Huge Search Marketing Spenders

Sep. 21

The corporate world of pay per click search engine marketing is very exciting. One of the reasons it’s so exciting is the budgets are unreal. When you’re managing the kind of money I am, there’s always a reason to be excited (and on your toes). I often get the question, "Ian, how much money do you spend on Google AdWords and other large search engines?" Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question. However, today I’ve got the next best thing for you, information about what the top advertisers spent on Google in the month of June. But, before we get started, I want to thank my pal Robby for sending me the idea (and article) behind this post!

AdAge Reveals What Top Advertisers Spend On AdWords

Bags of Money - Large SEM Budgets

Recently, AdAge published a very exciting post. This post reveals what top advertisers spent on AdWords In June. I highly recommend reading this article, it’s a great read. Following are some of my favorite takeaways:

  • BP went crazy and ramped from minimal spend to $3.59 million in June. What really excites me about BP’s spend is the fact that it’s all about branding. Branding gets such a bad reputation in the world of online marketing, but I’m here to say that it’s the future. I’ll explain why a bit later!
  • AT&T Mobility spent $8.08 million in June, coming in as Google’s number one spender.
  • Apollo Group (the folks behind University of Phoenix) came in as number two with $6.67 million in spend. I was actually a bit surprised to see them that high on the list. I know a number of great people working at this company and can’t say enough good stuff about them!
  • It was interesting to see Living Social on the list with $2.29 million in spend. I haven’t heard much about these guys, they seem to have come out of nowhere, definitely a company to keep an eye on.
    • My prediction: Many newer companies are growing like crazy in this market such as Inflection. In the coming years, I expect many more startups and newer names on the list. Join one of those startups now and you could be a corporate PPC millionaire. (As a side note, you may wish to check out my article about PPC career paths where I talk about the startup option.)
  • I do wonder about the accuracy of this list. There are some names I expected to see on the list which are not there. Nonetheless, the data for the companies listed does seem plausible based on my six years of corporate PPC experience. In any event, I think it’s useful in terms of being directional.

PPC Is Just Getting Started, Get Ready For Branding

One of my favorite parts of AdAge’s article: BP spent $3.59 million on AdWords in June. All of this spend was pure branding. In my opinion, PPC is all about direct advertising right now. Most savvy companies are making a positive margin on their PPC spend. This is a good thing and it’s what we get paid to do.

However, when you start looking at the statistics, online advertising is still a smaller percentage of most big company advertising budgets. As these budgets continue to shift online, margins for many advertisers will get thinner and thinner. (I’m talking in aggregate here, of course there will always be super profitable niches.) Online will become more about branding. It makes perfect sense to me: At least BP knows how many clicks they are getting on AdWords (a proactive activity) versus offline impressions (which is a passive activity).

Now, you could look at this in two ways. If you’re a direct advertiser with really high margins, you could see it as glass half empty and worry about evaporating margins. (I wouldn’t look at it this way. As long as you don’t sit still and remain savvy, you’ll find a way to continue to squeeze out margin. If you squeeze margin out of a difficult environment, you will be the rock star of your company.) If you’re a glass half full type of person, this creates a world of opportunity for continued success in the online marketing career path! More money spent online means more opportunity for all of us in the corporate PPC world. Moreover, it creates a world of opportunity for content publishers.

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