Performics’ April Mobile Search Benchmarks: Click & Impression Share Reach New Heights

Posted by Ryan Hornacek, Analyst, Strategy & Analytics

For Performics’ aggregate client base, we saw new heights for mobile paid search in April.  Despite a slight decrease in mobile device search spend (as a percentage of overall search spend), mobile click and impression share achieved record levels.  Furthermore, mobile CPCs dropped and mobile CTRs continued to trend above desktop.  See below for our April benchmarks, broken out by mobile (smartphones) and tablets.

Spend

For the first time since January, the percent of paid search dollars that advertisers spent on mobile devices decreased.  In April, our aggregate client base spent 15.8% of budget on mobile devices vs. 16.5% in March.  Spend on mobile (smartphones) vs. tablets was about 50/50.
Spend
 
*Google only; Content & Search partners excluded

Impressions

Despite spending slightly less on mobile search in April, overall efficiencies remained as our clients saw mobile device impression and click share increase.  Paid search mobile device impression share (i.e. mobile impressions as a percent of overall desktop + mobile impressions) rose to 17.8%.  This is the highest level ever, even outpacing holiday 2011.  After a slight post-holiday drop, impression share continued its upward momentum in 2012. Tablets make up just over a third (36.3%) of mobile impressions.

Impressions
 
*Google only; Content & Search partners excluded

Clicks

April mobile device click share was also the highest on record—at 24.9%—for our clients.  Almost a full quarter of paid search clicks are now coming from smartphones and tablets.  Mobile device click share has risen every month in 2012 (and 250% year-over-year).  Actual mobile device click volume is up over 3X from April 2011.  Tablet click share decreased month over month, but tablet clicks still make up 38.7% of mobile clicks.


As new mobile devices launch over the summer, we forecast that click share will continue to reach new heights, especially during heavy shopping periods like back-to-school.  

Clicks

*Google only; Content & Search partners excluded

Cost-per-Click (CPC)

The mobile-to-desktop CPC pattern continued in April, with the gap between desktop and mobile device CPCs widening further.  Mobile (smartphone) CPCs are about 50% of desktop; tablet CPCs are about 70% of desktop.  This is partly due to lower competition, but also better click-through rates, quality scores, and efficiencies on smartphones and tablets compared to desktops.  At the end of 2011, tablet CPCs looked like they would soon catch desktop CPCs; but they’ve stabilized, particularly in April.  This is due to more advertisers targeting and tailoring their mobile campaigns specifically to tablets, which improves relevancy, thus boosting quality scores.

CPCs

*Google only; Content & Search partners excluded

Click-Through Rates (CTRs)

Lastly, mobile device CTRs rose again in April, reaching 7.5%.  Tablets hit 8%, the highest of any device.  Desktop CTRs, meanwhile, have continued to decline.  The gap in CTRs between desktop and smartphones/tablets has continued to widen as mobile advertisers are able to serve more relevant advertisements to location-based searchers.  Additionally, new paid sitelinks and ad-extensions—particularly location-based enhancements like click-to-call and location extensions—have given advertisers more opportunities to dominate the search engine results page (SERP) on smartphones.

CTRs
*Google only; Content & Search partners excluded

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