Google's Top 5 Biggest Adwords Advertisers: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

A leaked Google document has revealed how much major firms spend on online advertising. It shows that even well-established Internet brands spend millions of dollars a month using Google's Adwords advertising system.

The document has been published by industry journal Advertising Age and, as well as giving general information for the first six months of the year, reveals how much companies spent on Google ads in June, 2010.

For those unaware, Google Adword ads appear alongside Google search results and online websites that participate in the Adwords program. Advertisers use a bidding system to pay to have their ad displayed, which then transports users to their website once the ad is clicked. Advertisers only pay for ads which are clicked, however, competition to be listed in the top ad positions are often fierce, and thus costly.

June 2010 Online Adwords Advertising Explodes

One of the most notable companies on Google's Adwords list was British Petroleum (BP), which spent $3.59 million on advertisements during the month of June, 2010. It's a number driven by the number of people searching for terms relating to the company after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

To put that figure into context, rivals Exxon Valdez only spent $43,000 during the same month, and it's thought BP was in a similar range only a couple of months prior. (Source:

Advertising Age's Michael Learmonth believes the huge BP bill was likely the result of the company opting to have its ad appear alongside results for a wide range of related terms about the oil spill.

Google Adwords Top 5 Online Advertisers

The biggest spender of the month was AT&T at a whopping $8.08 million, which is almost certainly explained by interest in the release of the new iPhone 4.

Surprisingly, second place went to the much lesser known Apollo Group, which owns several educational establishments including the University of Phoenix. While the audience it was trying to reach is likely smaller, it may be that the group felt it worth paying a high amount per click given the money at stake from, for example, tuition fees from students.

The top five was rounded out by Expedia ($5.95 million), Amazon ($5.85 million) and eBay ($4.25 million). While it may seem they hardly even need to advertise themselves, many of those clicks may have been for searches for specific products or destinations.

Another surprise was that Apple, which is a major rival of Google in the smartphone market, spent nearly a million dollars on ads. That's a sign of just how important Google is for getting traffic to even the biggest sites. (Source:

Another interesting note: Google's income is spread very widely. The ten biggest spenders combined only made up 5 per cent of the total spending, meaning it's very unlikely any individual advertiser could have much influence over Google's pricing or policies.

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