Impact of Ranking of Organic Search Results on the Incrementality of Search Ads

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Feb 2012 Search

Our Search Ads Pause study in 2011 found that when search ads are turned off, clicks from organic results don't make up for lost traffic - not by a long shot. In fact, 89% of visits to an advertiser's site from search ads were incremental to those from organic results. Here, we dug deeper into the data, examining the relationship between incrementality of the ad clicks (IAC) and the ranking of organic results. We found several interesting trends. For example, 66% of ad clicks occur when there's no search result at all. And even when advertisers appear in the top ranked organic slot, half of ad clicks are still incremental.

Google ran a follow-up analysis to the search ad pause study from 2011. Looking across 390 Search Ads Pause studies, we've found that there is limited opportunity for clicks from organic search results to substitute for ad clicks when the ads are turned off. Overall we found:

  • 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks occur in the absence of an associated organic result on the first page of search results. All ad clicks in these situations are incremental.
  • On average, for advertisers who appear in the top rank organic slot, 50% of ad clicks are incremental. This means that half of all ad clicks are not replaced by organic clicks when search ads are paused.
  • For advertisers whose organic search results are in the 2nd to 4th position, 81% of ad clicks are incremental. For advertisers appearing in organic position of 5 or lower, 96% of ad clicks are incremental.
Search Ads Pause Studies