For years the best known online auction portal in the world, eBay , has been spending a significant budget to advertise on the major Internet search engines. Recently the eBay Research Lab team published a study conducted in March 2012 on the impact of search engine ads on portal sales in which they claim that investment in SEM does not increase sales significantly And when it does, the cost of the ads / profit is not profitable for the company.

To conduct the study, eBay first stopped listing their pay-per-click ads on Yahoo and Bing while maintaining their Google Adwords campaigns to compare the results of the traffic derived by search engines to the portal and the impact on sales . In a second phase, they also canceled all ads on Google’s search engine in certain regions of the United States while maintaining them in others that would serve to compare the impact on sales.

Is cancellation of campaigns it was done first for brand searches (when the user searched for the term “eBay”) and then for all generic keywords. In the first case, it was to be expected that the traffic would continue to reach the web even though there were no paid links in the search engine, because when a user searches for the brand the logical thing is that it appears in the first position in the organic results, giving quick access the user to the web they were looking for. What those responsible for the study did not expect is that once the SEM campaigns for generic searches were removed, the impact on sales was minimal , as they verified after the experiment.

The authors of the published study point to this low profitability of search engine ads is not played for other types of companies with a different business model and brands that are less recognized by users, but they do encourage reflection on whether those responsible for marketing are really investing too much budget in SEM.

On the other hand, some search engine marketing experts have pointed out that the low profitability of eBay ads on Google is due to their poor quality , with a strategy in which the company paid to show identical advertising for a large variability of terms . These searches in which the user was encouraged to buy on eBay include some not related to items that can be purchased such as “love”, “marriage” or “babies”.

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