Top News Events of 2012 & Resulting PPC Trends

2012 has been quite the year with many events that shaped it. These events ranged from the death of the legendary singer Whitney Houston, Facebook’s IPO, the London Olympics (and Gabby Douglas winning the gold medal), the U.S. election (and ultimately the re-election of President Obama), Hurricane Sandy, the release of the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, the “end of the world” on 12/21, and now the announcement of the Duke and Duchess’s first child.

It’s been a year of much news and many searches by the public, and of course 2013 will more than likely serve to be a year of similarly interesting and remarkable news and occurrences – it’s hard to believe that 2013 is literally right around the corner.

For now, using SEMrush’s newly released historical PPC data allows for us to go back in time and look into the specifics of 2012 to see and compare the many events and PPC trends.

Social Media – Facebook IPO –

On May 18, Facebook hosted an initial public offering, officially taking the company to a public level. Facebook has always been in the news, but in going public created even more of a stir.

Additionally, there has been a great deal more advertising on the website for both business and personal purposes, and Facebook ads are most often purchased by third parties to promote their Facebook product or company page. The PPC over the course of 2012 for Facebook has remained rather unvarying:


However, keyword purchases by these advertisers did change. In November, those utilizing Facebook as a method of promotion are bidding on some interesting keywords such as “healthy families”, “cityville”, “pregnancy test”, “cereal”, “mio”, and. In July of this year, “” had some other keywords that came into focus:


While some of them were similar such as “mio” and “milky way”, it seems as though Facebook advertising has a very prime focus on keywords that are related to pregnancy and baby names (most of which are leading to the “Huggies” Facebook page, so they are obviously placing a lot of stock into Facebook for their marketing campaign). In August, once again keywords were similar with additions such as “pepsi”, “game”, “frito lay”, and “funny videos”, but the advertisers on Facebook are continuously changing.

Sports/World – the London Olympics –

The London Olympics were a big part of the year 2012, with USA swimmer Michael Phelps announcing his retirement after the games and Gabby Douglas taking home the gold for USA gymnastics. Currently, is bidding on keywords such as “Olympics 2012”, “London Olympics”, “us soccer”, and “judo”. However back when the Olympics were taking place, results were a bit different:


In June, “” was distributing approximately 22 percent of their budget to the keyword “2012 olympics”, and were also bidding on other keywords such as “us womens soccer team”, “usa field hockey”, and even “shaun white snowboarding”, which is a sport that was understandably not a part of the summer Olympics. Thus, it seems as though “” was utilizing the summer Olympics to promote other relevant sports, such as USA snowboarding.

Retail – JCPenney –

It has been a very interesting year for the well-known retailer JCPenney. Earlier this year, they announced that they would be laying off a good portion of their workforce, and began employing a new pricing method wherein “everyday” prices would reflect what some would consider to be sale prices.

This change in the store cause consumers to be not quite as satisfied with the way in which JCPenney had decided to manage their pricing and store overall. Since then, they have suffered a great deal of revenue losses, and hence their PPC strategies have also been altered throughout the year in order to deal with the fact:


As the year-long screenshot shows, JCPenney actually began to gradually increase their ads keywords after the announcement of their new sale strategy in February. Since then, it has had steady escalation likely due to the fact that they have to find some way in which to advertise their non-existent sales, and their ads have reached their highest in November with approximately 1.2 million and traffic of 1.2 million. Perhaps their PPC strategy has begun to work, especially during the holidays?

Music/Reality TV –

MTV is an entertainment channel that is watched for many purposes such as for senseless reality shows and music videos. They are constantly coming out with new shows that they will believe to be of interest to their viewers, especially with the conclusion of the infamous program “Jersey Shore”. Every year new artists and shows arise, and “” has altered their PPC throughout the year in order to promote new programs and artists:


AdWords were extremely sporadic for throughout the course of the year, and they have most recently not been putting any funding into AdWords at all, specifically since September. Prior to that, specifically if we look back to July, we are able to view the difference in their bidding habits, which is rather considerable:


Looking at historical data for MTV for July, was bidding on the keyword “mtv” in addition to those such as “jersey shore” (of course), “the real world” (is that show even still on?), and “mtv 16 and pregnant”. Therefore, it’s obvious that MTV has been placing more of an emphasis on their shows rather than music. Interestingly enough, MTV didn’t bid on any keywords in September, which is when the video music awards were held.

Prior to that in August, they were bidding on the keyword “mtv movie awards” (even though they were held back in June), and “Rihanna songs”. MTV appears to be experimenting with their PPC habits based upon where their prime focus is at the time.

News – U.S. Presidential Election –

Ah, the Presidential election. News of the election was booming for months, up until the final decision was made to re-elect President Obama.

There was much news about the campaigns, the debates, and anything else having to do with the candidates and their personal lives (take a look back at this article for a brief reminder – remember searches for “shirtless romney”?) Barack Obama’s website was doing quite a bit of work with their PPC to keep up with the Romney campaign, and the historical data for the website confirms just that:


At the beginning of the year, traffic and AdWords seemed to be relatively stagnant, until of course the election began to get underway. At that point, Obama’s highest Ads Keywords were at 13,289 in August with 112,619 in ads traffic.

After August, these numbers began to drop progressively which may be surprising due to the fact that the election was around the corner, although search engine traffic was at its highest of the year with 524,000 searches.

In November, Ads Keywords dropped down to 0. At the current time, isn’t bidding on any keywords (he won the election already, after all). However looking back a few months such as to August when he had the most PPC, we can see some differing results:


In August, was bidding on expected keywords such as “obama” (where they were spending the most of their budget), but also were bidding on “obamacare”, “immigration reform”, “the white house”, “democratic party”, and “scotusblog”, which is a blog for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Other keywords bid on my Mr. Obama were those of “chris Christie for president”, “cost of Iraq war”, “brock obama” (of course his campaign bid on the misspelling), and even “el presidente”. The list goes on. But whatever strategy Obama and his campaign team used over the course of this long year, it worked, as Obama is back in office for another four years.

Technology – iPhone5 –

The iPhone 5. There was speculation about Apple’s newest phone for a long time, and it was finally released in September, followed not long after by the long-awaited iPad Mini. Both of these items are hot tickets for the holiday season this year, and trends for 2012 show that was bidding on the most keywords of 2012 in April with 184,000 and more than 1.2 million in Ads Traffic, and in September (likely for the release of the iPhone5) they were bidding on 100,000 keywords.


Currently, is bidding on keywords such as “itunes”, “apple store”, “ipad”, and “iphone 5”. September data shows us the difference between what they were bidding on during the month of the iPhone 5’s release:


During that month, as could have been guessed, was allocating almost 14 percent of their budget to the keyword “iphone 5” while also bidding on words such as “itunes” (which seemingly generated the most traffic of all), “ipod”, and “siri”.

Apple is a company that is obviously a household name. If you are without an Apple product, you are most likely considered to be out-of-the-norm.

If you recall from this article, Apple doesn’t quite invest in as much PPC as some other competitors might, and searches increase with the release of new products just as they did before the release of the iPhone5. Since Apple is already so well-known by society, they don’t have to invest quite as much of their budget into PPC although they do allocate some of it when deemed necessary.


Taking a trip back in time to explore the historical data that is relative to different events in 2012 provides us with a method in which to compare data and coincidentally decipher how and why habits and trends may have changed or stayed the same.

Many factors succeed in determining the way in which Internet marketing tactics are handled throughout the year, but no matter what year it may be, there are always events that are going to change how (and what) the public searches, how they shop, and how retailers and websites act in response to whatever may be occurring in society.

By turning back the clock for a moment and revisiting historical data we can obtain and analyze extremely constructive information, and now it’s on to 2013. So until then: happy searching, happy holidays, and of course a Happy New Year.

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