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Google click slump means trouble? get real…

Google endured a second straight month of poor growth in paid search clicks, and that has brought out the usual scaremongers (the same that were predicting the end of social networks earlier this year when traffic growth plateaued) are saying it’s bad news for the market and showing that fears of a recession have truly hit online revenues.

Lets take a look at the facts:

1. The actual figures from Comscore show a 3% year-on-year rise during February in paid search clicks. The slowdown comes after Google began implementing a new system to cut down accidental clicks on paid search listings

2. Google’s move to stamp out irrelevant clicks is good news for the long term as it will increase the relevance of paid search and make it an even more efficient format.

So is the (non)recession having an impact? Well, traditionally in a time of recession marketing spend gets cut back to tried and tested methods that deliver strong and measurable ROI, such as direct marketing. Search marketing falls into that same category and certainly many of the people I’ve spoken to in the first quarter of this year can see certain aspects of their budgets being cut if times get tighter, but search isn’t one of them.

But beyond what Google has done, and all the scaremongering, there are still some changes afoot. Paid search costs continue to inflate and speaking to some search marketing firms, they are beginning to find – and some scared to find – that clients are looking more seriously at natural search, and increasing their investment in search engine optimisation.

There is an ongoing threat to the paid search market – not to its existence, but to the way it’s used – there has for some time been a growing school of thought that natural search delivers better quality leads to your site and Google’s latest moves can be seen, in part at least to be a clear attempt to arrest that movement and safeguard the quality of clicks on paid search. The short-term blip is nothing to worry about – a blip is all it is – and if there is a recession, it’s not search that should be worried about budgets.


ITV plugs in with Bebo, but digitally still dancing on ice
March 10, 2008, 12:53 pm
Filed under: BBC, Bebo, Friends Reunited, iPlayer, ITV, online TV, social media, TV | Tags: , , , , ,

Holly WilloughbyBeleaguered British broadcaster ITV is peddling fast to catch up with the rest of the digital world by announcing a deal this morning with Bebo to show its ITV2 programming on the social network. The move comes as ITV struggles with a decline in global content revenues and Michael Grade is increasingly waking up to online as the new distribution channel, but anything ITV has produced in terms of its online video player thus far lags so far behind rival BBC’s iPlayer.

The Bebo deal is interesting on a number of fronts – it’s cheap and arguably quick to deploy as a bandage measure to help stem ITV’s hemorrhaging younger viewers – an increasing number of which are getting all the broadcast content they want online and on-demand. Secondly, given that ITV owns Friends Reunited, you have to ask why it chose someone else’s social network as a digital route to market… 

Despite insisting he is ahead of where he expected to be, ITV’s shares have fallen more than 20 per cent since the start of the year as Michael Grade struggles to turn the corporation’s fortunes around, and to clearly articulate the corporation’s digital strategy. Let’s hope when it is finally revealed it is not ‘digital on ice’… and in the meantime Holly Willoughby can continue to keep ITV’s weekend end up, but for how much longer?