Businesses are always keen to know about their competitors marketing activities and how much they’re spending. I often come across blogs and forums where marketeers ask the same question: ‘Does anyone know of any sources for gathering paid search advertising spend for competitors?’ PPC spend on campaigns seems to be of particular interest.
There are tools that provide a variety of information but if you try to estimate your own campaigns and compare the estimates with the real information, you will find out that the results are completely inaccurate. The best you can get is a very ballpark range of spend, but nothing that can be used as a bulletproof source.
It’s no secret that most of the analytics tools have their limitations and are flawed in some way. SEMRush, SpyFu or KeywordSpy are good for researching competitors keywords, keywords ad positions and even ad copy but none of these tools give accurate information about competitors spend.
Google AdWords Auction insights report is pretty good, letting you compare your performance with other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions that you are. With the Auction insights report, you can see how your impression share, average position and other statistics stack up in relation to those of other advertisers. However it will not show you competitors total spend because it only compares performance and spend for campaigns, ad groups and keywords you have in common that meet a minimum threshold of activity.
So if you bid for red balloons and yellow balloons keywords while your competitors’ bid for yellow balloons, green balloons and blue balloons keywords, the auction insights report will only show you the performance comparable for yellow balloons keywords.
Google AdWords Auction Insights report will not show you the overall competitors’ spend.
Surprisingly I’ve found the best tool to find out approximate competitors spend is actually Hitwise. It offers profiling for many industries. Pick any industry, ‘Property’ for example:
The Search Marketing report shows the share sites in the industry are attracting through search marketing. In the report panel select website search share report, paid clicks metric and set date range:
Hitwise will return a list of websites with their paid search share in the ‘Property’ industry.
My website is number 4 in the list. During the reported period of time my media spend was £36,879.88.
To calculate the media spend of competitor 1 all I need to do is work out the relation between my paid search market share and theirs:
The result is:
Use a spreadsheet to calculate the approximate spend for all competitors:
These approximate figures should give you a good sense of who’s spending what and help you gauge your competitors’ level of aggressiveness, but they should not be used as exact science.
Htwise isn’t always accurate, they collect aggregate usage data from a geographically diverse range of ISP networks, representing all types of Internet usage, including home, work, educational and public access. The data is then weighted to universe estimates in each market.
So although Hitwise data may not be completely accurate, this method still offers the best estimation of the overall competitors PPC spend.
If you know of any other more accurate ways to find out competitors PPC spend, please share your ideas with me in the comments.