NEWS26 August 2014

Search engine keywords can predict ad clicks

News North America

US — The keyword term a consumer uses in a search engine query can predict the likelihood they will click on an organic or paid advertisement, according to new research from Columbia Business School.

The research, Consumer Click Behaviour at a Search Engine: The Role of Keyword Popularity, published in Journal of Marketing Research, outlines user activity once they arrive on a search results page.

Key findings were:

  • Consumers using more popular keyword items – e.g. ‘car’ – tend to have lower click activity overall
  • Consumers using less popular terms tend to have higher click activity overall and are more targetable for paid advertising
  • Consumers using less popular keywords expend more effort and are more invested in the product or service they are searching for

“A consumer looking to buy an automobile may search a popular term like ‘car’ in a search engine, but a high-involvement consumer would use a less popular keyword that may contain a specific make or model, like Corvette,” said Kinshuk Jerath, co-author and professor at Columbia Business School.

“Consumers using less popular search terms are more invested and closer to the product they are searching for, making them better targets for sponsored search advertising.”