Should Google Display Click Counts on Ads?

    June 17, 2011
    Chris Crum

Google is testing an AdWords feature that displays how many clicks an ad has received for a particular advertiser. It’s unclear how widespread the testing is, and whether or not Google will actually turn this into an available feature on a broad scale.

Nor do we know, if Google does make this widely available, whether it will be standard or optional for the advertiser. Affiliate marketer Vinny O’Hare was able to capture a screenshot (hat tip: Search Engine Land):

Ads Display click counts

“I was up late watching tv when I saw a commercial for the Oreck air purifier and since I didn’t want to sit there for a half hour to learn the price I went to Google to see what they are going for,” writes O’Hare. “I was surprised to see the amount of clicks the advertisers has mixed in with the PPC ads on the results page. Knowing this can’t be a normal thing I took a screen shot of it. Click on the image to see it in full size. I am not sure Google wants to put out this info to everyone. I did a few more searches and it was on a few other searches but not many.  It does help people doing ppc to see what their competition is actually doing.”

David Iwanow, co-author of O’Reilly’s Google Advertising Tools, commented, “The issue with any of this is that what is based on… is it local data, is it search data, is it ppc data, is it data from the beginning of time or just this month? The problem with any deployment like this is that it’s another black box that you have to try and explain to a client or deal with as an advertiser because you started a new campaign and people aren’t clicking on your ads because it shows you only have ever had 10 clicks…It’s another element that is going to potentially put advertisers in a box and make them weigh up the options of chasing a higher number again…. ie PageRank v3.”

There’s some interesting discussion going on about the feature in the WebmasterWorld forum. User “Tropical Island” writes:

I don’t know that I want my competitors knowing how many clicks I’ve been getting or how many I’ve paid for over the years.

I definitely think that it would encourage buyers to click on heavily clicked on ads. There is a reliability factor there as well.

LucidSW wonders if this could be some sort of extension to the +1 button. Google is using the +1 button on ads. While not the same as clicks, it would have a similar (perhaps not entirely the same) impact on ad clickability, one would think. If a large number of clicks are registered, some users might be more inclined to check it out for themselves.

LucidSW also makes the point that competitors knowing the number of clicks might be a “small price to pay” for getting more clicks.

In the thread, there is also a running theme that some users don’t understand that these ads are actually ads, and may assume that they’re regular search results, making the regular results appear less valuable, because they don’t display large numbers of clicks. Everybody in the thread so far seems to be in agreement on this, though personally, I have a hard time believing that this is the case for too many users, especially considering that they’re clearly marked with the word “ads.” Furthermore, the display in the new ads reads, “x clicks for this advertiser.”

O’Hare noted that he saw different things for the same keyword in Firefox and Chrome.

What do you think of the feature? Should Google make this widely available? Mandatory or optional? Tell us what you think.