Archive for the ‘Ask’ Category

Bing Growing, Yahoo Steady - Search Engine Market Share Update

July 28th, 2010 by Richard Zwicky

It’s been almost seven months since I last provided insight into the search engine market shares based on click through activity. After holding relatively steady for months, this latest update shows Bing has grown by 2.0%. Perhaps most interestingly, it’s no longer growing at the expense of Yahoo, which was previously the case.

Here’s the raw numbers:

Google Yahoo Bing Other
September 7 78.68% 11.51% 6.80% 3.01%
September 14 78.35% 11.13% 6.50% 4.02%
September 21 77.43% 11.35% 7.11% 4.11%
September 28 77.65% 10.80% 7.27% 4.28%
October 4 77.78% 10.66% 7.23% 4.33%
October 12 77.78% 10.66% 7.21% 4.35%
October 18 77.89% 10.65% 7.29% 4.17%
October 25 77.83% 10.56% 7.56% 4.05%
November 1 77.75% 10.46% 7.66% 4.12%
November 8 77.96% 10.21% 7.75% 4.08%
November 15 77.60% 10.39% 7.59% 4.42%
November 22 77.59% 10.41% 7.67% 4.37%
December 22 78.43% 9.73% 7.86% 3.97%
Month of June 2010 75.93% 9.94% 9.82% 3.83%

Eightfold Logic collects data from a network of web sites distributed globally. The data used in this reports represents web sites distributed globally, accessed by searchers located in the U.S., and reflects click-through activity data.

Search Engine Market Shares 2007

March 16th, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

So I arrived at Search Engine Strategies New York today, and I was asked by a couple of people about search engine market shares. After pulling out the Ask numbers last week, I had all the data ready to go for the other engines. Remember, this data reflects the search referral data we’re seeing across the entire network of sites that Enquisite is tracking, so thousands of sites’ data contributed to these numbers. When I actually graphed the data, it looked quite interesting.

I had to break the data into two parts. In this first graph we see Yahoo have its customary summer spike, which generally seems to relate to the end of school. During the summer months students spend less time online, but when they go online it’s to fetch mail and the like. During this period, Yahoo! generally goes up in market share, as most students appear to use Yahoo Mail. Normally, we also see Google drop during this period.

What’s interesting is that MSN is slowly but surely gaining traction, and moving up. It’s gone from 2.9% in January 2007 to just over 5% at the end of January 2008. Still small, but almost 100% growth, and anyone in business know’s 100% growth does matter.

Meanwhile however, Yahoo’s actually losing market share, and at a greater rate than MSN’s growing.

Now take a look at what happens when we add Google to the mix.

Google’s actually over 80% of all search referral traffic we’re seeing across our network of sites. In fact, the data I’m looking at for March has Google reaching 83% of all search referrals we’re seeing. This data is culled from well over 250 million referrals in the last year.

So, is search getting more competitive? Not really. Is Microsoft buying Yahoo going to make much of a dent in Google’s lead? Nope. But (as Rand pointed out) if you look at their combined reach in the display ad business that’s a different matter.

Search Stats Update - Search Market Share -

March 11th, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

I haven’t made a Search Statistics update in a while. No excuses. Just haven’t. I’m going to rectify that now, and I’ll put up some more numbers later today or tomorrow.

With all the uncertainty around Ask, and a lot of people discussing how it’s looking like it’s dropping out of the race, I thought I should should post some numbers which reflect what we’re seeing for their share of the search marketplace over the last year and a bit. We used data representing more than 250 Million search referrals since Jan 1 2007.

2007-01 2.50%
2007-02 2.99%
2007-03 1.74%
2007-04 1.68%
2007-05 1.67%
2007-06 1.26%
2007-07 1.02%
2007-08 0.94%
2007-09 1.15%
2007-10 1.23%
2007-11 1.17%
2007-12 1.19%
2008-01 1.25%
2008-02 1.03%
2008-03 0.90%

If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear?

One-Click PPC Refund Service and Click Fraud

December 17th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

In my earlier post over the weekend, I used an analogy to explain what PPC Assurance is. Today, I’d like to expand on that thought and explain some of the extras included in (what we think is) our revolutionary paid-search advertising product. One of our user’s favorite features is the one click refund service for PPC (pay per click) advertisers.

PPC Assurance is more than the next step in the evolution of advertising verification services. Unlike the click fraud companies which garner lots of attention by selling fear, PPC Assurance provides you with resolution.

The product name “PPC Assurance” explains a major aspect of our service: Assurance; know what’s happening, and what you can do about it.

Present click fraud services are not assurance services. They attempt to discern whether or not the pattern of behavior of a visitor “seemed” normal. Some of them let you define the parameters of fraud. This is a poor methodology, because it allows for lots of “false positives.” These false positives are a big issue, because you’re essentially making false claims. They are a disservice to you, and to your ad network.

PPC Assurance does not use any subjective measurement techniques. In fact, we’ve ascertained that most of the real fraud that does occur arrives at your site without triggering JavaScript loggers and is thus invisible to most of the click fraud companies out there.

Realizing this, we consulted with the ad networks themselves and figured out a means to coordinate resolving this issue. Expect a major announcement on that front in January.

Here’s how PPC Assurance works. PPC Assurance examines your account configuration, and compares it to the actual traffic you’ve received. Using a simple and easy to understand graphical report, we identify what was good and what wasn’t, (charges for undesired / not good traffic). We also offer you a one-click refund claim submission for the errant clicks.

Many click fraud prevention companies count mistakes in campaign execution as click fraud. I’ve heard innumerable people say, “If my ad runs in China, and I only wanted traffic from Chicago, it must be fraud.” In reality, it’s not fraud. It’s a mistake. But it’s one you should not pay for, and we help ensure you won’t ever have to pay for such mistake clicks again. We’re the only company which provides this one click refund service.

As a search marketer, or even an independent businessperson who is running a PPC campaign, you don’t want to spend time monitoring and verifying every single click that you receive. You would like to know that you’re only paying for the traffic you wanted, and not for the traffic you didn’t. You don’t have time to manage this process but proper business practices require that you do so. PPC Assurance is designed for you.

Small business owners can’t afford to spend the time to verify your traffic. Until now, they have trusted the networks blindly, and wondering why their ROI is fluctuating. Articles in Businessweek, Forbes, Fortune and a myriad of other news sources discuss the impact of click fraud, making small business owners wonder about their own exposure. Unfortunately, “mistakes” - such as an ad targeting New York appearing in Delhi is really not click fraud, although it’s been classified as such. Now, you can minimize your exposure, and get your money back, without having to spend valuable work time monitoring the problem.

Search marketers are pressed for time with multiple accounts all needing support, advice, management, updates and reporting. The reporting tools used up until now cannot answer the simple questions relating to invalid click activity.

“I see traffic coming in from China, but my campaign was supposed to be in California: how did this happen, and did I pay for it??”

Now you’ll know, AND you’ll know if you paid for it or not. If you did end up paying for clicks you hadn’t asked for, press the “submit claim” button, and get the ad network to refund you for those clicks.

Having taken a unique approach to click-stream analysis, we are proud of our PPC Assurance product because it is the only PPC click protection service out there that fully strives to understand your traffic stream from a search technologists’ perspective. It is also the only product with an instant refund reporting option. It’s that simple.

SMX Stockholm - Cool Links Tool

November 5th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

I’ll post a bit more about SMX Stockholm later today or tomorrow. I really enjoyed the show, and the people, and I learned a bunch of new things.

One thing that’s time sensitive - Dixon Jones from Receptional posted access to their internal linking tool. It’ll only be available for two weeks (that might be two weeks from last Wednesday), so just until Nov 14 or 16. You’ve to to check it out. I’ve looked at a lot of links tools, and this really is worth looking at. It’s UK focused, so the “news” report will be skewed over there, but this is a great model for what any links tool should look like. Simple, clean, and easy to understand. Check it out.

Receptional Link Quality Checker

U: smx
P: smx

I’m not sure if Dixon’s firm simply uses this internally, or if it’s available to customers either through a subscriber model, or as part of a service package.

“Please note: if anyone seems to be automating queries it will be off in a flash.”

Hope you enjoy it!


Click Fraud in Forbes - A Perspective

September 25th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

Last week and again this week, Andy Greenberg from Forbes has written an article on Click Fraud by interviewing Shuman Ghosemajumder from Google and Tom Cuthbert from Click Forensics.

I hope that in future issues Forbes will interview representatives from Yahoo!, Microsoft, Ask, Looksmart, and other advertising networks, as well as representatives of other organizations dealing with click verification and click fraud. Although Shuman’s opinions on behalf of Google are extremely important, it would be a shame if other, equally valid commentary and opinion were not added to the debate. To represent just two organization’s opinions would be quite limiting for Forbes’ readers.

Although Google is the overwhelming leader in the space, they are not alone. Unfortunately, more often than not, when people start examining click fraud related issues, they focus in on Google. This is an error for more than one reason. The first is, Google’s not alone out there; more importantly, Google is the technology leader, and as such has dealt with more of the issues than their competitors. While Google does have a problem, their competitors are potentially worse off. In fact, our data indicates that Google’s referrals have less fraud than others.

People need to differentiate between ads displayed on Google’s search network, and Google’s content network. With our recently launched PPC Assurance service, we can see a clear distinction in patterns from the Content network v. the Search network.

PPC Assurance doesn’t specifically look at click fraud; it examines whether or not your ads displayed in accordance with the terms and conditions of your contract. eg: geo-targeting, day-parting, scheduling, and the like. It also uses sophisticated algorithms to detect suspicious click activity including erroneous page reloads. There are more problems in the content network than in the search network. Is it always “fraud”? NO! There are mistakes. To reach the milestones that Google does every month requires their network to serve out an average of over 50,000 ads per second, 24/7/365.

As an advertiser, you want to protect yourself from Click Fraud. You can help minimize your exposure by enabling various campaign settings. If you only sell your products or services within a limited territory, limit your ads to those territories. Certain times of the day, and days of the week convert better; focus your ads where they are the most effective. Also, run different ads on the search network than on the content network, and monitor the differences. There’s lots more you can, and should, do to limit your exposure to problems, and most importantly to improve your ROI. In our view most people don’t take the time to do the simple changes to target their campaigns, a serious mistake.

But here’s the corollary: the more campaign parameters you implement, the more opportunities you open up for mistakes to occur, and for you to be incorrectly charged from an undesired click. These incorrect clicks are not “click fraud” — they are errors in the execution of your campaign. You do want to catch these errors, and all the advertising networks, Google included, want to know when they happen. They can’t correct an issue if they don’t know that it’s happening.

Ironically, that was a point made in today’s article in

“Q. Are click-fraud auditors hamstrung in their efforts to assess click fraud accurately because they lack data that Google has, particularly click-through rates (the number of times an ad is clicked for each time it appears)?

A. Actually, we (analytics companies of all types) have access to several kinds of data that Google doesn’t have. Most importantly, we see what happens on an advertiser’s site when a click leaves Google’s page and goes to the landing page. We see how deep the clicker goes in the site and whether the click converts into a sale.”

All advertising network providers have this blind spot. They see a lot more traffic than any one of the analytics firms do. But, they don’t see any of the traffic once it leaves their network; thus, there is a weakness in their analysis for potential click fraud. The ad network providers simply can’t catch all the mistakes or the fraud out there. Analytics firms can see what’s going on within any of the sites they are providing service to. In our case that’s data from a few thousand sites, representing millions of pageviews per day. It allows us a significant insight into web user behavior within web sites. If a user from a specific IP address doesn’t behave normally, we could identify it. In fact, we just completed a group of patents that deal with abhorrent behavior, malware and click fraud. That’s for another day though.

On the question as to whether or not Google, or any of the providers should be more transparent with regards to identifying the means they use to sort out click fraud, I believe they are operating in good faith. The ad networks’ standard response is to refuse to disclose methodologies for fear of tipping off fraudsters, which would only make it easier for them to figure out an alternate means to spam the system, and get bogus clicks through the network. Does this create a transparency problem for the ad networks in their relationship with their advertisers? Yes and no. What this lack of transparency does to is reinforce the critical need for third-party audit and verification systems (like our own PPC Assurance). After all, neither Google nor any other of the advertising networks can credibly provide this service. Would you let the IRS do your taxes? Would you let Google grade its own homework? Probably not.

One other question struck a chord, Quote:

“Q. Is Google really motivated to end click fraud?

“Every time a fraudulent click occurs and is billed, Google profits and advertisers lose. So they do profit in the short term.

“But Google clearly has an interest in building trust with advertisers long term, and that trust is diminishing as click fraud continues to grow. If Shuman really believes that it’s in Google’s interest to end click fraud, he should embrace a third-party system and make use of our data, rather than try to discredit us.”

My answer: Yes, they are highly motivated to end “click fraud.” Their entire business is built on the credibility of their network. Some other networks may have less motivation, but the major networks are all keenly interested in wiping out the problem. The problem exists, and will be a continuous battle, but I believe it’s disingenuous to suggest that they are not working steadily towards resolving the issue.

I do believe that all the networks need to embrace a third-party audit and verification system. But such a system should not exclusively deal with click fraud; to paint all mistakes as “click fraud” does the entire online marketing industry a disservice.

Finally, the article makes a point:

“In traditional media, companies exist to make sure that advertisers get what they pay for. Nielsen does this in television, Arbitron in radio, circulation auditors in print. As the online ad market matures, the same kind of companies will develop. No matter how much Google tries to diminish the role of click fraud in advertisers’ campaigns, it’s here to stay, and a third-party system is necessary to build trust and help grow the industry.”

We agree, 100%. That’s why we built PPC Assurance; Quality Assurance for pay-per-click. We’re not trying to resolve the click fraud issue; that’s a different problem than the one referred to in the paragraph above. Neilsen’s TV ratings doesn’t tackle fraud, nor does Arbitron. They ensure that advertising displays in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contracts between advertisers and the ad networks. We recognize that advertisers want and need to know that they are only paying for the traffic they actually wanted to get. Click fraud is something completely different, and lumping audits and verification into the same basket as click fraud does both a disservice.

PPC Assurance - lets you monitor your online ad campaigns: Don’t Guess - Know!

Enquisite Launches PPC Assurance Reporting Suite

August 20th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

Here’s the announcement - PPC Assurance, our first revenue product is now live. It’s designed for anyone running a pay per click campaign. You don’t need to be knowledgeable about PPC to benefit from this service. This is a PPC management service which helps anyone from a beginner to recognized market experts make their PPC campaigns more successful. We’re not kidding. Our testers, focus groups, and reviewers came from both groups; absolute beginners, and the best in the world. They all found PPC Assurance to be simple, intuitive, and dead simple to use. It’s not easy making something simple!

San Mateo, CA. August 20, 2007 — Enquisite, a search analytics firm has today unveiled its PPC Assurance reporting service at The PPC Assurance suite fills the void in third-party verification of Pay per Click (PPC) charges. The suite empowers businesses with a simple way to audit and verify their PPC charges, and automatically submits instances of improper billing for a refund.

When a business contracts a PPC Provider (such as Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing) to display their advertising, they set out Terms and Conditions for the display of the advertising; these parameters include when, where, and how the ads should display. Campaign conditions might include such options as geo-targeting, time of day and day of the week scheduling, specification of which networks to display the ads on, and excluded sites.

While companies can customize their ad campaign parameters in order to more effectively spend their ad dollars and reach a specific target market, there has been no effective means of validating whether the ads have been displayed in accordance with the agreed upon conditions.

Enquisite’s patent-pending PPC Assurance reporting suite provides businesses with the data needed to validate their Pay per Click charges. PPC Assurance equips companies with easy-to-understand information that confirms whether or not individual paid ads are being properly displayed. This allows companies to effectively resolve possible PPC overcharges, fine tune campaigns and maximize ROI on paid search spending.

Enquisite’s CEO Richard Zwicky explains: “The search engines and advertising networks are working hard to ensure that PPC campaigns execute properly. But problems do arise. Advertisers need to know when something goes wrong, and how to resolve the issue. Advertising networks need to know what’s happening as well, so that they can improve their services. PPC Assurance provides both parties with the objective information they need, leading everyone to a quick and equitable resolution.”

This year, online marketing campaign spending is expected to exceed $25 billion. The medium of search marketing has escalated to a point where it is routing significant dollars away from other typical marketing and advertising channels including print and TV. With audit systems at present almost non-existent, an important gap exists that requires companies to pay their online advertising bills without 3rd party validation of the accuracy of their campaigns. The phenomenon of paying un-validated online ad bills is akin to a situation where a home buyer would purchase a new home based simply on his faith that the seller was accurately representing the property. Though the seller might not purposely misrepresent the value of the property, it is generally accepted that a buyer should obtain an independent third-party inspection before they pay for it. This professional third-party inspection validates that the facts are as presented and leaves the purchaser with peace of mind and in-depth knowledge about the wisdom of their investment.

PPC Assurance empowers companies of all sizes with independent verification of their PPC campaign charges, and a simple resolution mechanism to settle billing disputes.

About Enquisite:

Enquisite is an award winning web analytics firm, specializing in search analytics. Enquisite’s SAAS reporting suite is currently used by thousands of companies worldwide. PPC Assurance is the flagship for fee service offering in the Enquisite suite of reports.