Paid Ads: Can you Afford Not To?

Monday, April 16th, 2012
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It is widely known that search engine rankings are critical to the success of most online businesses. A great deal of time and resources can be spent to achieve favorable organic results; however what may come as a surprise to some is that this should not preclude merchants from investing in paid ads.  Recent studies have shown that organic listings and paid ads share more of a relationship than previously thought. In fact, Google deduces that 89% of the clicks from search ads are incremental. In other words, almost 9 out of 10 of the visitors going to an advertiser’s site from paid ads are not substituted by organic clicks when the ads are suspended.* This figure becomes more reasonable when you consider that paid search ads appear with an associated organic search result on the page only 19% of the time.*

What’s probably most staggering about these figures is that even the best rankings are not immune to the negative effects of terminating ads. In fact for #1 organic results, 50% of ad clicks fail to be recovered by the organic listings alone once the ads are dropped.* So despite being tops for a given term organically, having a paid campaign is on average likely to fetch you twice as many visitors. In the chart below, several ranking positions are broken down by Google to demonstrate the corresponding drop-off rate when ads are discontinued.


* Chan, David. Van Alstine, Lizzy. (2012, March 27).
Impact of Organic Ranking on Ad Click Incrementality. Retrieved April 13, 2012, from

Chris is a Senior Account Executive at Nexternal and has been with the company since 2005. Before joining Nexternal he worked in the cloud-based educational software industry. Chris enjoys establishing new relationships with online merchants and working closely with those clients as they grow.