Google’s Top Revenue-Generating Search Terms Revealed in Antitrust Trial

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A rare glimpse into Google’s most lucrative search queries was revealed this week during the US v Google antitrust trial. The list of top 20 search terms ranked by advertising revenue, from September 22, 2018, offers insights into the company’s money-making secrets.

Judge Pushes for More Transparency in Antitrust Case

The confidential data was only made public after Judge Amit Mehta pressed both sides to share more information with the public over the course of the legal battle. Google has historically kept query data like this tightly under wraps.

But after deliberation, Judge Mehta ordered the release of the top search terms by revenue, spanning just one week in 2018. While limited, the list offers a snapshot into the types of searches that generate big advertising dollars for Google.

Apple and Insurance Searches Dominate List

The top search term by revenue was “iphone 8”, followed by “iphone 8 plus” – together accounting for the top two results. This aligns with the iPhone 8 having just been released in September 2018, making it a prime target for related advertisers.

Insurance-related queries also made up 5 of the top 20 results, including “auto insurance”, “car insurance”, “car insurance quotes”, “insurance quotes”, and “cheap car insurance.” The highly competitive and lucrative insurance industry spends heavily to capture consumer searches.

Specificity Matters for Generating Clicks and Revenue

More specific iterations of popular searches, like “California auto accident lawyer”, command higher ad prices per click than broader terms like “lawyer”, according to studies.

While specialized searches have fewer volume, advertisers pay more to get precious clicks from users exhibiting purchase intent through very targeted queries.

So while “auto insurance” topped the list based on scale, longer-tail versions likely fetch higher prices per ad click.

Navigational Queries Also Drive Revenue

Interestingly, the list included direct brand searches like “Uber”, “Hulu”, “AT&T.” Users often search for a brand they intend to navigate to, allowing competitors to swoop in with ads targetting the same term.

Brands are encouraged by Google to buy ads on their own name to avoid competitors dominating. For example, buys ads on “Monday” queries to stay atop results.

Valuable Queries Show Customer Acquisition Potential

The most profitable search types for Google combine popularity and commercial intent. Insurance and phones demonstrate strong customer acquisition value, with users doing research prior to big purchases.

For advertisers, it’s worth spending heavily to be top-of-mind for valuable queries where they can gain new long-term customers.

Even if users don’t click, brand visibility during key research phases remains advantageous.

Release Offers Rare View into Google’s Money-Making Secrets

Google keeps its highest-earning searches and metrics internal, making this revenue-ranked list uniquely insightful. It illustrates the company’s ability to monetize anything from emerging tech to competitive industries.

While limited to one week, the list provides a blueprint for the characteristics of searches most lucrative for Google – specificity, commercial intent, and expensive acquisition costs.

It also hints at just how much revenue popular branded terms like “Uber” and “iPhone” deliver, empowering Google’s ad sales pitch.

For a company whose profits still heavily rely on search advertising, the top queries offer a rare glimpse behind the curtain.

Antitrust Case Exposes Inner Workings of Google’s Ad Business

Ongoing antitrust litigation is prying open Google’s opaque practices and data around areas like search and advertising revenue.

As regulators pressure Google, more revelations about its ad dominance and business secrets will likely emerge. The search terms list is just one example of confidential info coming to light.

While Google may prefer to keep its money-making search data hidden, the court-mandated disclosures could have far-reaching impacts on everything from the trial outcome to Google’s public perception.

Peeking inside its search revenue machine helps explain Google’s rise to advertising juggernaut, even as it faces more scrutiny from all sides.

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