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eBay report says that Google Keyword advertising is a waste of money

by Matt O'Brien on Mar 14, 2014

A recent study undertaken by eBay has claimed “most of the money spent buying up search terms was a waste of time and had little effect on sales,” having conducted a range of experiments with their own paid search marketing over the past 12 month.

While this report is interesting, it solely focuses on eBay, one of the biggest and best known internet brands, limiting its relevance to the wider paid search marketplace.

The report looks at the impact of brand keyword bidding and also bidding against non-branded keywords and was able to draw conclusions that non-branded keywords had little effect on sales.

Again, applying this to the wider paid search marketplace could be tricky. It is worth remembering that in many markets eBay is the single largest site of its kind, meaning that when a user is looking to visit an online auction website, it is probably the first place they will go. Are there any savvy web users out there who haven’t heard of eBay?

In markets without a single dominant brand, and where consumers shop around and research their specific product choices, there is a strong argument for the use of non-brand keywords to drive new customer visits and acquisitions.

Looking at the question of wasted budgets, through our own paid search audits we often discover that clients waste, at times a significant proportion of their paid search budget on irrelevant keywords and campaigns that deliver no sales. However, this doesn’t mean that profitable sales are being delivered from non-brand keyword, more likely that campaigns are not being given the same level of scrutiny and attention that they need. Blaming the medium for the way that people use it, would be like blaming car manufacturers when motorists exceed the speed limit.

It is the advertisers responsibility to ensure that they properly manage their paid search spend and are able to measure and evaluate it, to ensure that their campaigns are delivering a positive return, both from branded and non-branded keywords. Undertaking an independent audit of your paid search activity is one way to do this.

Having worked with start up businesses with no online brand searches, we are able to vouch that when carried out correctly, profitable sales can be achieved from non-brand keywords and businesses can be built. It just takes care, attention and expertise.

If you feel that your campaign might be wasting budget, or that you are concerned that you are not getting enough new customer acquisitions from your non-branded keywords, it might be time for an independent, unbiased second opinion.


For those wanting to read the report in more detail it can be found here

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