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What makes people click on search ads?

Most surveys find that consumers are aware of the difference between ads and organic listings in search results. But what about the consumers that are aware and acknowledging clicking on ads? What makes them click? A new survey from agency research firm Clutch set to answer just that – across Google, Bing, YouTube and Amazon.

Why you should care

In a survey of 506 people who have clicked on a paid search ad in the past month, 75% said the ads make it easier to find information they're looking for. They think the ads are relevant to their searches.

The top reason people said they click on search ads? That the ads answered their queries. That may sound obvious, but it's a good reminder that should be relevant to what the searcher wants to find. If I am searching for "snowblowers on sale," I am not looking for ads to use the latest models or fancy features. I want to see words like "sale," "deal" or "clearance" in the ads.

Not surprising, people are also driven by ads that mention brands with which they are already familiar. Twenty-six percent said that has been reasonably priced for search ads, and known brands are the primary reason people click on YouTube and Amazon search ads.

  • 49 percent said they click on text ads; 31 percent on Shopping ads; and 16 percent on video ads
  • 77 percent of the respondents said they are confident they can find search advertisements in the results (though that may be more true for Google text ads than other formats and platforms). They are probably more likely to click on an ad on Google than the other engines. 63 percent said they'd click on a Google ad, while just 15 percent said they'd click on an ad, 9 percent on YouTube and 6 percent on Bing. It's worth noting those states that are likely to be a reflection of how click-through rates are likely to compare to individual advertisers.
  • The survey results point to the clear need to connect ad copy to the query. This is nothing new. What is changing is the role of machine learning in query matching.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Through Media's Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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