The Google / Comscore clicking clash is really an interesting story from a lot of angles. Comscore’s recent report that came earlier this week about Google pay per click metrics sent Google stock into something of an immediate tailspin, losing Google tens of billions in market capitalization as soon as the report came out. However, today Comscore is claiming their report does not directly support the ideas that Google click ads are in trouble and that the recession is going to kill online ads.
Comscore notes the two concerns others express from their findings:
1) a potentially weak first quarter outlook for Google, and
2) an indication that a soft U.S. economy is beginning to drag down the online advertising market.
And then says their report does not directly support these conclusions:
While we do not claim that these concerns are unwarranted, we believe a careful analysis of our search data does not lend them direct support. More specifically, the evidence suggests that the softness in Google’s paid click metrics is primarily a result of Google’s own quality initiatives that result in a reduction in the number of paid listings and, therefore, the opportunity for paid clicks to occur. In addition, the reduction in the incidence of paid listings existed progressively throughout 2007 and was successfully offset by improved revenue per click. It is entirely possible, if not likely, that the improved revenue yield will continue to deliver strong revenue growth in the first quarter. Separately, there is no evidence of a slowdown in consumers clicking on paid search ads for rest of the US search market, which comprises 40% of all searches.
I’m still digesting the larger report but it seems to suggest that Comscore sees *no reason whatsoever* from their data to assume Google will have a bad first quarter, and if I’m reading them correctly they are effectively saying there is reason to think the quarter’s earnings will *improve* because the revenue per click is improving and paid clicks are increasing? Confusing because these are the almost exact opposite of the conclusion made by market watchers based on the same data.