Paid search spend increased by 14 per cent year-on-year, while mobile phones accounted for almost half of all clicks during the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the latest Digital Marketing Report published by Merkle. Google’s recent changes and updates again helped to drive growth across search.
Google saw its own paid search spend surge by 19 per cent year-on-year during Q4, which was slightly less than the 20 per cent growth recorded between June and September last year, but spending on non-brand did rise to 21 per cent during the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, non-brand cost-per-click growth was negative nine per cent, which continued a trend first seen back in the fourth quarter of 2015.
In terms of clicks and ad spend, Google’s biggest drivers were separating desktop and tablet bids and the return of cross-device bidding. Merkle noted: “As advertisers shifted spend from tablets to the better converting desktop segment over Q3 and Q4, they were ultimately able to spend more overall, while achieving the same return on investment.”
Other changes that had a positive impact included the introduction of new ad spots at the top of mobile SERPs, which saw five per cent of all mobile text ad clicks during the most recent quarter. Product Listing Ads also performed well for Google, as spending soared by 62 per cent on smartphones and helped drive impressions significantly. New ad slots in Local Finder and Local Pack were also key for Google during Q4.
A separate report by Standard Media Index (SMI) found that digital ad spend growth actually dipped in 2016 overall. Google and Facebook accounted for three-quarters of new digital ad investment, but Snapchat was also one of the big winners last year. Its ad spend soared by 356 per cent, which saw it surpass Pinterest. The food, TV networks, consumer electronics and restaurant sectors were particularly fruitful for Snapchat last year.
The report also revealed that some brands and publishers are balancing their digital campaigns with more traditional strategies. SMI CEO James Fennessy added: “The big story in Q4 was the move back to Television for some big categories of advertisers who had pushed the experimentation with digital a little too far. Retailers flooded back into TV over the holidays which helped make up for some softness in the early part of the football season.”
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