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Google Ad Clicks Up, Down and Flat in Feb., Depending on Who You Ask

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According to today's headlines, clicks on Google ads are dropping, flattening and experiencing a slowdown in growth - all at the same time! New comScore data is being reported and there are more angles on the numbers than there are flavors at Baskin Robbins. So who's right? Everyone is, to a point.

Here's the reported data:

* February 2008 clicks are up 3% to 515 million over February 2007
* February 2008 clicks are down 3% from January 2008.
* January 2008 clicks were down 7.5% from December 2007.

I contacted comScore's Andrew Lipsman for more details and to ask him if these declines were seasonal as opposed to sensational:

"We do not publicly release our paid click data, it is sent exclusively to clients. I can confirm the information you cited is accurate. It's fair to say that all things being equal, February will see sequential declines vs. January because it has fewer days. It is probably more important to look at the y/y trends with this data as opposed to sequential changes."

Certainly these numbers are not as impressive as we've seen for Google in recent years. But how much of this should be attributed directly to Google is uncertain. The broader economic slowdown combined with low consumer confidence is producing a slowdown in growth in many industries.

But Wall Street doesn't like uncertainty, and GOOG was down 11 points at the time of this post. Still, Google dominates the search engine market in the United States.

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