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Q4 was a strong quarter for search advertising spend, according to a MarketingCharts review of several recent reports. In fact, spending was up by double-digits among clients of IgnitionOne [download page], Merkle [download page] and Kenshoo, with each also reporting a double-digit increase in clicks. (The IgnitionOne and Merkle reports cover US activity – with IgnitionOne looking specifically at Google search – while the Kenshoo study covered global client activity.)

Search ad impressions were also on the rise for those reporting this metric. Figures surrounding costs-per-click (CPCs) were more muted, as IgnitionOne and iProspect [download page] reported moderate increases but Merkle and Kenshoo noted no change on a year-over-year basis.

In contrast to the generally positive changes in spending, clicks and impressions, there seemed to be some declines in click-through rates (CTRs). Both IgnitionOne and iProspect said that clients saw double-digit decreases in CTR in Q4, while Kenshoo (which looked at global activity) found a slight increase of 4%.

Separate data from Merkle indicated that smartphones accounted for 51% of Google search ad clicks in Q4, taking a majority share for the first time. All told, smartphones grew to account for 47% share of paid search clicks across search engines, per the analysis, a sizable increase from one-third of clicks in the year-earlier period.

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