Q3 2013 US Paid Search Spend Continues Upward Trend: RKG, IgnitionOne & Kenshoo

Several recent Q3 digital marketing reports offer a healthy roundup of US paid search spending and a positive outlook for the remainder of 2013. Insights from RKG, Ignition One and Kenshoo show growth in various degrees, though all report that marketers continue to increase their investments in paid search.

RKG: Smartphones Generated Less Than 14% of Search Ad Clicks

RKG reports an overall increase in paid search spend of 21 percent YoY, slightly down from the Q2 spike in growth this year. Click volume improved 13 percent across all engines and across their client base, RKG saw nearly twice the increase in average cost-per-click (CPC).

Bing Ads continues to outpace Google, according to RKG, with 39 percent YoY growth. This is despite Google’s 18 percent YoY increase in search spend. Non-branded click volume from Bing Ads reached 145 percent in Q3, up 45 percent from the same period last year. By contrast, CPC rose a mere three percent.


Further, RKG advertisers gained nine percent in ROI on Bing Ads, even as the platform has been able to deliver big traffic increases with better ad matching technology, the report says. But Google’s non-brand revenue-per-click (RPC) improved 13 percent compared to Bing, thanks to Enhanced Campaigns.


According to RKG’s report, Google’s average smartphone CPC fell sharply relative to desktop. For Q3, smartphones generated less than 14 percent of search ad clicks, while tablets saw a 16 percent increase.


Although smartphone ROI improved in Q3, it performed poorly compared to desktops and tablets. Phones’ shares of search ad spend decreased from around nine percent in Q2 to six percent or so in Q3 this year. RKG concluded this was because advertisers reduced smartphone bids in order to bring mobile ROI more in line with desktop, which was consistent with the enhanced campaigns transition.


For further insights on performance by mobile devices and desktops, as well as organic and social search, download the report from RKG.

IgnitionOne: Paid Search Spend Up 13 Percent Over 2012

IgnitionOne also found that US paid search spending in the third quarter of 2013 kept its upswing from last quarter.

In fact, their Q3 Digital Marketing Report reveals that paid search spending increased by 13 percent YoY, with a six percent rise in both CPC and clicks.

With 22.6 percent market share in Q3, Bing recovered from Q2 losses, when it represented 20.8 percent of share. Nevertheless, Google eclipses all others, taking 77.4 percent of ad spend.


Breaking down search spend by device class, search advertising spending on smartphones and tablets kept growing faster than the total search market, the report says. Smartphones achieved 117 percent growth in clicks, more than double the percentage to tablets. Meanwhile, smartphones gained 91 percent increase in impressions YoY, compared to 70 percent by tablets.


Looking forward, the report projects that a strong Q4 spend will follow.

IgnitionOne analyzed more than 100 billion impressions and more than three billion clicks on Google, Yahoo!/Bing and other search networks. To see all of their findings, download this report from their website.

Kenshoo: 10 Percent YoY Search Spend Gains Driven by Rising CTR & CPC


At the same time, Kenshoo’s infographic indicates that the rise in search spend was driven largely by an increase in click-through rates and clicks year-over-year. They analyzed over 8 billion ad clicks in the creation of their report.

Click volume is down 6 percent from last quarter, with impressions fallen 10 percent in the same time.

“Going into Q3, there was a lot of discussion by paid search marketers on how big the disruption from enhanced campaigns would be. If you compare the KPIs from Q2 and Q3 2013 to previous years, you’ll see that they follow very similar trends to the same time period in recent years,” says Josh Dreller, director of marketing research at Kenshoo. “It would seem that paid search advertisers were paying close attention as they migrated their campaigns to ensure that their own KPIs didn’t fluctuate wildly – and if they did initially, they were able to stabilize them and get control of their accounts fairly quickly.”

Digging deeper into Kenshoo’s findings, we questioned how to deal with click fraud and adapt to the enhanced campaigns transition.

“Marketers should stay on top of every new curveball–whether large such as enhanced campaigns or even minor deviations–in order to minimize the negative impact on their performance,” Dreller tells ClickZ. “With more and more ad dollars flowing to the digital ecosystem, it’s important that marketers need to accept that the only constant is change and to get comfortable with the fact it will always be the case.”

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