Google charges organisations to display their adverts in the advertising section of a Google search. Under a model known as cost-per-click advertising, advertisers have to pay only when someone clicks on their adverts, but during an emergency appeal this can happen thousands of times every hour, causing costs for charities to escalate rapidly.
According to the Google website, charities using discounted rates under the company’s Google Ad Grants programme have a maximum cost-per-click of $2 and can receive $10,000 of in-kind advertising each month.
Last year it was revealed that the DEC spent £1.5m on Google advertising for its Typhoon Haiyan appeal for the Philippines in 2013, which eventually raised more than £90m.
The DEC confirmed at the time that a similar amount was spent on the Nepal Earthquake Appeal, which eventually raised £87m.
The DEC’s East Africa Crisis Appeal has so far raised more than £50m in three weeks to help approximately 16 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan who face starvation because of drought or conflict.
Google has refused to confirm whether the East Africa Crisis Appeal will get more than the standard Google Ad Grants discount.
A spokeswoman for the DEC said: "We don’t publish details of what we spend on individual fundraising channels because this information could be useful to competitors for future as well as current appeals. However, for press adverts I can confirm that we get a buy-one-get-one-free deal from all the outlets we use. The return on investment is at £3.34 over the past nine appeals.
"With regards to Google, we get a Google AdWords grant, which is the same standard grant that other charities receive. Our return on investment for pay-per-click for the current appeal is very good at £34."
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