I was working on a Google Adwords campaign for a client last week when I realized that Google Adwords is a good indicator of a city’s Internet usage. As I thought more about this, I realized that the Google Reach tool would give me an opportunity to rank cities independent of their country’s national metrics. Google is the dominant search engine and its network is accessible from all of the major cities in the world, with possibly the exception of some countries that have chosen to lock themselves out. As Google advertising is its largest sources of revenues it made sense that their metrics are consistent throughout the world.
I realize that some of you do not know the details about how Google Adwords work and therefore I’m going to give you a quick explanation while trying to keep you from getting bored. This explanation is not intended as a detailed explanation of online advertising or search engine optimization so please do not send me emails telling me that my explanation ignored some fundamental details. The explanation is intended to give the readers that do not know about Google Adwords a basis from which to understand the metrics I am sharing with them on this post.
Google Adwords is the tool that Google provides advertisers in order to purchase the advertising that is displayed alongside search results. The advertising are the results that have “sponsored links” next to them on the page, that shows you your search results.
One of the tools advertisers have when creating an advertisement is the Google Reach. The Google Reach tool “is an estimate of how many people in a location could” see an advertisement. The beauty of this tool, for the purposes that I’m using it here for, is that it is a number derived by the “unique cookies from people visiting Google sites”. Because it is derived from the cookies of visitors, it gives a good idea of the number of people actively on the Internet for that particular city.
Because Google tracks actual user transactions it makes sense to me that they are a better indicator of how many individuals are using the Internet in a particular city. All other metrics, like Internet connections, seem less accurate to me when compared to transactions by cookies. Although I realize some users obscure the cookies or use proxies to avoid being tracked, their numbers are so insignificant that they are unlikely to make much of a difference in the results. The other significant advantage to using this tool is that the cookies being tracked is independent of the Internet provider or the device connected to Google.
Since El Paso politicos love to compare El Paso to other cities I thought it would be a fun exercise to compare Internet penetration in El Paso with other cities.
There are many options on the Google tool, however, I chose to keep it simple and get an idea of the number of users just on Google itself, ignoring the rest of the network including Youtube. El Paso’s population is about 674,000. There are about 30 cities in the United States that have populations over half a million. Many of those cities are significantly wealthier than El Paso so I decided to pick the two cities El Paso loves to compare itself to – Albuquerque and Portland, the two closest in population. I also added Detroit, the closest to El Paso’s population and Denver. Of course, it would not be El Paso without including its sister city, Cd. Juárez. Additionally, for the fun of it, I included Quebec and Winnipeg, two Canadian cities with similar populations.
I am sure you already know where El Paso ranked on that list. However, I thought you might want to look at some actual metrics to see exactly where El Paso stands. The cities are ranked by number of Internet users according to the Google Reach tool. The number next to the city is the rank by population compared to the other cities on my list.
- Quebec-5 (13.5 million)
- Denver-4 (4.6 million)
- Winnipeg-6 (1.5 million)
- Albuquerque-8 (1.4 million)
- Portland-7 (2.8 million)
- Cd. Juárez-1 (917k)
- El Paso-3 (859k)
- Detroit-2 (836k)
You will note that El Paso is second to last on the list however, it is important to note that Detroit is in the midst of an economic catastrophe due to its local government running the city into bankruptcy through over taxation. I believe El Paso would have come in dead last were it not for Detroit’s economic calamities.