probably many of those people who have their hands up. What accounts for that?

Sure, some people have fat fingers on there phones, and they click on ads by mistake. But if half of all searchers don’t click on ads ever, how could Google be making all this money? OK, maybe my polls have a sampling error, because my marketing audiences are more savvy than the average searcher. But that’s not what I think the reason is.

I think it is how we think about advertising. We’ve all grown up around advertising and we’ve learned over and over again that advertising is pointless. Advertising is irrelevant. Advertising is annoying.

And if you clicked on it, clearly it wasn’t pointless, irrelevant, and annoying. So, it must not have been advertising, right? I think that is the answer–searchers believe that they are clicking on organic results when the results are that relevant. So, Google is cashing the check, but it is because they’ve orchestrated such spot-on results.

Search ads will always be more relevant than other ads, simply because they are based on the searcher’s keywords. But it still surprises me how many people are clicking on the ads who have no idea they are doing so.


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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, a leading social consultancy. Mike is the author of two books on digital marketing, an instructor at several leading universities, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research.

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