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Mobile Ad Spend Up 5% on Google; Marin Gives Tips for Mobile PPC Success

Marin released research findings this week that showed not surprisingly mobile’s role in search advertising was up in click-through rates (CTR), share of ad impressions, and share of spend. 

In its research, Marin found that even though CTRs on ads from mobile devices were up only slightly year-over-year, they far surpassed that of desktop clicks by 88 percent in 2013 versus 82 percent in 2012.


“In looking at the data, it was hard to distill how much of this was directly due to enhanced campaigns,” said Greg Kunkel, global communications senior manager at Marin. “Advertisers are still figuring out how to operate in a post-EC world, and given the commotion, we found it difficult to identify what was the result of EC versus advertisers just learning a new way to do things. I suppose you could say that’s because of EC.” 

Marin also reported the gap between desktop and tablet behavior had begun to close between 2012 and 2013. In 2012, tablet CTR was 51 percent higher than on desktops. But in 2013, tablet CTRs were only 27 percent higher. 

Share of ad impressions and share of search spend were up from 2012 as well. While mobile’s share of ad impressions grew from approximately 7 percent last year to about 13 percent in 2013, so did the investment in the device, from approximately 8 percent to nearly 13 percent. 



And that means cost per click went up, too. In 2012, smartphone CPCs were 39 percent lower than desktop CPCs. Fast forward to 2013, and smartphone CPCs increased to just 26 percent lower than desktop CPCs.  


“The rise in smartphone versus desktop CPCs isn’t all that surprising given user adoption and the shift in search spend,” Marin said in its report.

For this study, Marin gleaned data from its global online advertising index over a nine-week period year-over-year and beginning one week following the migration deadline for enhanced campaigns.

Marin looked at key performance indicators across U.S. advertisers and agencies that manage more than $5 billion in annualized paid search spend through the Marin platform.

“Our data and findings skew towards the behavior of larger advertisers, and may not reflect performance trends for small- or medium-sized businesses,” Marin said in its report.

Advertisers: Tips on Mobile Optimization

Marin offered tips on how to stay competitive in an advertising world where mobile’s role is growing each year. 

“To optimize for the mobile user, we suggest advertisers ensure first and foremost they have mobile-optimized sites, and these sites are simple to navigate on a mobile device,” said Kunkel. “Seems basic enough, but there are still a lot businesses that don’t have mobile-optimized sites.” 

Kye Mou, product marketing senior manager at Marin added, “Generally, we’ve noticed with higher impressions and CTR come higher conversions; so it isn’t a stretch to assume more people are using their phones to convert, whether that be downloading a paper, filling out a form, getting directions, or purchasing something.”

Mou continued by saying that it’s “important for advertisers to ensure that the experience is optimized for mobile. For example, an ad for a pair of shoes I’m looking at brings me to a mobile-optimized page featuring the shoes and a way to buy them, rather than pointing me to a more generic page where I have to look around for the shoes I want, and then figure out how to buy them.” 

So how do advertisers succeed in an enhanced campaigns world? Mou said the key is “thinking about users as they search and makes purchase decisions across multiple devices. Marketers should familiarize themselves with all the new features and abilities within enhanced campaigns and apply them appropriately to best reach users as they move from device to device.” 

And when it comes to optimizing for mobile specifically, Kunkel and Mou offered the following tips:

  • Marketers are re-learning how to optimize for mobile. To do it at scale, we suggest automating mobile bid adjustments.
  • Try splitting out keywords that are significantly different from desktop keywords and create separate ad groups with these mobile-specific keywords. Marketers can then set group-level mobile bid adjustments for these ad groups that would essentially function as keyword-level mobile bid adjustments.
  • For brand keywords, which are typically few but carry a significant number of clicks, marketers may want to consider creating single-keyword ad groups – basically, an ad group consisting of one brand keyword. Doing so lets marketers maintain complete control over the keyword, and they can set mobile bid adjustments according. 
  • Use ad extensions (Google now gives advertisers a better rank if they do). In particular, take advantage of click-to-call and location extensions. Mobile users are often looking for a store location, and being able to click directly on a number or find the location can be a great service. Marketers should be sure to have a call tracking service in place that can be linked to their SEM management platform. That way, calls from click-to-call ads can be attributed to SEM. 

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