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E-Commerce Sites Dominate Paid Search Ads

comScore released a study on the relationship between paid search marketing and retail e-commerce. The study revealed that e-commerce sites are the most frequent users of search engine marketing, with each of the top ten search engine marketers being either retail or comparison shopping sites.

In March, nearly 20 billion sponsored links were served to U.S. Internet users from the top search engines, with eBay.com leading the charge as the top search engine marketer with 802 million sponsored link exposures.

In March, paid search activity in the U.S. generated nearly 20 billion total sponsored link exposures. The top ten paid search advertisers, generating 16 percent of all sponsored links, were all retail or comparison shopping sites. Again, eBay.com led with 802 million sponsored link exposures (4.1 percent), followed by Smarter.com with 366 million (1.9 percent), and Shopping.com with 357 million (1.8 percent).

"It's clear that retail e-commerce sites are the most aggressive in using sponsored search to drive traffic to their sites," commented James Lamberti, senior vice president of comScore Search Solutions. "The top ten sites generating sponsored links -- all of which are retail or comparison shopping sites -- account for about one out of every six sponsored links served to U.S. Internet users. Given that retail e-commerce is now a $100 billion a year industry, it's not surprising that top online retailers are willing to bid for premium placement at the major search engines."

comScore also studied the referral activity by the top search engines in directing click-thrus to retail sites. Google Web Search, which accounted for 57.3 percent of all click-thrus, directed 53.8 percent of the click-thrus to retail sites. Yahoo! Web Search directed 27.2 percent of click-thrus to retail sites, followed by MSN Web Search (10.4 percent), AOL Search (5.8 percent), and Ask.com (1.6 percent).

Though accounting for a smaller share of total click-thrus than Google and Yahoo!, both MSN and AOL generated more than their fair share of click-thrus to retail sites. Specifically, MSN Web Search was 17 percent more likely than expected to direct searchers to retail sites, while AOL Search was 20 percent more likely.

Added Mr. Lamberti: "Search marketers need to understand the dynamics of their industry with respect to where their click-thrus originate, as certain search engines could have stronger performance relative to the overall search market."

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