Biggest spenders on Google AdWords: Amazon tops the list in US

07/10/2014

With Amazon poised to launch a major contender to AdWords, it’s ironic that the ecommerce giant is actually the biggest spender on Google’s online ad platform, according to new research.

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Amazon spent $157.7 million on Google US search ads in 2013, by far the most by any company, according to Ad Age DataCenter's first ranking based on data from AdGooroo, a Kantar Media company focused on search marketing.

The study found that overall, retailer ad spend allocated to desktop text ads on Google AdWords has shrunk as budgets shift to product listing ads and mobile.

Google's top 25 US search-ad buyers alone spent $1.34 billion last year, and in total US spent $2 billion on desktop text ads last year, down from $2.3 billion in 2012.

The “Top Retailers in Search Report“ also found that mass retailers dominated the retail category, spending $553 million in 2013.

Retailers Amazon, Walmart and Target lead spend

Amazon does not participate in the Google Shopping ad program in which it would be required to share its mountain of product data with the Google, its rival in commerce search.
Amazon is a big spender on search in general. In July 2014, the company spent nearly $19.5 million on Google search ads and $1.2 million on Microsoft Corp.'s Bing search ads.

Amazon racked up 6.5 billion impressions, more than double that of Walmart, which overtook Target to become the second biggest mass retailer advertiser in 2013.

The ranking pegs Walmart as Google’s ninth biggest advertiser on desktop text ads last year and Target at number 20.

Sears, Home Depot, Best Buy and Macy’s were the other retailers among to make the top 25 list of advertisers.

View the top categories for AdWords below:

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Lack of brands

The search-spending list appears to be short on brand advertisers. In recent years, Google has tried to attract more brand budgets to spur ad revenue as savvy direct-response advertisers have largely fixed their spend levels in place. YouTube and display ads have been at the center of Google's brand push, but last year the company also tested big banner-like images appended to search ads. Google canceled that test months later.

Despite Google's and other companies' efforts, search and digital advertising remain the domain of direct-response advertisers. Direct-response advertising accounted for 58.4% of U.S. digital-ad spending in 2013, according to eMarketer estimates, and that's expected to tick up this year to 59.1%.

Marketers in the four top-spending digital advertiser categories -- retail, financial services, auto and telecom -- spend the majority of their U.S. digital-ad budgets on direct-response ads, eMarketer found. Seventeen of the 25 companies on the AdGooroo list are brands or -- in cases such as Berkshire Hathaway, parent of Geico -- own brands that fall into one of those four groups.

The ranking is based on AdGooroo data for desktop search ads on Google's properties. Figures do not include mobile search ads or search ads shown on third-party properties that use Google as their sites' search engine.

The ranking groups various brands by parent company. For example, Amazon's spending figures include the e-commerce site's Google search spending as well as spending by other Amazon-owned companies like Zappos and Diapers.com.

View the full report here

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