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Google Enhanced Campaigns has little impact on paid search performance: report

With Google?s cost-per-click rates on smartphones up 5.2 percent year-over-year and flat compared to the previous quarter, a report from The Search Agency being released today suggests that the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns has not had a big impact on marketers.

The latest quarterly State of Paid Search Report points to how search-related activity continues to move to mobile and the important role that Google plays here, with smartphones and tablets making up more than one-third of total clicks on Google for the first time during the third quarter. A key takeaway is that Enhanced Campaigns has not resulted in significant change in the performance of search campaigns.

?Enhanced Campaigns really hasn't changed the landscape in terms of performance,? said Keith Wilson, vice president of agency products at The Search Agency, Los Angeles. ?We can still be very targeted with our ad copy and execution.

?Bid management style is different, but largely we haven't seen a change in performance across search campaigns as a result of the release of Enhanced Campaigns,? he said. ?Enhanced Campaigns created a lot of editorial work, but it hasn't really resulted in a big increase in growth for our advertisers.

?Our partners were largely opted into mobile, so incremental growth in traffic on mobile devices is trending at a previous growth level we had called "pre-enhanced campaigns.?

Mobile growth
Key findings from the report include that Google's tablet CPC rate increased 14.2 year-over-year and 6.6 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Google is also seeing strength in impression share by device on tablets, with 11.8 percent of impressions coming from tablets, a 34.7 percent increase year-over-year.

Paid search budgets on tablets continues to rise, increasing 87.6 percent year-over-year while the total spend on smartphones was up by 118.1 percent.

Overall, smartphones and tablets combined made up 28.7 percent of search budgets, up 65.9 percent year-over-year, according to the report.

The total number of tablet impressions increased by 105 percent and smartphone impressions were up 151.7 percent in the third quarter year-over-year.

The growth rates on mobile outpace the numbers for paid search overall, with the total number of impressions increasing 37.1 percent year-over-year and the total spend increasing 23 percent year-over-year.

Impression share
Google saw a much higher impression growth rate for paid search in the third quarter of 2013 compared to Bing, which could be because advertisers are looking to expand click volume following the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns on Google.

Google continues to gain impression share from Bing, with its share reaching 78.8 percent in the third quarter. However, Google's share of total advertiser spend fell to 82.8 percent, a 2.9 percent decrease year-over-year.

Smartphones had a 19.7 percent share of clicks on Google during the third quarter while tablets had a 13.3 percent share. In comparison, only 15.7 percent of clicks come from smartphones and tablets on Bing.

The click-through rate for Google on smartphones decreased 19.3 percent year-over-year and 7.7 percent compared with the previous quarter. On tablets, the click-through rate decreased 26.6 percent year-over-year and 6.9 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Monetizing across devices
In comparison, the click-through rates on Bing are trending in a more positive direction. Year-over-year click-through rates were down 11.7 percent on Bing but were up 34.4 percent compared with the previous quarter.

On tablets, click-through rates for Bing were up 56.9 percent year-over-year but were down 10.1 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Google continues to focus on ways to make it easy for marketers to monetize across devices, a key point of differentiation from other search engines.

?Google has a new technology that is able to measure across devices called Estimated Conversions that came out the beginning of October based on more traffic being pushed through to mobile,? Mr. Wilson said. ?It will enable Google to really drive greater analytics for advertisers and is not something that Bing and other search engines, or even other tracking technologies, have.

?Google's roadmap is perfectly aligned for this cross device world and their whole business approach for search marketers around Chrome, Gmail and Android is important because it's a continuing trend where smartphone and tablet devices are becoming the majority of traffic,? he said.

?Search marketers really need to focus on monetizing across devices, and incorporate local intent signals or device intent signals into a consumer centric approach.?

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