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Smartphones have grown to represent half of all paid search clicks during Q4 2017, according to Merkle’s latest quarterly Digital Marketing Report [download page], covering client activity. While smartphones passed that mark on Google a year earlier, they’ve yet to have the same impact on Yahoo and Bing, dragging down their cross-platform average.

For the quarter, smartphones represented:

  • 55% of Google search ad clicks (up from 54% in Q3);
  • 24% of search ad clicks on Yahoo Gemini (up from 21% in Q3); and
  • 14% of search ad clicks on Bing (up from 12% in Q3).

Smartphones’ 50% share of search ad clicks is an impressive result considering that these devices accounted for just 29% of search ad spending during the quarter.

Meanwhile, tablets’ influence in the paid search space continues to drop. In Q4, tablets accounted for just 8% of search ad clicks and an equal 8% of search ad spending. That’s down from close to one-fifth of clicks in early 2014.

In other paid search-related highlights from the Q4 report, Merkle reveals that:

  • US paid search costs-per-click spiked, a result supported by iProspect’s Q4 paid search trends report [pdf];
  • Ads in positions 3 and 4 on Google search accounted for 12% of mobile non-brand text ad clicks, down from a peak of 15% during the year-earlier period;
  • Google Maps produced 7% of Google search ad clicks during Q4 on mobile phones for brick-and-mortar advertisers;
  • Product Listing Ads (PLAs) represented 55% of Google search ad clicks for US retailers, up from 48% a year earlier;
  • Mobile PLA spending growth continues to taper off, but still grew by 42% year-over-year in Q4; and
  • While Product Ads aren’t having quite the same impact on Bing as they are on Google, they nonetheless now represent one-quarter of paid search clicks on Bing for US retailers.

About the Data: Merkle describes its methodology as follows:

“Figures are derived from samples of Merkle clients who have worked with Merkle for each marketing channel. Where applicable, these samples are restricted to those clients who 1) have maintained active programs with Merkle for at least 19 months, 2) have not significantly changed their strategic objectives or product offerings, and 3) meet a minimum ad-spend threshold. All trended figures presented in this report represent same-site changes over the given time period. Unless otherwise specified, the data points in this report are derived from the North American market region.”

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