Fathom: Search Keyword Prices Drop in May

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Search engine keyword prices dropped an average of 31 cents in May, led by mortgage keywords, a study released yesterday found.


Fathom Online, San Francisco, said mortgage keyword prices slid 30 percent in May compared with April, following the Federal Reserve's latest interest rate increase.


Tracking keywords via its Keyword Price Index, Fathom Online said the prices in all sectors it tracks -- including retail, hospitality and telecom-wireless -- fell in May, except for the automotive category, which rose 7 percent to $1.50 per keyword on average.


Though prices declined in May, advertisers should not expect that trend to continue, according to Fathom Online.


"In general, we expect search prices to continue to increase," CEO Chris Churchill said. "As the market continues to mature, the swings will be less dramatic."


Advertisers should take advantage of the current swings in keyword prices.


"For advertisers, the good news is that there will be micro-trends within and between months that sophisticated search marketers can leverage," Churchill said.


For example, keyword prices in the finance-investing sector dropped 11 percent in May to $1.81 per keyword on average because volatility in the stock market this year is mirroring the ups and downs in keyword prices in that category, according to Fathom Online.


Seasonal trends also affect keyword prices. Prices in the consumer travel and hospitality sector dipped 6 percent in May, though the summer travel season was about to begin. Fathom Online found that the heavy advertising for that sector occurred in March because advertisers anticipated consumers would buy summer travel accommodations in the spring.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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