Mobile paid search clicks, spend jump in Q4

Mobile paid search put in a stellar performance in the fourth quarter of 2011 with a pair of new reports indicating mobile?s share of paid clicks doubled during the period while retailers increased their mobile search spend by 269 percent.

The growth in paid mobile search supports the growing penetration of smartphones and tablets, with consumers increasingly using these devices as part of the shopping experience. During the fourth quarter holiday shopping season, many retailers reported significant increases in mobile traffic as well as sales through mobile devices.

?The huge jump in percentage of total search spend going towards mobile ads in retail on Black Friday was impressive,? said Roger Barnette, president of IgnitionOne, New York. ?It makes a very good case for the changing consumer behavior in offline retail towards leveraging smartphones and tablets in the purchase flow.

?It is clear from the data that marketers must include mobile search as part of their media mix,? he said. ?Because of this growth it is important for marketers to optimize campaigns for mobile and to optimize landing pages to improve conversions once traffic is driven there.

?We believe there is room for more growth and that we will see that in upcoming quarters.

Retailers' budgets grow
Mobile search advertising among retailers was up 269 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, according to the IgnitionOne report.

Mobile search accounted for 14.2 percent of total retail search budgets during this period, peaking on Black Friday at 24 percent. During the fourth quarter of 2010, mobile accounted for just 5.2 percent of retailers? budgets.

Overall, U.S. paid search spending grew 22 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to IgnitionOne.

Mobile search ad impressions increased 317 percent during the same period.

Marin Software found that mobile?s share of paid search clicks doubled in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with the third quarter. Smartphone and tablet users accounted for 10 percent of all U.S. paid search clicks.

Four percent of all clicks on paid search ads in the U.S. were made on a tablet and 6 percent on a smartphone.

?The rate of growth was very surprising, doubling share on a quarter over quarter basis,? said Matt Lawson, vice president of marketing for Marin Software, San Francisco.

?Consumer adoption of smartphones and tablet devices is partly responsible for this growth,? he said. ?Advertisers also see favorable performance characteristics on mobile.

?According to our research campaigns run on mobile devices had higher click-through rates and lower costs-per-click than campaigns run on desktop computers. We expect mobile advertising to continue to experience rapid investment as long as these performance differences remain.?

Separate mobile search strategy
The U.S. Online Advertising Report from Marin also shows that the click through rate of search ads served on tablets was 38 percent higher than the CTR of ads on desktops when compared with the third quarter of 2011. Smartphones yielded a 31 percent higher CTR.

During the fourth quarter, Marin saw paid search marketers allocate a larger portion of their budgets to mobile devices than ever before.

The results from both reports reflect the importance of marketers targeting mobile device users separately in their search efforts and create ad copy specifically for mobile.

Marketers should also modify creative to account for different size screens, recognize the impulse nature of mobile and account for the drive-to-store aspect of mobile.

?This requires separating desktop and mobile campaigns, and rewriting ad copy for mobile-only campaigns,? Mr. Lawson said.

?Given the smaller screen for most mobile devices, this means shorter and more focused ad copy,? he said. ?Also, targeting copy to specific device users has shown to increase click-through rates.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile  Marketer, New York