Product Listing Ads (PLA) provide a richer and more engaging search experience for shoppers. With the share of spend on PLA campaigns increasing 600% in Q4 of 2012, online retailers will undoubtedly continue investing more time and budget towards this ad format in 2013. In fact, in Q4 of 2012, online retailers allocated as much as 30% of their AdWords budget to PLA campaigns. As a result of this recent surge in adoption and spend, Marin Software has published a white paper that examines PLA performance throughout 2012 and presents five best practices for deploying, managing, and optimizing PLA campaigns.
Download the comprehensive 8 page PLA white paper here.
Over the last three years, the rapid proliferation of tablet devices has changed the way consumers and advertisers interact across the search landscape. Consumers now rely on their tablets more than ever before to gain access to local business information, product details, reviews, coupons, and competitors. And advertisers responded with relevant ads targeted towards these tablet users.
However, the way these devices are used by consumers today has resulted in a seismic shift in thinking by Google. In an effort to simplify the management of paid search campaigns across devices, location, and time of day, Google upgraded AdWords with enhanced campaigns in early February. According to Google and their data, the line between desktops and tablets is blurring, with search behavior and engagement on the two devices aligning.
A recent 2013 mobile report: The State of Mobile Search Advertising – How Smartphones and Tablets are Changing Paid Search released by Marin Software supports Google’s claim that consumer behavior on tablets and desktops share increasing similarities. However, the data also validates the perception that desktops and tablets are inherently different and perform accordingly so. Regardless, to remain successful in a multi-device world, search marketers must embrace enhanced campaigns and continue delivering a relevant and engaging ad experience.
What Does the Data Say?
Over the last two years, tablets have become a device segment that search marketers can’t ignore. In fact, the share of overall paid search clicks served by Google on tablets increased from 6% to 10.7% in 2012. Consumers are increasingly using tablet devices to research and make purchases on-the-go and, more importantly, in the comfort of their home where desktop devices have traditionally reigned. Marin projects that by the end of 2013, the share of tablet clicks will double in the US, accounting for 20% of Google’s paid search clicks.
In 2012, paid search conversion rates for tablet devices increased by 31%, while smartphone and desktop conversion rates increased by 9% and 7%, respectively. By December 2013, Marin estimates that tablet conversion rates will surpass those of desktops. In addition to this rapid rise in conversion rate, Marin also found that tablet ads are continuing to outperform desktop ads. Click-through rates (CTR) for search ads on tablets were 37% higher than ads delivered on desktops, with the average cost-per-click (CPC) on tablets 17% lower than on desktops. As a result, advertisers increased paid search spend on tablets to capitalize on this opportunity; and by the end of 2012, the share of spend on these devices had increased to 10%, eclipsing the share of spend on smartphones for the first time in history.
Different, But Equal
Tablets will certainly play a crucial role in the future of paid search, but whether the line between desktops and tablets will continue to converge and blur, or diverge and remain distinct, has yet to be seen. Even though these two devices share similarities in search behavior, they continue to perform differently. Perhaps this is a result of their unique user experiences—desktops with their large screens, mouses, and primarily fixed locations; versus tablets and their touchscreens, smaller search real-estate, and portability. Marin’s mobile report appears to support the notion that different user experiences result in varying ad performance. As a result, we expect Google’s enhanced campaigns to evolve as the market demand for additional functionality becomes evident.
The New Multi-Device World
With the migration to enhanced campaigns underway, search marketers must now prepare for a desktop-and-tablet-combined world. Gone are the days of separating campaigns to target these devices individually. Campaigns and landing pages must now be optimized with both the desktop and tablet user in mind. Two strategies that marketers are implementing today include: limiting the amount of Flash-based content on websites, as iPads don’t support Adobe Flash, and using finger-friendly buttons and links.
In an already highly competitive search landscape, enhanced campaigns will change the way advertisers engage with consumers. Sophisticated search marketers will need to continue investing in technology and reestablish best practices in order to successfully drive media and acquire revenue in the new multi-device world.
Download the comprehensive 15 page global mobile report here.
There’s no doubt about the increasing proliferation of mobile devices in the UK. In October 2012, Comscore reported that smartphones had a 62% penetration in the UK. YouGov also reported that there will be a staggering 10 million tablet users in the UK by August 2013, nearly one-sixth of the population. However, as gadget obsessed British consumers spend an increasing amount of time on their mobile devices, what impact does that have for advertisers? Well, Marin decided to take a look into this, and published our findings in our report, “Mobile Search around the Globe”.
The UK has the highest share of mobile clicks globally
In the UK, 24.4% of paid search clicks came from mobile devices, compared to 23.4% in the US, 22.5% in Singapore, 21% in Australia, 16.2% in Japan. The UK’s closest neighbours in the Eurozone saw 14.5% of paid search clicks coming from mobile. With the high penetration of mobile devices in the UK, consumers are increasingly conducting searches and clicking ads on mobile devices. But how are advertisers reacting?
While consumers lead the way, advertisers still lag
Despite consumers in the UK having the highest percentage of mobile clicks globally, UK advertisers are second behind their Singaporean counterparts in terms of budget allocation. Advertisers in Singapore allocate 20% of search budgets to mobile devices, while those in the UK allocate 19.3%. This still puts the UK ahead of the US with 18.4%, and the Eurozone with 11.8%. However, what is preventing UK advertisers from aligning their mobile search budgets with consumer behavior?
Advertisers struggle to track smartphone conversions
Whilst UK advertisers see impressive click-through rates on smartphones (5.87%) and tablets (3.93%) compared to desktop computers (2.29%), the Cost-per-click (CPC) suggest that advertisers aren’t investing as much in smartphones. CPC, which is a good indicator of how competitive the marketplace is, show that tablet searches are as competitive as desktop searches with average CPCs of £0.28 and £0.30, respectively. However, smartphone searches have fallen behind with an average CPC of £0.15.
The reason behind this is that advertisers believe conversion rates are lower on smartphones relative to computers and tablets. Despite efforts by advertisers to improve the mobile user experience, conversion rates remain slightly lower on tablets (2.6%) and smartphones (1.6%) compared to computers (4.1%).
Consumer “Showroom” to find the best deals
With smartphones performing worse in terms of conversion rate, advertisers are reluctant to increase their investment in these devices at the same rate as they are for tablets. However, there is another challenge that advertisers need to address—the growing trend in the UK, termed “Showrooming”, where consumers compare prices and research products on their smartphone while in a bricks and mortar store. This often results in consumers making purchases offline despite having researched those products on their smartphone. In 2013, we anticipate that many UK advertisers will look to address this challenge by utilizing voucher codes within smartphone search ads that consumers can redeem offline.
What should we expect in 2013?
The global adoption of mobile devices is dramatically changing the paid search landscape. This is especially true for tablets. Marin’s findings note that tablets will continue driving a larger share of paid search ad clicks in 2013. And with consumers increasing their use of tablets to research goods and services, and make purchases, Marin predicts that tablet conversion rates will surpass those of desktop computers by the end of 2013.
Marin Software is excited to announce the release of our 2013 mobile benchmark study, a compelling summary of mobile advertising data trends and best practices. The staggering adoption of mobile devices is dramatically changing paid search, especially the emergence of tablets. The report’s findings note that tablets will likely drive 20% of Google’s paid search ad clicks in the US by December 2013. Fueled by consumers’ increasing use of tablets to make purchases and research goods and services online, Marin predicts the conversion rate of search ads originating from tablets will eclipse those of desktops before year end.
In today’s tech-savvy world, consumers are increasingly shifting their media time away from traditional channels such as television, print, and radio, towards the emerging digital channels of search, social, video, and mobile. Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are seeing customers take to the web thanks to the convenience, selection, and price-transparency of ecommerce. Consequently, the battle for revenue is experiencing a seismic shift and marketers are increasingly allocating their investments towards these emerging digital channels.
The research firm eMarketer estimates that global B2C online sales grew 21 percent last year to $1.09 trillion, the first time sales have topped $1 trillion. The US ecommerce industry chipped in $365 billion and eMarketer expects that amount to grow to $409 billion in 2013. With the average sales per US consumer reaching $2,466 this year among those who purchase goods online, advertisers are seeking more efficient and effective ways to reach their audience.
Following suit, a new Strata survey found that nearly one-third of ad agencies expect to spend more on digital advertising than on traditional media within the next three years—indicating that digital media may eclipse traditional advertising in the near future.
“Focusing on revenue acquisition is an absolute necessity to thrive in today’s digital marketing landscape.” – Linda Harjono, Senior Manager of Search, Symantec
To win the battle for revenue, smart marketers are breaking away from their competition and overcoming the challenges of a highly complex and data-driven digital landscape with Revenue Acquisition Management (RAM)—an emerging category of technologies that enable advertisers to improve revenue outcomes and return on investments from digital advertising. RAM solutions allow marketers to manage digital advertising across multiple channels, publisher, geographies, languages, and devices; providing them with complete visibility and control over their programs and enabling them to optimize their digital advertising to meet desired revenue goals.
In October of 2012, Google successfully transitioned Google Product Search in the US to a commercial model built on Product Listing Ads (PLA). Though this enhanced shopping experience was faced with both criticism and praise when it was announced in May 2012, advertisers have seen PLA campaigns perform with a great deal of success. In fact, by the end of September 2012, over 100,000 retailers had inventory in Google’s new shopping model just in time for the holiday season.
One month ahead of the transition, the impression share of PLAs to standard text ads was 3.9% to 96% respectively. By the end of December, PLAs were receiving 60% more (6.1%) of the total impressions. This rapid growth in impressions share was not only due to more online retailers deploying PLA campaigns, but also the increase in product related searches during the holiday season.
However, the steady increase in click share from 2.1% in January 2012 to 6.6% (210% growth) in December indicates that shoppers are finding these PLAs, rather than standard text ads, to be more relevant to their search queries regardless of seasonality. The enhanced shopping experience and increase in relevancy is further supported by the gradual increase in click-through rate (CTR) from January 2012 through December. As seasonality became more of a factor in Q4, CTR for PLAs surpassed that of standard text ads in November and December.
This trend has far reaching implications as standard text ads cost more per click than PLAs during Q4 2012. For retailers, this means that PLAs are not only cheaper, but they perform far better than standard text ads during the busiest shopping season of the year. Of course, with the increase in PLA adoption by online marketers and increase in clicks by shoppers during the holiday season, the share of spend by PLA campaigns jumped from 0.36% in October to 2.5% (600% growth) in December. In fact, in Q4 alone many retailers allocated as much as 30% of their total spend on Google towards PLAs. This speaks volume to the incremental growth in spend on Google as a result of the Product Search transition. In 2013, online retailers will undoubtedly allocate additional budget towards PLAs, continuing to build on the momentum gained in 2012.
Marin Software just released our latest online advertising trends report for Q4 2012 in the UK. As with previous quarters, we built this report using the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, which includes over $4.0 billion invested annually in biddable media by advertisers and agencies through the Marin platform. As we are freshly in the New Year, I just wanted share three of the key trends we identified in the UK:
1) Advertisers Investing More on Tablets than Smartphones
According to Ipsos Mori, 50% of adults in the UK own a smartphone while just 13% own a tablet. Yet despite this, we found that advertisers invested more on search ads targeted towards tablets in the fourth quarter. We identified that tablets accounted for 11% of UK search spend, compared to 6% for smartphones. Our findings indicate search ads on tablets have a higher conversion rate than smartphones and a lower cost-per-click (CPC) relative to desktop ads, making them an attractive investment. Prior to the fourth quarter of this year, investment in tablet advertising had lagged that of smartphones. If you are in need of best practices for managing smartphone or tablet campaigns, be sure to check out Gagan Kanwar’s helpful video on this.
2) Clicks & Competition Increase Year Over Year (YoY) on Google
On a YoY basis for Google advertisers, we saw a 24% increase in click volume, a 14% increase in CPC, and a 10% decrease in click-through rate (CTR) during the fourth quarter. This suggests that despite more consumers turning to Google for their festive shopping, more advertisers are increasing their investment on Google PPC advertising as it continues to deliver results during the festive shopping period.
3) Advertisers & Consumers Increase YoY Yahoo & Bing Activity
For Yahoo and Bing advertisers, on a YoY basis, we saw a 25% jump in click volumes accompanied by a 22% increase in CPC and a 13% increase in click-through rate during the fourth quarter. This suggests that consumers increased their usage of Yahoo & Bing during the festive shopping period, whilst advertisers also increased their YoY investment in the combined platform throughout Q4. Interestingly, CTR also increased compared to Google where we saw a decrease in CTR. There could be a number of reasons for this. Despite advertisers increasing their investment in Yahoo & Bing, there might not be an increase in the actual number of advertisers competing for the increased number of clicks, rather the same advertisers boosting their investment. It could also be as a result of Marin’s advertisers improving their keyword targeting or ad creative on the combined Yahoo & Bing platform.
All in all, Q4 2012 saw a large uplift in nearly all key PPC stats, with more consumers taking to search engines to find Christmas gifts, and advertisers investing more money in attracting those consumers via search engines. It will be interesting to see how quickly tablet penetration increases this year. Expect the percentage of search budget allocated towards targeting tablet users to increase alongside the adoption of tablet devices by consumers.
You can download the full Q4 Online Advertising Report for the UK here.
Today Marin released its Global Online Advertising Trends Quarterly Report for the fourth quarter of 2012. As with previous quarters, we built this report using the Marin Global Online Advertising Index— for this release, we refreshed our client index data pool to ensure more representative analysis and findings.
The fourth quarter has always proven to be the busiest for marketers—retailers in particular—because of the holiday season. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, advertisers faced increased competition resulting in higher costs per click versus Q3 2012.
As predicted earlier this year, we saw mobile traffic peak at nearly 22% of all paid search clicks on Google in the US; we saw similar mobile traffic levels in the UK and Australia. Most noteworthy in the US was the share of spend on tablets eclipsing that of smartphones at 9% and 8%, respectively.
As Marin’s customer base continues to expand globally, we have committed to expanding our analysis into new verticals and geographies to help provide more granular insights for marketers. In this quarterly report we included insights on paid search performance in Australia as well as industry-specific metrics for the Finance, Retail and Travel verticals in the UK.
At a geographic level, here are some other key findings from the US, UK, Eurozone and Australia:
Read the full report with additional data and trends here.
One of the greatest assets to advertisers is being able to compare performance data to that of peers and competitors in the industry. So in the spirit of giving and sharing this holiday season, we at Marin have put together a report to provide advertisers with just that.
I’m happy to announce the release of the Marin Software PPC Benchmark Assessment. Advertisers can receive a personalized report showing trend and industry comparisons on click-through rate, attribution, bidding optimization, social marketing, and mobile marketing.
Simply take a short 15-question survey to receive a customized and actionable report. We have built out a back-end system that will compare your inputs to data compiled from other survey respondent data as well as data from the Marin Industry Index that we compile quarterly.
Once the survey is completed, advertisers will receive their customized report via email within minutes. The more data we collect, the better and more accurate the customized performance analysis becomes.
Visit www.ppcbenchmarkassessment.com to get your customized report! Happy sharing this holiday season!
Since the beginning of November, we’ve been analysing impressions and clicks across our UK retail client base. Three interesting trends have emerged:
1. Mega Monday booms
For the last few years, the UK retail industry’s PR teams have been trying to create buzz around a particular day to drive online sales, similar to Cyber Monday in the US. Coined just in the last few years, the phrase “Mega Monday” has historically been on the first Monday in December. Last year in the UK, the first Monday in December delivered only 3% more clicks than the 2nd Monday in December. In other words, in 2011 there was not a clear winner of the largest online shopping day in the UK.
However, in 2012 UK retailers succeeded in driving a buzz around Mega Monday. There is a very clearly defined spike in paid search clicks on the 3rd December, which is 13% more than the next biggest Monday on the 26th November. UK retailers have finally succeeded in creating a successful Mega Monday buzz online.
2. US Cyber Monday drives UK intrigue, but not clicks
Looking to scale their significant investments, US retailers promoted their Cyber Monday (26th Nov) offers in the UK. In 2012, they succeeded in creating a Cyber Monday buzz in the UK, as it became the largest Monday in terms of paid search impressions during the holiday shopping period. However, Mega Monday generated more clicks and conversions.
Despite US retailers creating a buzz in the UK for Cyber Monday, UK consumers were not yet ready to buy as Cyber Monday click volume was lower than Mega Monday’s. This may be attributed to the fact that the 26th November comes before most consumers’ November paycheques, and therefore they are less inclined to spend out of their virtual wallets.
3. The rise of “Super Sundays”?
Interestingly, Sundays in 2012 increased in prominence (25th Nov, 2nd Dec and 9th Dec) as they all made it into the top five days in terms of retail clicks. Furthermore, Sunday 9th December produced more clicks than Monday 10th December. This is a strong indication that consumers are starting to research purchases earlier in the shopping season. UK Retailers should note these trends when planning for the 2013 holiday shopping season.
Whether it is Cyber Monday, Super Sundays, or Mega Monday, there is no doubt increased competition for the attention of consumers as they look online earlier in the holiday shopping season to find the best deals.