The Fortune 100 Companies That Spend the Most on Paid Search

Elizaveta Pavlovskaya

Oct 05, 20212 min read
The Fortune 100 Companies That Spend the Most On Paid Search

What is paid search? Paid search is a form of digital marketing that lets advertisers show ads on major search engines. Paid search is based on a pay-per-click (PPC) format, which means that you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it, making it an easy marketing metric to be able to measure.

Advertisers spent an estimated $59.22 billion on paid search ads in 2020. But how much of that was spent by some of the biggest companies in the world? 

Using our Advertising Research tool, we analyzed the monthly traffic costs of the top 100 companies on the annual Fortune 500 list to find how much they spent on paid search over the course of 2020. Their monthly traffic costs were calculated using average click-through rates and the positioning of the domain in the top 8 paid positions on Google Ads for keywords that we have in our database. 

Our consistent data collection on the top 8 paid ads offers the closest look you can get at your competitors' advertising. The Fortune 100 companies were found to be responsible for $3.05 billion of the nearly $60 billion that was spent on paid search in 2020.

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The Fortune 100 Companies That Spend the Most on Paid Search

The company that spends the most on paid search is Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which was found to have monthly traffic costs that amounted to $774.8 million throughout the year. November of 2020 was the month when their traffic costs were the highest, at $102.4 million. 

A few of the keywords they had the highest paid search positions for during this month were “classroom,” “zoom app,” and, interestingly enough, “Los Angeles.”

16 of the Fortune 100 companies did not have any paid search data available, as they did not rank for any keywords in the top 8. At the end of our list, you’ll find these 16 major companies and the annual revenue they earned in 2020 to land them in the top 100 of the annual Fortune 500 list.

  1. Alphabet: $774.8 million
  2. Amazon: $472 million
  3. Charter Communications: $245.5 million
  4. Microsoft: $160.2 million
  5. Progressive: $152.1 million
  6. AT&T: $131.3 million
  7. Verizon Communications: $109.7 million
  8. State Farm Insurance: $86.4 million
  9. Home Depot: $77.6 million
  10. Walmart: $69.1 million

Of the top 30 companies with the highest paid search, two thirds of them are in the technology, retail, or finance industries. 8 of the top 30 companies on our list are in the tech industry, while another six are in the retail industry and five represent the finance industry.

Microsoft was the tech giant found to have the highest annual traffic cost, $160 million, while Amazon was the retailer with the highest traffic cost by far, with nearly half a billion dollars in paid search. Capital One Financial’s $50.3 million in paid search put it at the top for finance companies. 

Our Advertising Research tool can be used to uncover your competitors’ search ads, delve deeply into their paid search strategies, and plan your own PPC campaign. Give it a try and see for yourself.

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I‘ve traveled a long way with Semrush, guided by interest in research and analytics. Four years ago I started with localization but soon fell in love with SEO. For now I keep learning from the best marketers from all over the world.
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