using google adwords for market research

[email protected]

using google adwords for market research

about patrick lannigan

Patrick Lannigan Contact Info



corp dev





marketing: the cisco approach

business of software videos

into the woods steppin' out cast

gypsy steppin' out cast

managing creative types

solution selling

bank in a box

using google adwords for market research

marketing expensive software products

marketing event planning

50 ms to make a good first impression

starbucks: marketing courage

the theory and practice of selling the aga cooker

how to create advertising that sells


Using Google AdWords for Market Research

Using Google AdWords for Market Research

During the December 1999 Christmas holidays, I was looking for a way to validate my gut feel that MySQL, an open source database, was on the verge of rapid growth relative to Postgres, another open source database.

I tried Google searches to see how many pages were found using the search "mysql" versus that of "postgres." The result: MySQL returned 46,400 while Postgres returned 777 pages. This information was useful—but I wanted more.

So while still dressed in my bathrobe on a Saturday morning, I got my credit card out and created some Google AdWords advertisements and had them up and running globally in a few minutes. In a matter of hours, I had my answer. I could see that the ratio of those people typing "mysql" into Google versus that of Postgres was a factor of a thousand or more. How else can you get information like this so fast?

In 2004/2005, when I was first revamping SIT's website, I wanted to be sure that the term "banking software" was used more often than "bank software". Again, I put my credit card down and created a few Google AdWords advertisements. And in a matter of hours I had my answer. The winner was "banking software." Equipped with this information, I was more confident in using the term "banking software" throughout SIT's marketing materials and website.

Again, I ask, how else can you get this kind of information so rapidly?

Before Google AdWords, businessmen and advertisers would either have to speculate or perform expensive market research to obtain this kind of information. I had my answer for $25 in the two cases illustrated above.

Of course, there is no way Google AdWords replaces primary research for more complex questions. However, for the simple ones—especially where you're trying to gauge demand for x versus y—you can have your answers in a few hours.

This past weekend (January 31, 2010), I ran more Google AdWords to support this article. I spent about $21 to find out how many people globally typed the word "iPad" into Google between 3PM and 4PM on a Saturday afternoon. It worked like a charm. Over 6,000 people typed the word "iPad" into Google. What was different this time from my experiments years ago was that Google AdWords took much longer to report the findings (almost 18 hours). While I find that odd, it is still relatively fast.

Google AdWords for Research

If you have a gut feel that there is a demand for a product or service, you can try this method to help you find your answer. I'm not saying you'll get a definitive answer for each case, but it's better than the months you'd have to spend trying to answer your question using another method.

There are a number of little ins and outs I'm skipping here. As an example, in each case my advertisement ended up getting stopped by Google AdWords because not enough people clicked on it. That's OK. What Google AdWords did give me, however, was the number of impressions (i.e. the number of times my ad was displayed). That was the golden number I was looking for.


patrick lannigan
public profiles


Email Patrick Lannigan at lannigan at gmail dot com for more information

This page was created and/or refreshed on April 12, 2017 @ 14:50:56
by Patrick Lannigan (or one of his cronies) in Markham, Ontario, Canada
The page subject is: Using Google AdWords for Market Research