Analysis Notes Second Consecutive Quarter of Increases in Keyword Pricing with Tablet Cost-per-Clicks Surpassing Desktop CPCs for First Time

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 11, 2012 – Covario, Inc., a leading independent search marketing agency, today issued its third quarter Global Paid Search Spend Analysis, indicating that spending on pay-per-click advertising (PPC) by its enterprise technology, consumer electronics, and retail clients was up about 33 percent over the same period last year, and 6 percent above the second quarter of 2012.

Alex Funk, the global performance media strategist at Covario who produced this quarter’s analysis, noted shifts toward higher PPC spending growth in the Americas balanced by “subdued” advertising spend in much of Europe – which is still impacted by macroeconomic pressures, particularly outside of the U.K., Germany and the Nordic countries.

The Asia/Pacific region with its strong double-digit search spend growth is “where major opportunities for paid search exist,” Funk said, while cautioning about signs of a slowdown in China observed in the last few quarters.

Broken out regionally, the Americas, led by the U.S. and Canada, had “noteworthy” spending growth in the quarter – up 39 percent year-on-year and 7 percent over last quarter.  Funk said annualized search spend increases in the region continue to be expected in the 18-20 percent range.

In Europe, where the economic recovery has been slow to take hold, paid search growth rates for the third quarter increased 10 percent year-on-year and only by 1 percent over last quarter.  With macroeconomic pressures continuing in the region, Covario has revised its 2012 PPC spend growth forecast down to 5-10 percent.

In Asia/Pacific, year-on-year search spend growth came in at 45 percent, while quarter-on-quarter growth declined to 7 percent.  With spending in China slowing down, Funk said Covario is now revising its annualized forecast for the entire region down to a still very healthy 35-40 percent range.

The quarterly report, which also includes a cost-per-click (CPC) analysis of the major search engines, found that keyword pricing increased on a global basis for the second consecutive quarter.

“Across all of the search engines, the combination of a 4 percent increase in click-through rates and a 12 percent increase in CPCs suggest that keyword pricing in conjunction with higher performing ad formats – and not volume – has largely been responsible for the sequential growth,” Funk reported.

Globally, Google continued to command 87 percent of the paid search spend market share.  Advertiser increases in third quarter search spending with Google were up 34 percent from a year ago and 8 percent from the second quarter.

The Yahoo-Bing Network, with 10 percent of global search spend market share, grew at a solid pace with spending on its platform increasing 25 percent year-over-year and 5 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Baidu, which dominates the China paid search market with share estimates in that country as high as 80 percent, saw media spend on its platform grow by 55 percent year-over-year.  However, it suffered a 20 percent search spend decrease from the second quarter.  In the third quarter, Funk said Baidu accounted for about 5 percent of global PPC spending and “an incredible” 26 percent of the world’s clicks.

With respect to mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, global spending on paid search advertising increased by 17 percent in the third quarter versus the previous quarter, and by 90 percent year-over-year compared to the third quarter of 2011.

For the first time, Funk said that CPCs for tablets eked out a 1 percentage point edge in the third quarter over desktop CPCs, while keyword pricing for smartphones hovered around 63 percent of desktop CPCs. He attributed the rise in tablet CPCs to Google’s advertising default opt-in to desktops and tablets, plus a higher degree of user engagement, content consumption, and consumer purchase affinity on the tablet platform.

The full report is available as a free download from the Covario website at www.covario.com.

#     #     #

About the Covario Global Paid Search Spend Analysis

This is the sixth year that Covario has produced its Global Paid Search Spend Analysis, which encompasses 23 quarters of data on the PPC spending patterns of the firm’s global search marketing clients. These companies and brands invest in paid search advertising with all of the major search engines in more than 45 countries.

About Covario

Covario is a leading provider of SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) agency services and management solutions.  The firm was selected by OMMA as the 2011 Search Agency of the Year.  It was one of only nine agencies from more than 100 considered that made the 2011 Forrester Research Wave of U.S. Search Marketing Agencies.  Covario is also the developer of a unique platform for cross-media optimization and attribution analysis, known as the Covario CMO Dashboard™. Headquartered in San Diego, the firm has about 200 team members worldwide.  It also has offices in Chicago, London, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sao Paulo.  Covario’s growing customer base includes world leaders in technology, consumer electronics, retail, ecommerce, financial services, media, entertainment, publishing, and consumer packaged goods.  More information is available at http://www.covario.com.