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Paid Search, Mobile Spending Increase in Q1 2012

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The U.S. paid search market grew 16 percent YoY in Q1 2012, according to the Adobe Systems Global Digital Advertising Q1 2012 Update. For the same period, IgnitionOne puts total U.S. search spend growth at 30.3 percent in their Global Online Advertising Report. Either way, it’s great news for search marketers, especially those participating in the mobile search space.

Paid Search Spend YoY IgnitionOne

Marketers Spending More on Mobile

Adobe’s report has U.S. marketers increasing their mobile ad spend to 8 percent of all search spend, while those in the U.K. allotted 11 percent to mobile in Q1. Tablets alone accounted for 4.25 percent. Adobe predicts mobile and tablet advertising will continue to appeal to advertisers in the short term, given their “disproportionately” low CPCs, compared to desktop PCs.

IgnitionOne put the amount of U.S. paid search spend dedicated to mobile slightly higher, at 12.4 percent. This represents an overall increase in mobile search spend of 221.1 percent over the same quarter last year, though the report warns that this growth rate has slowed since Q4 2011. Clicks on mobile ads increased 246.1 percent YoY.

Yahoo/Bing Increase Market Share, But Kill Their ROI Advantage Over Google

According to IgnitionOne, Yahoo/Bing had their best quarter since Q2 2010, with a 46.4 percent increase in U.S. search advertising spend YoY. For their part, Google saw lower but no less impressive 26.6 percent growth YoY. Compared to Q4 2011 (the holiday season), Bing actually saw total ad spend increase 14.3 percent, while Google’s spend fell 5.4 percent.

Adobe notes that Google’s CPC fell 5 percent over last year, while Yahoo/Bing CPC rates were 18 percent higher YoY.

“As a result, the Bing/Yahoo ROI advantage over Google no longer exists,” says the report. “Note that when Yahoo Japan converted to the Google ad serving platform from Bing/Yahoo, CPC rates dropped significantly. This indicates that Google, on average, charges a lower premium to search advertisers.”

Outlook for Rest of 2012

Marketers are missing out if they’re not targeting mobile, said Roger Barnette, President of IgnitionOne.

“While the growth in mobile ad spend has been an ongoing trend, I am impressed by the level of activity and click-throughs on tablets. This should be a wakeup call for marketers who are not yet leveraging search advertising on these devices,” Barnette said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Adobe predicts U.S. search spend will increase 10 to 15 percent throughout 2012, with tablets and mobile taking up to 20 percent of all search spend by Q4 2012. Marin Software also recently predicted that smart mobile devices will account for a full 25 percent of paid search clicks on Google by the end of 2012.

Adobe also offers a bit of advice to marketers in their report: “In a rational marketplace, the CPC rates on tablets should be identical to desktop CPC rates if the conversion rates are comparable. Furthermore, current trends indicate that tablets may cannibalize smartphone and desktop search spend as investments continue to shift to tablet devices.”


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