Mobile Search Increased 51 Percent as Smartphone and Tablet Market Matures Rapidly

SAN DIEGO, March 28, 2013 – Covario, Inc., the world’s leading independent search marketing agency, today issued its Global Paid Search Spend Analysis for the first quarter of 2013, reporting that spending on pay-per-click advertising (PPC) by its enterprise technology, consumer electronics, and retail clients rose 33 percent over the same period a year ago and 9 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2012.

Paid search advertising on mobile devices, particularly smartphones and tablets, continued to accelerate with PPC spending up 51 percent compared to last quarter and 124 percent year-over-year.

As for global keyword pricing, the report suggests that cost-per-click trends experienced over the last six quarters have reversed with CPC prices rising 7 percent.  The report’s author, Alex Funk, director of global paid media strategy at Covario, believes this reversal is being driven largely by mobile CPC inflation and the popularity of new advertising formats like Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

On a regional basis, the Americas, led by the U.S. and Canada, saw strong 29 percent year-on-year quarterly growth in paid search spending compared to the first quarter of last year.   Funk attributed this to more tablet advertising, higher CPCs on Google PLAs, and “seasonally-driven competitiveness” in markets like high tech and consumer electronics.

For the remainder of 2013, Funk recommends that advertisers budget an 18-20 percent increase in PPC spending with an emphasis on the emerging Latin America market, allocating 83 percent to the Google search engine and 15 percent to the Yahoo-Bing network.

Europe realized healthy, first quarter paid search spending increases of 20 percent from the previous quarter and 30 percent versus the first quarter of 2012, breaking a trend of several quarters of single-digit growth.

“While efficiency is still the trend in Europe with rising click-through rates,” Funk said, “CPC prices have jumped, increasing by 13 percent over Q4.”

For 2013, Euro zone marketers are advised to increase search spending by 10 percent, recognizing the region’s challenging macroeconomic conditions and slower recovery.  In Europe, Funk recommends allocating 95 percent of the paid search spend to Google.  However, in Eastern Europe, he says the Russia-based Yandex search engine should dominate budgets.

Asia/Pacific experienced large click volume increases in the first quarter of more than 37 percent year-on-year, along with a 24 percent increase in media spend. At the same time, CPC prices in the region continued to fall from the high point that was realized in the first quarter of 2012.

“Superfluous impressions have been reined in, resulting in much higher CTRs on ad creatives,” Funk said in the analysis.

Among the major search engines globally, Google continues to command more than 86 percent of the paid search market share.  Advertiser increases in first quarter spending with Google were up 33 percent from the same period a year ago.

The Yahoo-Bing Network, which holds 7.2 percent of the global search engine PPC market share, continued to grow at a solid pace with year-over-year quarterly spending up 23 percent, tempered by a more modest 7 percent gain from the fourth quarter.

Baidu, which dominates the Chinese market with share estimates as high as 80 percent, saw media spend on its platform grow by 152 percent for the year and 21 percent quarter-on-quarter. Funk reports that Baidu accounted for about 5 percent of global PPC spending and impressions, 10 percent of all impressions, and “an incredible one quarter of all clicks globally.”

As for mobile search advertising, it represented 14 percent of the total global paid search spend in the first quarter of 2013. The mobile device breakdown continued from last quarter at virtually an identical 36 percent for smartphones and 64 percent for tablets.

Due to the growth in tablet ownership, Funk said the mobile spending split has “nearly flip-flopped from a year ago when smartphones made up 56 percent of the mobile of ad spending.”

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

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About Covario and the Global Paid Search Spend Analysis

Covario is the world’s leading independent search marketing agency. This is the seventh year the firm has produced the Global Paid Search Spend Analysis, which now encompasses 25 quarters of data on the PPC spending patterns of its global technology, consumer electronics, and retail search marketing clients. These companies invest in paid search advertising with all of the major search engines in more than 45 countries.

Covario was selected by OMMA as the 2012 and 2011 Search Agency of the Year. The firm is also the parent company of Rio SEO, the leading software provider of enterprise search engine optimization, local SEO, social media technology, and content marketing automation tools. Headquartered in San Diego, Covario has more than 250 team members worldwide, who are also concentrated in Beijing, Chicago, London, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Singapore, Tokyo, and Toronto.  The agency’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.