March 2, 2006, 12:00 AM

A new PPC Conversion Index ranks Google, Yahoo, and other search engines

The cost of paid search has some marketers looking elsewhere. A new performance index from offers another approach: comparative data to help improve returns on search spending.


Some marketers are complaining that paid search is too expensive, and cost is causing a few to bail out of paid search marketing altogether. That makes especially timely the launch of search marketing company’s new Conversion Index, which compares the performance of search at different publisher segments within Yahoo, Google and MSN.

The index isolates and compares conversion and volume differences between the segments of top search engines’ publisher networks, revealing the relationships between engines’ ad networks-such as Google and Yahoo-and the publishers that syndicate those search results-such as AOL and, formerly Ask Jeeves.

But providing data to help drive better returns from paid search isn’t the only reason Did-it is publishing the new index, says vice president of technology Craig Wood. “We do this for our clients and we have been looking at this for a long time,” he says of the new index, which this week released data from its first seven months. “The number of players in the marketplace and having more options with MSN coming on now as a third major engine-it’s all of these factors put together.”

The data, spanning tens of million of search-influenced transactions across client campaigns, is weighted by comScore Media Metrix usage data and Did-it click and conversion data. Did-it compares the normalized data, reflecting activity across a broad spectrum of marketers and industries, to a stock market index.

Among key findings from initial data released is that the Google network has ranked number one in conversion volume each month since the index began, but that Google distribution partner AOL consistently beat conversion rates at Google and Yahoo themselves. Another finding is that MSN’s conversion rate score has improved dramatically within the past several months, beating that of AOL for the first time in December 2005.

Wood says a goal of creating the index and publishing data from it is to demonstrate that within the different engines are different distribution partners for the ads, each representing a different demographic and a different conversion rate. Conversion volume is another critical part of the index, he adds, noting that though some syndication partners within each network have higher conversion than others, playing in the higher-volume markets is a key to success in search.

“We hope that by launching the Conversion Index, we can help focus the industry conversation on improving returns from one of the world’s most powerful forms of media,” notes Kevin Lee, executive chairman of Did-it. Says Wood, “Some are abandoning search and that concerns us. That`s just not buying smart. I would love for a takeaway from the index to be, ‘Here’s a way to rethink my campaign.’”


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