A recent study by Receptional's Web Analytics partner, IndexTools has reinforced Microsoft's claim that their paid search product converts better than Google's across a broad range of search verticals. It was no small study either... covering over 15 Million visitors from paid search, the study found that Microsoft Adcenter adverts converted into sales around 20% better than Google's AdWords product. Here's a normalised graph of the results.
Dennis found that this was across all verticals, but was careful not to say that it would be true for everyone.
There is a question mark that arises here, though. It MAY be that the people advertising on Microsoft's platform are a n experience or expert subset of those advertising on Google. In other words, the conversion rate may be higher on Microsoft not because the quality of the audience is better, but because the quality of the PPC manager is better. If that was the case, however, then one would also expect an uplift in Yahoo's conversion rates compared to Google's as the same would presumably be true. Yahoo's traffic quality, however, falls behind both of its competitors.
Unfortunately, Dennis's research has been very careful not to give away an overall "benchmark conversion rate" either for one engine or for PPC as a whole. In fact he gave no actual conversion rates at all.
Our own research suggests, though, that Microsoft's traffic is, indeed, superior to Google's in terms of quality. In fact, we find Yahoo's traffic to be better in some verticals than Google's as well. Yahoo, however, tends to be really quite vertical dependant. The real challenge for Microsoft is quantity. Typically, for every