Keyword Prices Rise Again, But Only Slightly

The Keyword Price Index from Fathom Online for December showed a 2 percent rise from last month, the smallest month-to-month change since the index began in September. The average keyword price rose from $1.66 in November to only $1.70 in December. The chart below gives a per category breakdown:


Dec. 2004

Change From Last Month

Percent Change





Consumer Services
























Consumer Retail








The only category to see a drop was consumer retail, a decrease of 3 percent over last month. Previously, this category had seen double-digit month-to-month increases.

Fathom attributes the decrease -- which seems odd in the middle of a busy consumer shopping month -- to the shorter retail cycle for online merchants:

"The online market buying season ends earlier because of the shipping window," said Chris Churchill, Fathom's CEO, in a release with the stats. "eTailors begin tapering off the keyword buying starting December 10th because they are facing fulfillment and shipping problems?a lot of business in too short a time. Similarly, online starts a month earlier (before Thanksgiving) because consumers are taking into account the shipping time. So it all makes sense and is actually a longer buying season for eTailors then for brick and mortar."

In other changes, the automotive and broadband categories saw their first month-to-month rises since the index began, while the mortgage and consumer services categories had their third consecutive month of declines.

FYI, I calculate a 2.6 percent rise from last month, which would round to 3 percent. Fathom cites 2 percent, so I'm going with that. The difference is likely due to rounding of the prices they report publicly. Working from rounded figures can produce such small discrepancies.

Past coverage of Fathom KPI releases can be found below:

Search Engine Watch members also have access to the Stats and Search Ads: Prices categories of Search Topics that recap stories on this topic over the years.