Q4 ’11 Mobile Search Ad Spend Up 269% Y-O-Y

ignitionone-q4-mobile-search-spend.jpgMobile search advertising spend grew 269% year-over-year in Q4 2011, accounting for 14.2% of retailers’ total paid search budgets during the quarter, with impressions also up 317%, according to [download page] a January 2012 report from IgnitionOne. This investment appears to have paid off: according to data from IBM Smarter Commerce, 14.6% of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a device in December 2011, more than double the rate of 5.6% from the previous year, while sales from mobile devices doubled, reaching 11%, compared to 5.5% in December 2010.

Overall Search Spend Also Up

ignitionone-q4-search-spend.jpgData from IgnitionOne’s report indicates that US paid search spend grew 22.4% year-over-year in Q4, and 20.4% quarter-over-quarter. December, being the strongest month of the quarter, drove much of the growth. There were also year-over-year increases in impressions (20%), clicks (34%), and CTR (12%) in Q4. Marin Software clients saw similar gains, with click volume up 56% year-over-year in Q4 [download page], along with a 27% increase in impressions, and a 23% rise in CTR.

IgnitionOne’s results from within the retail sector were even more impressive in Q4: holiday shopping pushed search spending for the sector up 26% year-over-year, while there were also significant increases in impressions (42%), clicks (42%), transactions (67%), and revenue (43%). According to January 2012 data from Performics, its retailer clients spent 58% more on paid search in Q4 2011 than in Q4 2010, driving a 53% increase in clicks.

Although cost per click for Performics’ retailer clients grew just 5% for Q4 compared to the previous year, IgnitionOne’s study found even better results, with marketers overall benefiting from an 8.6% year-over-year and 2.3% quarter-over-quarter decrease in CPCs. And while Marin Software’s clients saw a 15% increase in CPCs for the quarter, they enjoyed a year-over-year decrease of 14%.

Meanwhile, global paid search spending by high-tech and consumer electronics firms in 2011 was up 21% from 2010, according to [download page] a January 2012 Covario report that analyzed the spending patterns of its customers. Global search spend in Q4 rose 7% quarter-over-quarter and 28% year-over-year.

Online Sales Up 7.5% In December

US online sales were up 7.5% in December 2011 as compared to the previous year, according to other findings from IBM Smarter Commerce. Department stores led the charge with an 18% rise, with apparel stores (16.3%), health and beauty (16%) and home goods (15.6%) also reported strong increases.

Other Findings:

  • According to IgnitionOne, Google maintained its US market share lead in Q4, commanding 81.8% of the market, compared to 18.2% for Yahoo/Bing, although the latter posted stronger year-over-year spending growth in November and December. Marin Software’s analysis shows that Google accounted for 81% of paid search spend and 83% of all paid clicks during Q4. On a year-over-year basis, Marin’s clients saw a 48% increase in CTR on Google, while CPC declined by 7%. On Yahoo/Bing, customers realized a 44% higher click volume, combined with a 9% CPC increase and a 1% CTR increase. Meanwhile, the Covario research found that globally, Google also dominated the paid search scene in 2011 with market share of 76%, down 2% from the previous year, with annual spending growth of 27% over 2010. Global paid search spending on Yahoo/Bing, by contrast, fell 18% from 2010.
  • IgnitionOne found that European search advertising had a strong quarter, with spend (14%), clicks (22%), and CTR (19%) all increasing year-over-year.
  • Also per IgnitionOne, growth in display advertising grew in Q4, with spending up 9.3% and impressions up 31.5% year-over-year. Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange captured the entire increased budget, seeing a 105% increase in spend on the platform.
  • Segmenting its client base by platform, Marin found that mobile and tablet devices accounted for 7% share of impressions and 10% share of clicks during Q4 2011. CPCs were highest on tablets (1.91%), followed by smartphones (1.25%) and computers (0.95%).
  • According to IBM, Apple’s iPhone and iPad took the top 2 ranks for mobile device retail traffic in December 2011 (5.2% and 4.3%, respectively), ahead of Android (4.1%). Shoppers using the iPad also continued to drive more retail purchases than any other device, with conversion rates reaching 6.3% for the month, compared to 3.1% for all mobile devices.

About the Data: IgnitionOne’s data is based on a series of reports which have tracked more than 79 billion impressions and more than 1.7 billion clicks on Google and Yahoo!/Bing search networks, Google AdEx, and other display networks from January 1, 2006 through December 19, 2011.

The IBM Coremetrics Benchmark captures online marketing results and commerce data from more than 500 contributing US retailers.

Marin Software’s results are based on a sample of the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, which includes over 1000 advertisers and agencies that invest over $2.7 billion annually in paid-search. The data sample and findings skew towards the behavior of large organizations and more sophisticated advertisers.

Covario’s quarterly Global Paid Search Spend Analysis is based on the spending patterns of its customers, which consist of high-tech and consumer electronics firms that are global advertisers and leverage paid search advertising in more than 45 countries globally and on many different search engine platforms.