As we reported yesterday, Google’s paid click growth is down 3% in February compared to January, according to comScore. While a slow down in growth shouldn’t be a trigger for GOOG stockholders to sell the farm, it’s the dramatic decrease that’s causing investors to dump the stock.
After seeing months of 25% to 40% growth (comparing to the same month in the previous year), February’s click-through numbers were up only 3% compared to February 2007. It’s this apparent stalling (who knows if comScore is accurate or not) that has Wall Street doing its Chicken Little dance.
Of course, Google is being “Google” and isn’t saying anything about comScore’s numbers. (Sidenote: Which is probably a good thing for Google. The first time it makes a public statement to counter any third-party growth numbers, it will set a dangerous precedent. Wall Street would then expect Google to weigh in, and if it didn’t, would assume the numbers were accurate).
So, why are we seeing a reduction on click growth? Most observers are pointing to the recent changes to AdWords which changed the “clickable” area of the ads, and likely reduced “inadvertant” clicks–and Google’s growth along with it.
The move by Google is seen by most as a long term strategy. Sacrifice short-term growth numbers in favor of increasing confidence in the quality of AdWords click-throughs. Increase confidence and you’ll keep your advertisers pumping in more money and attract new ad partners in the process.
Is this what we’re seeing here? Is Google betting on its long-term growth rather than short-term gains? I guess only it really knows, but without any explanation from the Google mothership, comScore, Wall Street, and Marketing Pilgrim will earn its keep by filling in the blanks.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the growth numbers. What do you you make of it?