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Stephen Logan

Google AdWords Leak Highlights Big Spending Brands

6th Sep 2010 Paid Search, Google AdWords 3 minutes to read

AT&T lead the way as the lid is lifted on the biggest spending brands on Google AdWords in the U.S.

It’s an expensive business ensuring blanket visibility across all media platforms. Now, thanks to a leaked internal document, we know exactly how expensive it has been for top brands to achieve this on Google AdWords for U.S. advertisers.

Acquired by AdAge, the secret report has a full list of the highest spenders for the month of June [see: What Big Brands Are Spending on Google | AdAge]. AT&T were the clear leaders, shelling out an eye-watering $8.08 million. Others in the top 10 included Expedia, Amazon, eBay and BP.

In total there were 47 advertisers contributing over $1 million to the Google coffers during the month. Not exactly small fry. 1,356 others were also spending between $10,000 and $100,000, showing the sheer size and breadth of investment that is currently going on in PPC.

Avoiding the obvious questions about how this particular document got into the hands of AdAge, this is an intriguing insight into online spend. These particular figures aren’t necessarily reflections on general trends though. For example BP’s $3.59 investment represents a full 6,300 per cent increase on their average monthly spend. This was buoyed by their choice to invest in PPC advertising to manage their online reputation during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill fiasco [see: BP and BA Using Pay per Click Advertising for PR].

Similarly, AT&T would have been in full swing advertising the iPhone 4, for which they have the exclusive supplier rights in America. However, with perhaps BP aside, the interest in these figures isn’t so much around who is spending the money, but more on the level of investment itself.

Major Brands Taking Paid Search Seriously

The fact that the top 10 advertisers are investing over $2 million each suggests that they take Paid Search extremely seriously. Growth at the lower levels along with the omission of some other major online player from the leading pack also suggests that this is a platform that will continue major expansion.

Whilst throwing money at Google AdWords doesn’t guarantee a high ROI, it does get exposure. In the case of BP it wasn’t their product that they were selling but the brand. It was purely PR. With search engines attracting so many visits and holding so much on their SERPs, domination is as challenging as it can be rewarding.

For a few extra cents Amazon can ensure that they are the first advert people see when they search for a product. This can not only lead to a single sale, but help develop repeat custom. An investment in visibility now can provide long-term benefits.

Using the Strength of Google for Branding

We all know that Google is a money-making juggernaut (generative around $23 billion of global revenue each year) and AdWords is a key factor in that. But as is reported by AdAge, the top 10 advertisers contributed only 5% of the overall revenue in the U.S. market – that being a mere $44.6 million. So clearly they aren’t over-reliant on income from Paid Search.

Companies on the list might be slightly miffed at having their advertising spend shared with the world; however this should serve as a reminder to those who aren’t. If your competitor is spending $2 million+ on advertising then maybe it’s time to take action. This isn’t just temporary profligacy (BP aside), it’s concerted investment which is clearly driving results.

Not all businesses have millions or even thousands to throw around though. But the Paid Search model isn’t the exclusive domain of the rich. It’s a highly targeted and hugely flexible advertising format. You can target just one key phrase or hundreds, it’s entirely up to you and your budget constraints.

Whatever your thoughts on Google and handing money over to them are, PPC on AdWords is about extending your SERPs influence beyond organic search. It’s evident popularity is testament to its effectiveness.

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