Mobile To Drive 50 Percent Of Google Paid Search Clicks By End Of 2015 [Study]

Mobile paid search saw rapid growth last year, owing to both the rise in smartphone and tablet use as well as to the introduction of enhanced campaigns, which largely bakes mobile targeting into advertisers’ campaigns. In 2013, 19 percent of Google’s ad revenue came from mobile search ads, and it’s expected to rise to 30 percent over the next 3 years, according to eMarketer.

Taking a deeper look at its own data on mobile ad performance for Google, Marin Software released its 2014 annual mobile search advertising report today.

As Marin EVP Wister Walcott highlighted in his talk at Marketing Land Summit at SMX West last week, the company projects that mobile devices will account for 50 percent of all paid search clicks on Google in the United States by December 2015. Last year in the US, the share of paid search clicks from mobile devices rose from 21.8 percent in January to 34.2 percent in December. Paid search clicks from smartphones almost doubled throughout 2013.

Source: Marin Software

U.S. Mobile Search Click Share. Source: Marin Software

“We’re at the cusp of mobile becoming the dominant channel in search marketing,” said Matt Ackley, chief marketing officer at Marin Software in a statement. “Consumers are becoming much more comfortable using their smartphones and tablets to complete transactions online, and as we see that comfort level rise advertisers will follow suit with continued investment and optimization in mobile.”

Continuing to look at US trends, mobile share of spend shot up 45 percent from January to December 2013, topping off at 27.9 percent. Marin estimates that mobile budget share will rise above one-third of paid search budgets by then end of 2014.

Mobile Spend Share 2013 Marin

US Mobile Spend Share. Source: Marin Software

Marin saw CPCs rise year-over-year across devices in the US, with tablets seeing the highest increase of 22.6 percent. Mobile CPCs rose 20.8 percent, while desktop CPC rose by 10.7 percent. That said, overall smartphone CPCs continued to be discounted by 30 percent and tablet CPCs by about 8 percent when compared to desktop CPCs.

While CPCs remained lower on mobile and tablets, advertisers saw conversion rates on these devices rise throughout 2013. In the US, conversion rates on tablets rose above desktop for the first time. Smartphone conversion rate still lags at 4.4% compared to 5.3 percent on desktop and 5.5 percent on tablets. Conversion rate growth year-over-year on  smartphones and tablets have increased substantially at 57.1 percent and 66.7 percent respectively, versus 35.9 percent for desktop.

US Conversion Rate By Device

US Conversion Rate By Device. Source: Marin Software

On average, mobile click-through rates (CTR) are higher than on tablets and desktops. In addition to the fact that users often have a higher sense of urgency when searching on smartphones, mobile CTRs are also higher due to the fact that fewer ad impressions available per search on smartphones. The average CTR on smartphones was 3.75 percent in 2013, compared to 2.70 percent on tablets and 2.29 percent on computers.

Across all devices, however, average CTR is fairly stable when looking at ad positions 1 to 5. Click-through rates plummet nearly 50 percent on every device after position 2.

Source: Marin Software

US CTR By Ad Position. Source: Marin Software

The study encompasses companies in all major industry sectors across 13 countries. The advertisers included skew toward big spenders — those spending upwards of $100,000 per month on digital advertising. For more details on mobile performance in the UK, Eurozone and other regions, download the report here.