Google doesn’t spend a lot on advertising, that’s what their competition does. Guess what? It doesn’t matter how much you spend if you are Yahoo, Microsoft or, Google will continue to win.

But, kudos to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, they were able to bump from a nobody to a better known nobody with their campaign (“Experience Instant Getification” and “The Algorithm”) more than any of the other also rans, up a whole one-tenth of a percentage point.

Guess Who Gained Search Share - Advertising Age - Digital
…scrappy little Ask was dropping millions on a high-profile, Crispin-designed ad campaign and telling everyone it had the best algorithm. So guess which company gained the most share in search this year. Yes, it was Google.

According to ComScore, Google’s share in January was 52.6%, and by October, the most recent month with available data, that number had climbed to 58.5%. Others peg its share as even bigger: Hitwise has it at 65.1% in November, up from 64.1% in January.

In the meantime, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL all lost share, and Ask was the only gainer, up one-tenth of a percentage point. (It’s not very likely, but things still could turn around in November and December, as those returns aren’t in yet.)

“Google has really become the verb of search,” said James Lamberti, senior VP at ComScore. “It’s a combination of viral and branding power.”

Pepsi vs. Coke
“If you did the equivalent of the Pepsi Challenge and had a blind taste test of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft results, I don’t think people would find Yahoo’s results are necessarily bad,” said Ellen Siminoff, CEO of Efficient Frontier, a search-marketing-technology company. “But it comes down to branding. Google has done a heck of a job continuing to build its brand.”

Absolute search numbers tell a different story. According to ComScore, only one search engine, AOL, declined in terms of total queries. Yahoo gained 5%, Google gained 37%, Microsoft sites gained 15% and Ask gained 24%.

So should marketers be worried? As the search category — estimated at $8 billion in 2007 by Forrester — becomes an increasingly important part of a marketing plan, the seeming consumer consolidation with one player arguably gives Google more control over the search experience.

“Marketers sure would like for someone to give Google a run for its money,” Ms. Siminoff said. “There’s lots of emotional support behind Microsoft and Yahoo.” But, she said, “marketers aren’t spending on Google because Google’s a nice guy but because Google works for them.”

It’s worth noting that the share gains didn’t manifest themselves only in consumer search-engine use. They carried over into ad spending. Efficient Frontier, which has $400 million under its management, said more than 73% of that went to Google in October of this year, up from 62% two years ago.

Looking for innovation
Google is not a monopoly — yet — but luckily for paid-search marketers, even if it were, price inflation is less likely thanks to Google’s market-driven, auction-based pricing.

“Marketers just want to see the innovation,” Mr. Lamberti said. “That’s why there’s buzz around Ask.”…

So even though Google spends less, their brand delivers more. Sounds like serious marketing judo doesn’t it. Here is the lesson to learn, and it applies to all those who want to effectively use Google to drive business to their site: in a land of similar products the only differentiation that you can control as marketer is the user experience - and that is what you should focus your marketing efforts on.

It’s why Apple is the only personal computing company that stands apart from the crowd; why no other online retailer has the customer base of Amazon and why Google is the winner in search. The focus is on the customer experience as much as the actual product. Google could have delivered banner ads- but at the expense of slowing the delivery of results. Amazon could have advertised, but instead chose to spend that money on free shipping. No matter what Crispin Porter + Bogusky does for, the problem is that search now depends on critical mass and massive investment on technology to refine results- and no one can catch up with Google.

Now, more than ever, there is a science to advertising: deliver answers instead of ads, experiences instead of excess,  and results instead of rhetoric. Everything can be tracked and measured either by clicks or by sales, so when looking at an ad agency to deliver customers via search, think twice about the creativity and look for the science behind the campaign. You’ve already found one agency that understands how to make this work or you wouldn’t be reading this.

We dare you to find another.