April 15, 2014, Charlottesville, VA – RKG, a leading full-service digital marketing agency, released its Digital Marketing Report today, covering the first quarter of 2014. By analyzing data across its client base, which includes over 40 of the IR Top 500 Retailers, RKG’s report provides insight into trends for search, SEO, product listing ads, display advertising, social media, comparison shopping engines, and more.
The first quarter of 2014 saw continued growth across channels, as total paid search spend increased 17% from last year and organic search share stayed relatively constant. Mobile devices played a notable role in growth trends, while Product Listing Ads (PLAs) continue to drive paid search growth.
Mobiles Devices Now Account for One-Third of Search Traffic
While desktop visits for organic search are declining, mobile clicks in Q1 grew by 29% over this time last year. Mobile accounts for 33% of organic traffic on Google and 36% on Yahoo. And while mobile clicks contributed to just 16% of Bing organic traffic, this figure doubled from Q1 of 2013.
Paid search data shows similar trends. Smartphones and tablets each account for 18% of paid clicks, together contributing over a third of all search traffic. Comparing this quarter’s data to Q1 of last year, we see that smartphone clicks increased by 64%, while tablet clicks increased by 56%. Meanwhile, desktop traffic declined by 3% compared to this time last year.
Product Ads Now 50% of Non-Brand Google Search; Growing on Bing
Image-based product ads, including Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Bing’s Product Ads, are greatly outpacing text ad growth in terms of both traffic and ad spend. While text ad spending rose by just 6% year-over-year on a 4% increase in clicks, product ads saw a 69% increase in ad spend and a 51% increase in click traffic from Q1 of 2013.
PLAs on Google recorded a 14% stronger ROI than text ads in Q1. While CPCs averaged 8% higher than text ads, conversion rates were 50% higher for the RKG client base, making PLAs attractive to both Google and advertisers. As a result, Google gave PLAs greater prominence in search rankings this quarter, resulting in further traffic gains. PLAs now account for 29% of all paid clicks on Google, and 50% of non-brand clicks.
Image-based product ads also made strides on Bing, whose product ad format came out of beta at the beginning of the quarter. Bing product ads accounted for 12% of non-brand revenue in Q1, compared to just 8% in Q4 of 2013. Even more promising, revenue per click (RPC) for Bing product ads is now 79% higher than comparable text ads, while in Q4 beta participants saw a RPC that was 22% lower than non-brand text ad levels.