Google AdWords Benchmarks for YOUR Industry [NEW DATA]

February 29, 2016

Whether you’re doing PPC for the first time or you’ve just signed a new client, it can be daunting to know whether or not you’re doing a good job. Sure, we all want to create unicorn ads that have highest CTRs and the best conversion rates, but what’s a good metric for one industry isn’t necessarily good for another. So what numbers should you be looking to beat in your industry?

We dug into our data to find out! Check out the Google AdWords industry benchmarks our clients are seeing, including:

  • Average Click-Through Rate (CTR) in AdWords by industry, for both Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Click (CPC) in AdWords by industry, for both Search and Display
  • Average Conversion Rate (CVR) in AdWords by industry, for both Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Action (CPA) in AdWords by industry, for both Search and Display

You’ll find averages across these AdWords metrics for twenty industries: Advocacy, Auto, B2B, Consumer Services, Dating & Personals, E-Commerce, Education, Employment Services, Finance & Insurance, Health & Medical, Home Goods, Industrial Services, Legal, Real Estate, Technology, and Travel & Hospitality.

(A HUGE thank you to Bekah Wheeler, our partner marketing specialist, who put her considerable graphic design skills to work for these graphics.)

Average Click-Through Rate in AdWords by Industry

average click through rate in adwords 

Dating and personal services really click with PPC – boasting an average search CTR of 3.40%! No doubt, it’s easy to write powerful emotional ad copy when your prospects are searching for love. Other industries with high search CTRs include Finance (2.65%), B2B (2.55%), Consumer Services (2.40%), and Technology (2.38%).

Legal services struggle to attract attention on the SERP (with a relatively low average 1.35% CTR)– in large part due to advertising restrictions enforced by both Google and government organizations. Legal advertisers have to be extra smart and crafty to do well in PPC. Other industries that often have poor CTRs are eCommerce (1.66%) and industrial services (1.40%).

Tech companies should find a lot of reach with strong CTRs (0.84%) on the display network, as many apps host display ads with high CTRs for these products and services. On the flip side, employment service advertisers have struggled on the display network to create ads to entice potential job searchers and typically have poor performance, averaging a 0.14% display CTR. Maybe they fare better on LinkedIn!

The average click-through rate in AdWords across all industries is 1.91% for search and 0.35% for display.

Average Cost Per Click in AdWords by Industry

average cost per click in adwords

It’s no surprise that legal services have some of the highest CPCs on the search network. Both “Lawyer” and “Attorney” make the top 10 most expensive keywords on Google and on Bing. Average CPCs in the legal industry are $5.88 – 40% more costly than the next most expensive industry, employment services ($4.20 CPC).

Advocacy and nonprofit groups have a cost per click just under $2, likely as a result of the $2 max CPC bid Google Grant advertisers have to set on all of their keywords.  

Whereas most industries have pretty inexpensive CPCs on the Google Display Network, the Employment Services industry is a notable exception – paying $1.66 per click on GDN. No doubt, some of their troubles stem from their abysmal CTRs on Display (0.14% CTR) which hurts their display network quality score, making them pay considerably more per click.

The average cost per click in AdWords across all industries is $2.32 for search and $0.58 for display.

Average Conversion Rates in AdWords by Industry

average conversion rate in adwords

The Finance and Insurance industries convert amazingly well on both the search (7.19% CVR) and Display (1.75% CVR) networks. In many of these cases, the best converting advertisers aren’t afraid to change their offer or their conversion flow to boost their conversion rates.

Home Goods and Real Estate are conversion rate standouts on the Display network (2.19% and 1.49% respectively), no doubt because both are visual industries where a sexy picture can inspire people to click and investigate.

Ecommerce clients may not have many options to change their offer and consequently suffer one of the poorer average search conversion rates (1.91% CVR). To boot, they often have gigantic inventories, which prevents doing fine-tuning on ad copy across all ecommerce keywords. While removing barriers to purchase will always be an important CRO tool to help ecommerce clients, AdWords advertisers should focus on improving the performance of their keywords with high commercial intent to yield the most out of their search campaigns.

The average conversion rate in AdWords across all industries is 2.70% for search and 0.89% for display.

Average Cost Per Action in AdWords by Industry  

average cost per action in adwords

(Almost) free love on the SERP! Dating and personal sites have, by far, the lowest average cost per action from search ($6.91 CPA). While Google may be a great place to find a boyfriend, it is an expensive place to find an employee, doctor, or lawyer – average search CPAs for employment services, medical services, and legal services are $105.79, $126.29, and $135.17, respectively. Of course, the lifetime value of a new client in these industries is very high, making it all worthwhile in the end.

On the display network, technology companies take an easy win with CPAs below $20 ($19.23). While it should be obvious that Google and Technology pair well together, this is also in no small part due to the success of tech advertisers promoting their app installs across the search and display networks.

The average CPA in AdWords across all industries is $59.18 for search and $60.76 for display.

What Does It All Mean?

If you find yourself on the lower end of these numbers, that just means there’s plenty of room for improvement! Try running our free Google AdWords Grader to diagnose exactly where your campaigns are failing when compared to peers in your industry. If you’re hitting these benchmarks – don’t stop and settle for average either! Always strive to be a unicorn by writing the best ad copy and creating landing page unicorns that convert better than anyone else!

Check out the full infographic below:

google adwords benchmarks by industry

Data Sources:

This report is based on a sample of 2,367 US-based WordStream client accounts in all verticals (representing $34.4 million in aggregate AdWords spend) who were advertising on Google AdWords’ Search and Display networks in Q2 2015. “Averages” are technically median figures to account for outliers. All currency values are posted in USD.

About the author:

Mark is a Data Scientist at WordStream with a background in SEM, SEO, and Statistical Modeling. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

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Mar 01, 2016

Awesome infographic! Sharing this with our digital team. Thanks!

Spencer C
Mar 01, 2016

Great info! Did the AdWords API policy change again to allow this industry-specific data?

Elisa Gabbert
Mar 01, 2016

We're able to share this data due to the statement of disclosure both in this post (data sources) and in our master service agreement, hope that helps!

Mar 01, 2016

How about people in the home improvement, bathroom remodeling, kitchen remodeling, and replacement window space? Which of these industries does that fall under? Or is that another industry?

Elisa Gabbert
Mar 01, 2016

Either "Consumer Services" or "Industrial Services" depending on the market.

Michael Stricker
Mar 01, 2016

Very exciting to see this data, thanks Mark Irvine and WordStream. While everyone runs to their own KPIs for benchmarking against their industry, I need to ask if it was intentional that the image size is enormous (3493X12506) thus it resists Pinning to Pinterest? It is quite readable (and manageable) at 1000X3580 -- would love to help spread this comparative info that you've been so kind as to share!

Elisa Gabbert
Mar 01, 2016

Wow, good point! I'll see if we can shrink them down.

Mar 02, 2016

I too would like to share - great information here!
But can I get a couple of details so I can put in context:
1. time period this data covers
2. number of accounts this data covers.
Time period in particular sets you up to do a really interesting comparison of before and after the loss of the right hand ads column!

Elisa Gabbert
Mar 03, 2016

Hi Bridget, the "data sources" section at the bottom of the post should answer all your questions. Thanks!

Corey Zeimen
Mar 03, 2016

Very nice graphic.

You guys should do one that breaks down by niche some time, what a link magnet that would be.

I can say if you are even moderately good at writing ad and landing page copy, these benchmark ctr's and conversion rates are very easy to beat. So many people out there are just flying by the seat of their pants.

Jeremy Templer
Mar 03, 2016

Good answers to some frequent questions from advertisers.

I'm curious to know if (1) you restricted data to generic keywords so that results would not be skewed by any well-known brands in your data set and (2) if you see much variance in average CTR and conversion rates in other geographies.


Mark Irvine
Mar 07, 2016

Hi Jeremy,

This data did go through some cleansing to remove advertisers whom were exclusively bidding on their branded terms to prevent that upward skew. Additionally, averages noted here were measured as medians to avoid any one large advertiser from being able to skew the averages.

While these advertisers were all based in the US, we do see differences in performance internationally:

Preston Miller
Mar 04, 2016

Mark, thank you for sharing. I have been trying to find this kind of data for quite a while now. I'm curious to see how Google's recent right rail ad changes will effect CPCs, CPAs, and conversion rates in the future.

Mark Irvine
Mar 07, 2016

Hi Preston,
So far, we haven't seen drastic changes in the performance since the changes last month. The change last month only affected advertisers on desktop, particularly in the lower positions. We've looked into the effects of that change in this post:

The data here is for accounts in all positions on all devices.

Mar 06, 2016

Do these figures include branded keywords or just generic keywords?

Mark Irvine
Mar 07, 2016

The figures omit advertisers whom were exclusively bidding on branded terms.
Averages presented were median values to prevent a large advertiser with particularly good or bad performance from skewing the average.

Mar 08, 2016

amazing job! easy to understand, and very well focussed. thanks a lot.
Miguel Girón

Mar 08, 2016

Greta job! Any accounting for the impact of fraud and bots on CTR?

Mark Irvine
Mar 09, 2016

The data was pulled directly from AdWords, which does have provisions for omitting automated or fraudulent traffic, as opposed to Google Analytics.
Additionally, reported averages are medians to prevent any skew from any account that may have artificially high CTRs due to automatic traffic.

Mar 09, 2016

Very good and practical info! It could be great to have the same info for Canada so we could compare. ;)

Mark Irvine
Mar 09, 2016

Hi Rachel,

We see similar CTRs and CVRs up north in these industries for the most part, but CPCs and CPAs certainly differ.
You may want to check this post out for more information on international CPCs.

On average, we see Canadians pay roughly 29% less than their US peers per click.

Mar 10, 2016

Is the above benchmark is worldwide data ?

If yes, can we have country wise segregation as well ?

Mark Irvine
Mar 14, 2016

Hi Chandan,

The above data is reflective of a sample of US based accounts.
We have some international data in this post:

Mar 15, 2016

These do seem quite low in terms of CPC.

The brand/non-brand split has been mentioned and your response has been "some cleansing to remove advertisers whom were EXCLUSIVELY bidding on their branded terms to prevent that upward skew." (Caps mine)

So if an account had brand/non-brand terms, i.e. not exlusively bidding on just brand, their average CPC would be included in your data set for calculating that metric?

If that is the case, that will certainly have a dampening effect of the reported CPC. Would you agree that is a fair assement?

Mark Irvine
Mar 15, 2016

Yes, those accounts are included in the sample. The median value of all of these accounts is reported as the average CPC here.

Mar 16, 2016

Great info! Passing it on to everyone!

Jason Hulott
Mar 18, 2016

I would be interested in UK centric data or at the very least have finance and insurance split as they are very different animals. Be interesting to see if one or the other is carrying the high conversion rate.

Inez Mahony
Mar 21, 2016

I love this report! Is there any more recent data than Q2 2015 and when are you planning to release the next update?

Mar 23, 2016

How does search look with branded & non-branded segments? Last AdWords click conversion attribution?

Mar 24, 2016

Could you define "CPA"?
Depending on industry or product, the CPA could be a sale, or just a newsletter sign up. I managed many ppc accounts and every client had a different definition of an "action".

Elisa Gabbert
Mar 25, 2016

Cost per action or cost per acquisition, but as you note, the exact definition of "action" is going to vary depending on the business.

Mar 28, 2016

Can you define your "education" industry and what exactly it represents? It is higher education, education and tutoring, etc...? Some clarification on exactly what type of organizations make up each industry would be helpful.

Apr 07, 2016

Any sense of how these CPCs and CTRs compare to prior years? Curious how they might have changed as Google has changed their SEO/SEM formats and rankings.

Apr 12, 2016

Great content, and so well presented! I'm having trouble figuring out under what category we would fall - a residential electrician and heating & cooling contractor? Please advise, as I've not been able to find any benchmarks like these with which to compare our efforts. Thank you!

Elisa Gabbert
Apr 12, 2016

I think that would fall under home services!

Apr 21, 2016

Thank you for sharing so much info. Very useful. We are planning to move our corporation to a different jurisdiction. I was wondering if the effective rates paid by Google depends on the country from which the broadcasting of AdSenses adverts is done. Please advise, since this would be helpful in our decision.

david Akinwale
May 03, 2016

Nice one. I have to read and read, although I am searching for something and I came across this site

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