Google’s 20 Largest U.S. Search Advertisers of 2011

Over the past year Google has been doubling its efforts to improve its display, mobile, and brand advertising network. But how much money are they actually making off those compared to search advertising?

In 2010 Google brought in $29 billion, the majority of which (97 percent) was revenues from search advertising. But who is spending this money and what are they spending it on?

The reason it’s so hard to figure out who is spending what in search advertising is because you can’t really measure it on a cost-per-impression basis like everything else in this world. Advertisers bid on different keywords in real-time and the price depends on competition for a particular keyword, quality score, and a variety of other factors. Sure, we can guesstimate as to what the numbers will be, but it’s hard to be accurate.

“There is no perfect data source, so anything you get you also have to take with a grain of salt,” Kevin Lee, CEO of search marketing firm Didit told Advertising Age. Despite statements like this and many others, Kantar Media, a unit of ad giant WPP, is trying to figure out the exact numbers that the search giant is making.

Kantar began estimating Google’s search spending in the U.S. last spring, basing their numbers on keyword clicks, pricing, and impression data. AdAge reported that Kantar will begin including data from Bing, as well as other sources, next year.


The top spender is IAC/InterActiveCorp at more than $174 million. IAC owns,, Citysearch and several other companies that are all buying long-term non-used inventory from Google.

Other top players such as Amazon ($118 million), eBay ($70 million), and several car insurance agencies (State Farm, $54 million; Allstate, $50 million; Progressive, $46 million) invested several millions as well through the third quarter of this year on Google.

Microsoft, at just under $71 million and one of Google’s biggest rivals, is the sixth largest search advertiser on Google. Other notables include large travel sites Expedia ($92 million) and Priceline ($67 million). Experian Group was the fifth largest advertiser, spending more than $79 million.

What really caught my eye that I never would have thought about is how much telecoms AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint spend. They will likely combine for more than $300 million this year (estimating the fourth quarter). That’s a ton of money and a ton of clicks. Though we do have to keep in mind that AT&T also owns online companies like and other relevant sites.

Google owns 44 percent of the global advertising market. You may also be interested in “How Google Makes Its Billions: The 20 Most Expensive AdWords Keyword Categories.”

Below is an infographic, “Google: Behind the Numbers” from

Google Behind the Numbers

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