Tablets Offer Best Bang for Search Ad Buck

marin-return-on-paid-search-spend-by-device-march2012.jpgTablets had a better return on ad spend (ROAS) for search advertisers in 2011 than computers and smartphones, finds Marin Software in a March 2012 report. Looking at 2011 data on a cost per conversion basis, the study finds that desktop computers had a 25% higher average cost per conversion than tablets, while smartphones had a 106% higher cost. Although computers had a slightly higher conversion rate (5.6%) than tablets (4.9%), cost per click (CPC) on tablets was 24.1% lower than on computers ($0.63 vs. $0.83). And while smartphones had the highest click through rate (4.1%) and lowest CPC ($0.53), they suffered from the lowest conversion rate (2%).

The study finds that tablets are a growing part of the equation, too. Marin data shows that tablets held 31.6% share of all mobile clicks in July 2011, before growing to 37.9% by year-end, a 20% rise. Indeed, Marin analysis suggests that tablets will account for 45% share of all clicks by December 2012.

Mobile Share of Clicks More Than Doubles

marin-share-of-paid-search-clicks-mobile-devices-march2012.jpgThe impact of mobile devices on search grew continuously throughout the year. While mobile devices accounted for just 5.3% of all clicks on Google in January, by December, they had climbed to 12.3% share, representing a 132% increase. At current rates, Marin estimates that mobile devices will account for one-quarter of all paid search clicks on Google by December of this year.

Indeed, mobile search will be the driving force behind 2012 search growth, according to February analysis from Performics. Looking at its retailer clients, Performics found that mobile paid search clicks continued to gain share in January, reaching 21.5% of all clicks, with tablets (39.6%) again a significant contributor. Considering the release of the iPad 3 and new Android tablets, the company predicts that mobile click share could rise to as much as 28% of all search clicks over the next 6 months.

Share of Spend Also Jumps

Data from Marin’s report indicates that ad budgets on mobile devices also saw a significant rise during the year. Beginning the year at 3.4% of advertiser search budgets, mobile devices had reached 8.7% of all advertiser spend by December 2011, a 156% increase. Marin forecasts this share to grow even faster this year, estimating mobile to account for 23% of paid search budgets on Google by December.

Other Findings:

  • Of the various regions studied by Marin, Japan had the largest share of clicks held by smartphones (9.6%) and lowest by tablets (0.7%). Tablets held the highest share of clicks in Australia (2.5%), followed by the UK (2.3%), and the US (2.1%).
  • Computers made up 99.4% of ad spend in Brazil, the highest of the regions examined. Tablets accounted for 2.1% of ad spend in Australia and 1.6% of spend in the US.
  • Click through rates were highest on tablets in every region save for Canada and the US, where smartphones were higher.
  • Cost per click was highest for computers and lowest for smartphones in every region.