WebVisible Data on Q3 Local Search Spending

I’m just now getting to a report put out by WebVisible on search trends and small business advertising spending in Q3. There’s some great data there.

In the the top 20 SMB paid search spending categories:

Attorneys and Dentists made up the top two largest advertiser categories in Q3 2009, with 7.7% and 5% of total advertisers respectively. These categories also had higher than average spending, and higher than average keyword counts. Air Conditioning Services and Physicians & Surgeons were the only other categories that comprised more than 2% of the total:

Source: WebVisible (Q3, 2009)

Other findings:

  • In Q3 2009, the small business search advertiser spent an average of $1,658 on search advertising, an increase of 91% from Q3 in the previous year and
  • 93% from the previous quarter.
  • Campaigns had an average of 55 keywords (excluding geographic modifiers) in Q3 2009, which increased from 43 keywords in Q3 2008.
  • In Q3 2009, Google accounted for 60.4% of search advertising spending. Yahoo! accounted for 26.2%, Bing 10.5% and Ask 2.4%. Google lost 5 points
  • year-over-year (YoY) as spend shifted among the other engines.
  • Click-through rates (CTR) improved YoY across all the engines, with the biggest improvement on Yahoo!, whose CTR improved 123% from Q3 2008 to Q3 2009.
  • Average CPCs are on the rise, with Google up 14% over a year ago. Google’s average CPC was approximately 30% higher than Yahoo! or Bing in Q3 2009.

These data represent campaigns that collectively amount to “$23 million in US small business advertiser spending in Q3 2009.”

Yet what’s interesting is the variation among the data from different sources. Borrell, for example, which estimates display, search and other forms of local online ad spending has a very different hierarchy of advertisers, dominated by the traditional classifieds categories: autos, jobs, real estate. I’ve also seen other data from different sources that show yet a different hierarchy.

The data above are largely but not entirely consistent with yellow pages category spending trends. In print YP attorneys is the highest spending advertiser category. Much of the spending that WebVisible is capturing is coming via its relationships with traditional media companies that cater to SMB advertisers.

There are two ways, potentially, to regard and interpret the data in the chart above:

  • Because it’s influenced by local media sales reps and potentially as part of a bundle of ad spend it’s consistent with traditional media category spending trends
  • It’s an indication that a lucrative category like attorneys is starting to turn to the Web in earnest, posing a longer-term threat to the print YP spend for example

9 Responses to “WebVisible Data on Q3 Local Search Spending”

  1. Court Says:

    Hi Greg,

    Most of Webvisible’s customers come through their YP channel partners, so I think the skew to YP categories, just reflects the channel WebVisible has used to get to market – not the composition of the market itself. For example, Borrell is correct that RealEstate is an enormous segment, but not for YP companies, which is why is does not show up on this report.


  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Yes that was “door 1” above, just not said as explicitly

  3. holmesonlocal Says:

    Great data. I’d love to see a mobile twist on this since the categories that people search for and click on are a bit different from online. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it exists today since Superpages, ATTi, and Google are still not selling that way and don’t seem to separating the tracking data yet from my experience. Hopefully in 2010 now that mobile is becoming a significant %!

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    There’s consumer mobile and mobile monetization. I have date on both, but they’re different and don’t line up perfectly.

  5. Brad Says:

    These numbers aren’t that surprising as many of the local SMB aggregators see different top categories because of their various partner sales channels. In addition, they all use different classifications – which makes it more confusing.

    What is disappointing is the number of keywords per industry. Those numbers were common number 4-5 years ago. Some aggregators have moved beyond less than 25-100 keywords per company and can be in the few thousand range if done correctly (and still maintain margins).

    Often the longer tail is higher converting and makes it easier to get more clicks for less rather than relying on the top expensive head terms which get you less clicks and make it look like average CPC is climbing when it’s been even for several categories for a while (if you use a longer tail keyword approach).

    The same can be said about CTR differences. That’s WV CTR and does not necessarily have any reflection on another aggregator or company based upon their ad copy/keyword setup. With so few keywords, odds are there are only one or two ads, which of course are not as appealing as the better written ads that other businesses will find when they have more granular relationships between keyword, ad copy, and user intent.

  6. Greg Sterling Says:


    Wouldn’t longer and more queries be a key to maintain margins?

  7. Brad Says:


    Think that would depend on what you’re selling. For guaranteed clicks – yes.

    For value based packages then it makes more returns for the customers and should be higher renewal rate. For lead based sales would also increase margins.

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