Global paid search investment continued its rise through the first half of 2014, according to Covario’s latest quarterly analysis of search spend.
Overall spend among the firm’s clients rose 21 percent in the second quarter year-over-year, and 2 percent over the first quarter of 2014. Mobile search spend nearly doubled, rising 98 percent year-over-year and 6 percent quarter-over-quarter even as cost-per-click prices fell.
Overall impressions dropped off 15 percent year-over-year, which Alex Funk, Covario’s director of global paid media strategy and author of the study, says is largely due to a decline in desktop impressions and larger ad units. Those ad units, loaded up with extensions as well as Product Listing Ads (PLAs), however, drove overall click-through rates (CTRs) up 39 percent year-over-year and click volume up 18 percent compared to Q1.
Cost-per-click (CPC) prices rose 12 percent year-over-year and ticked up 2.4 percent over the previous quarter.
The impressions trend did reverse itself somewhat in Q2, and click volume and CTR fell on modest spend increases in the second quarter compared to Q1. Covario’s clients are concentrated in B2B, tech, retail and consumer electronics.
Mobile impressions, clicks and costs all had large double-digit growth increases in Q2 2014. Yet, mobile CPCs remained significantly discounted — off 43 percent compared to desktop clicks — and growth was flat compared to the previous year and actually fell 6 percent compared to Q1 2014. Tablets accounted for 62 percent of Q2 mobile spend, with smartphones rounding out the remaining 38 percent.
Americas: The Americas continued to lead in paid search spend, with investments highest in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Chile and Brazil. Spend rose 31 percent year-over-year in the region, but remained flat compared to Q1 2014.
Funk advises advertisers in the Americas to budget for a 15 to 20 percent boost in ad spend to account for increases in PLAs, mobile, and higher CTRs — with 80 percent allocated to Google and the rest primarily to Bing.
EMEA: An increase in click activity and higher CTRs contributed to modest growth coming back to Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Spend rose 3 percent year-over-year and 5 percent over the first quarter. Funk recommends advertisers plan for spend increases of 10 to 15 percent in the regions, with 95 percent allocated to Google, except in Yandex-dominated Russia and Eastern Europe, where that engine should dominate budgets.
APAC: In the Asia/Pacific region (APAC), growth was a mere 1 percent year-over-year, but up 6 percent compared to the previous quarter. Funk says CPCs fell by 7 percent in the region, but click volume rose 9 percent and CTRs jumped 23 percent. Baidu accounted for 25 percent of the overall APAC PPC market share, Google received 69 percent and Naver — South Korea’s leading search engine — got 4 percent of overall ad spend. Funk also recommends a 10 to 15 percent budget increase for the second half of the year to advertisers in the APAC region.