Retail Boosts Search Spend in Efficient Frontier’s Q4 2009 Report

Tomorrow, Efficient Frontier releases their quarterly search report and we’ve got a sneak peek at the numbers.

Let’s dive in:

Search Spend

Google’s share rose to 74.5%, up from 73.9% in Q3 2009. Yahoo! lost 0.5% share, while Bing lost 0.2%.

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Broken down by sector:

  • Retail: Up 17% YOY
  • Travel: Down 20% YOY, driven by weak CPC
  • Finance: Up 2% YOY
  • Auto: Up 2% YOY

Google dominates Retail with 82.7% spend, but is not as powerful in Finance, with *just* 60.1% spend. Yahoo! is stronger in Finance at 35.2%. Bing’s strengths are Travel and Autos at 6.8% and 6.5% share respectively. In fact, Bing’s growth in the Travel sector was a whopping 80% over last year.

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Overall, the click-through-rate (CTR) was down 40% since Q4 2008. This is likely due to comparison shopping features being added to most of the search engines.

With the decline of the CTR, share becomes even more important.

  • Google’s share rose to 74.4%, reversing a downward trend since Bing’s launch.
  • Yahoo! lost 3.4% share since Q3, coming in at 21%.
  • Bing held steady, declining just 0.1% to 4.6% share.

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However, click volume was a different story. Google’s click volume grew by 38% and Bing grew by 7%. Yahoo!’s click volume dropped.


Impressions for retail queries increased by a whopping 90% over Q4 2008. Remember, more info is being included in the search results, so that explains the dichotomy between impressions and CTR.


Average transaction size was down 5% over last year, but up 5% over the last quarter. Ratio of orders per impression was down 30%, but keep in mind those in-SERP shopping features.


After analyzing the data, Efficient Frontiers offered the following predictions for the new year:

  • SEM spend will grow 15-20% in 2010.
  • Market competition should recover, spurring volume expansion with CPC.
  • Ad exchange development will continue to align with search
  • Bing is expected to grow 30% in 2010, giving them a 6-7% share of paid clicks.

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