New RKG Q4 Digital Marketing Report Reveals PLA Impact, Holiday Performance and Growth Trends
January 15, 2014, Charlottesville, VA – Leading search and digital marketing agency, RKG, today released its Digital Marketing Report for the fourth quarter of 2013 – showing digital trends for paid search, SEO, social media, product listing ads (PLAs), display advertising, comparison shopping engine management, mobile and a special section on holiday performance. Across its client base, which includes over 40 of the IR Top 500 retailers, RKG found that search spending growth on Google increased slightly to 19% year-over-year. This growth was driven primarily by traffic increases as average cost-per-click (CPC) was up just 3% year over year in Q4.
Google PLAs played a key role in holiday performance, accounting for 23% of all Google traffic and 42% of competitive Google traffic, which excludes clicks on keywords that include a site's own brand name. By comparison, the newly minted Bing Product Ads format, which launched in Q3 as a closed beta, accounted for 7% of Bing competitive ad spend. Based on PLA success on Google, that figure is likely to rise quickly.
Compared to another similar ad format in Amazon Product Ads, Google PLAs sales volume was nine times larger among advertisers running on both platforms.
On the whole, PLA spend increased 72% year-over-year as Q4 CPC for the format surpassed those of competitive text ads for the first time, coming in 13% higher. Competition in the PLA space will likely continue to drive up CPCs as return on investment for PLAs outpaced comparable Google text ads by 18%.
Continued Growth of Mobile
The volume of smartphone and tablet searches continued to grow through the holidays, and traffic on these devices accounted for over 25% of paid search spend in Q4. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day were the largest mobile days by share of traffic in Q4 at 43% and 45% respectively, as those traveling during these holidays were probably more likely to pack only mobile devices. Eagerness for Black Friday deals may have also played a significant role on Thanksgiving, while searches by those receiving new mobile devices for Christmas may have contributed to the increase in mobile share on that day.
While Q4 smartphone click traffic more than doubled year-over-year, CPC was down 8% – continuing the trend from Q3 due to the transition to the Enhanced Campaign model. Enhanced Campaigns' mobile modifiers gave advertisers greater control to hit more demanding efficiency goals on mobile devices, which have historically returned much lower revenue-per-click than desktop and tablet computers.
Mobile now accounts for a greater share of PLA traffic than Google text ad traffic, indicating that advertisers and consumers are already largely taking advantage of the product ad format on mobile devices.
The full RKG Digital Marketing Report offers over 40 charts with additional insights and analysis on paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, comparison shopping engines, attribution and more.