Google wants more of your money: showing AdWords ads for related searches

Tonight’s the semi-final of the World Cup, where the Netherlands will compete against Uruguay. As a true SEO I decided to check out the Google SERP for the query ‘uruguay’. There I found Google showing Adwords ads for the related search query ‘uruguay real estate’. I just bumped into this today. I don’t know if it’s really new, but I hadn’t noticed it before.

I’d say it’s a smart move from Google to make more money. This search query normally would show me just one ad from Google itself. So there’s not a chance Google’s making any money from me using this query. So why not show some other ads anyway? They don’t know if I’m interested in real estate in Uruguay, so it ‘s a long shot. Heck, they’re advertising for something completely different themselves. But even with the small chance of me clicking on it, chances are higher than with no other ads at all.

With the query [uruguay] used 301,000 times a month in and the average CPC for [Uruguay real estate] estimated on € 0.35 this could produce a nice little revenue for Google (especially when you keep in mind that this query by itself would not produce any direct revenue for Google).

Google mentioned that showing ads for related queries is part of an experiment. I don’t know whether Google uses advertisers for this experiment who gave their permission. But when they don’t, I don’t think advertisers will like this at all. They’ve chosen not to advertise on a generic query but Google shows their ads anyway. Google has always told advertisers to be relevant, hence the quality score. This doesn’t match that vision.

A little research for other queries showed Google showing related ads for the following queries:

Given search query Search volume Ads shown for related query Estimated CPC related query
spain 1,000,000 spain travel € 3.26
world cup 386,000 world cup tickets € 0.89
german 368,000 learn german € 1.68
parking 3,350,000 domain parking € 2.60
airport parking € 3.52

What’s your note on this? Should Google do this? Is it a good experiment to improve AdWords’ quality. Or are they making a big mistake here?

Note: I don’t know if Google uses different pricing for these related ads or if they price them at all because they’re part of an experiment. For this article I assumed that they price them according to the bids for the related search query. If anyone knows more about this, please let us know!

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About Jeroen van Eck

Jeroen van Eck is a consultant search engine marketing at the online marketing company E-Focus in the Netherlands.