With computer hacking in the news on a daily basis lately, and computer viruses and DNS attacks commonplace as well, it’s a good time to look at cyber security in paid search advertising. To do so, AdGooroo examined U.S. Google desktop text ad activity on 558 cyber security-related keywords over the last half-year, from September 2016 through February 2017.
During the six-month period, 2,334 advertisers spent $17.9 million to sponsor the cyber security keyword group we examined, which included a range of terms covering products aimed at both consumer and business audiences.
The top two keywords in the ranking each generated $1.4 million in ad spend, respectively, over the six months examined, but did so under very different circumstances. Ads displayed for the term ‘antivirus’ drove more than one million consumer clicks at an average cost per click of $1.40, while ads for the term ‘cyber security’ generated just 81,000 clicks, but at a significantly higher average cost per click, $17.41.
The difference in cost between the two terms is likely due to the nature of the product or service being advertised. ‘Antivirus’ software is a relatively inexpensive consumer product sponsored by sellers such as Norton.com and McAfee.com while ‘cyber security’ skews toward a range of more expensive business-to-business solutions from providers such as ATT.com, SAS.com and Microsoft.com.
During the period 223 advertisers sponsored the term ‘cyber security’, while only 67 advertisers sponsored ‘antivirus’, perhaps pointing to the fact that ‘cyber security’ encompasses a broader range of products and services and therefore may attract more advertisers.
In any case, the vast majority of keywords we examined were related to antivirus solutions. Keywords containing the term ‘virus’ accounted for 444 out of the 558 cyber security keywords we studied, including 8 among the top 20: the aforementioned ‘antivirus’, ‘antivirus software’ ($773,000), ‘best antivirus’ ($599,000), ‘virus protector’ ($581,000), ‘free antivirus’ ($493,000), ‘virus protection’ ($390,000), ‘best free antivirus’ ($226,000) and ‘best antivirus for mac’ ($175,000).
In addition to ‘cyber security’, there were 9 other business-oriented security keywords in the top 20: ‘networking security’ ($705,000), ‘cybersecurity’ ($666,000), ‘network security’ ($341,000), ‘cyber security training’ ($328,000), ‘information security’ ($288,000), ‘cloud security’ ($275,000), ‘it security’ ($225,000), ‘data security’ ($168,000) and ‘business network security’ ($164,000).
In another example of the importance of keyword selection, the term ‘cyber security’ generated more than twice as many clicks and twice as much ad spend as the similar term ‘cybersecurity’, although it cost less ($17.41 vs. $19.02 per click). It also had stronger competition—223 advertisers sponsored the term ‘cyber security’ during the period compared 156 advertisers who sponsored ‘cybersecurity’.
Similarly, the term ‘networking security’ generated more than twice as much ad spend as ‘network security’, but cost nearly twice as much to sponsor, having an average cost per click of $30.42 compared to $16.14 for ‘network security’.
To assess leadership in paid search advertising on the cyber security keyword group, we separated the 558 original keywords into two subgroups, antivirus and general cyber security, with the idea that the two groups would have different types of advertisers sponsoring them: antivirus software sellers whose primary audience is consumers, and then enterprise-level B2B solution providers. To an extent, that was true. However, we did find overlap among advertisers in the two groups, particularly in the general cyber security keyword group.
Our antivirus keyword group contains a total of 524 terms. In addition to the 444 antivirus-specific keywords mentioned above, we also included 80 other related keywords, such as terms related to ‘malware’ identification, blocking and removal.
McAfee.com led in clicks on the keyword group, generating a 12.3% click share, followed closely by Norton.com, the security division of Symantec, with an 11.9% click share. Three similarly named comparison sites rounded out the top five: Top10AntivirusSoftware.com (9.9% click share), Top10BestAntivirus.com (7.7%) and TheTop10Antivirus.com (6%).
Microsoft.com and Barracuda.com both promoted business solutions in their ads displayed on the antivirus keyword group and gained a 2.4% and 1.8% click share, respectively.
Cyber Security Providers
Our general cyber security keyword subgroup includes 34 non-antivirus cyber security keywords, including ‘cyber security’, ‘networking security’ and ‘cloud security’.
Although we did indeed find more business solution providers on this keyword group, we also found antivirus software providers, which we generally found to be consumer-oriented in their paid search advertising, even if they also offer antivirus software for businesses.
Cisco.com and Microsoft.com, for instance, led the non-antivirus cyber security keyword group with a 4.8% and 4.7% click share, respectively, while antivirus-focused advertisers Top10AntivirusSoftware.com (3.6% click share), Norton.com (3.5%) and McAfee.com (2.9%) rounded out the top five advertisers.
Other B2B solution advertisers who led in click share on the keyword group include IBM.com (3.3% click share), ATT.com (3%), Barracuda.com (2.4%) and Symantec.com (2.3%).