Hmm, Could Search (Meaning Google) Actually Buck the Economy?

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 25, 2008

Two new reports appear to indicate that search—and by extension Google—might do better despite the tanking economy than investors may think. And investors are bearish indeed. Google’s stock fell again today, to about a third of its all-time high, despite a big up day for the overall market. The latest knock on Google was an apparently overblown report that the search giant would be laying off up to 10,000 workers (it turns out they’re contractors, it’s unlikely it’s anywhere near 10,000, and Google had already announced its intention more than a month ago during its third-quarter earnings call).

Anyway, a couple of rare positive data points for online advertising surfaced today. One comes from comScore, which said U.S. search queries rose 20% from a year ago. That doesn’t necessarily say anything about commercial queries, UBS analyst Ben Schachter notes. But he calls the data a “modest positive” for Google.

Search marketing technology provider SearchIgnite issued a report that retail spending on search marketing rose a surprising 33% so far in the fourth quarter, shifting dollars they had been spending on other marketing channels. The report says consumers are spending at a steady rate (that is, conversion rates aren’t falling), but they’re spending less per transaction on average (big surprise…).

They’re only a couple of reports, both snapshots, both U.S.-only, neither definitive. And more important, as bad as October was, things are getting worse. Once the holiday spending is over, a few days before Christmas? Could get ugly. So the first quarter still could see search spending finally get spanked.

But for now, perhaps, thanks to its unique divination of consumer intent to buy, search may be the one place advertisers are continuing to spend.

Reader Comments


November 26, 2008 2:10 PM

I think many that are betting against google also know that google's numbers will not be as bad as the stock seems to reflect. What they do know is that according to a survey this month, reported by bloomberg, hedge funds have dumped $200 billion in assets and are looking to drop $200 billion more. Nobody is selling because they want to sell, at these prices, they are forced to sell. This decouples the stock price from the fundementals.

Miles Technologies

November 28, 2008 1:00 PM

In the present economy, it makes perfect sense that Search Engine Marketing spending is on the rise. SEM targets an active audience of potential customers at the exact moment that they are searching for a given product or service. Also, the results of SEM are measurable, which is not necessarily true of some of the more traditional means of print, television, and radio advertising. - Miles Technologies,

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