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PPC Trends: Recovery on the Distant Horizon?

Is anyone else seeing some encouraging signs? April Year over Year numbers for our clients were certainly not good, but they weren't as awful as February and March.
  • Encouraging Signs: (As a weather analogy this would be not so much rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds as: it doesn't look like it's raining as hard off in the distance)
    1. Conversion Rates seem to have rebounded: Where Q1 saw median CR across our clients 5% below the previous year, so far in April CR is actually up YoY by 3%.
    2. Average Order Value seems to have stabalized: still down 5% YoY as was the case in Q1, but not falling
    3. Competitive PPC Sales were down more than 20% in Q1, so far in April the median has moved in the right direction but still 17% down.
  • Somewhat Discouraging Signs:
    1. Costs are only down 13% Year over Year in April, where they matched sales at over 20% down in Q1. Retailers are pushing the gas harder to try to drive the top line.
    2. Brand Sales are still way off: nearly 30% down Year over Year. This is some combination of general traffic volume decline, heavy consumer use of coupons through affiliates and email promos, and in some cases pull back in other offline media channels that drive folks to the web.
From our view, it seems retailers still face a sizeable drop in the number of consumers shopping, but those who are in the marketplace are more likely to spend money. Shear speculation that perhaps folks who were playing it safe financially, fearing loss of employment are now feeling less concerned? Or, everything still really stinks, retailers are frantically hitting the gas in PPC trying to generate more top line, but otherwise nothing has changed. I prefer the first view, but I'd love to hear from others about what they see. Do you folks see any encouraging signs?
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