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RKG Digital Marketing Report: Q4 2013 Released

We are once again happy to announce the release of the latest RKG Digital Marketing Report featuring our analysis of fourth quarter and holiday shopping trends for 2013.  Our full report offers over 40 charts covering paid and organic search, mobile, PLAs, social media, comparison shopping engines, multichannel and more.

(Click Here to Download the RKG DMR for Q4 2013)

Q4 brought the largest U.S. online sales day in history on Cyber Monday as advertisers increased their investment in paid search for the full quarter by 23% year over year.

Google PLAs played a key role in holiday performance, accounting for 23% of all Google paid search traffic for retailers and 42% of non-brand Google traffic.  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 among participants.

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.

Some additional highlights from our fourth quarter findings include:

  • Google paid search spending grew 19% Y/Y in Q4. Traffic growth drove those gains with paid clicks up 15% and CPCs up just 3%.  Google Ad Rank changes in early Q4 may have suppressed Y/Y CPC growth.

  • Spending on Bing Ads, which includes Yahoo, grew 43% Y/Y in Q4. The platform continues to better monetize its traffic through more expansive ad matching logic.  Bing’s new Product Ads format showed potential in Q4, generating 7% of non-brand ad spend for participating retailers.

  • Retailers running both Google Product Listing Ads and text ads generated 23% of their overall traffic from the PLA format, but an impressive 42% of their non-brand traffic. The average retailer found PLA CPCs outpacing non-brand text CPCs for the first time in Q4.

 

  • Smartphones and tablets generated a combined 32% of paid search clicks and accounted for 25% of paid search ad spend. Smartphone CPCs remained 60% lower than desktop and tablet CPCs.

  • Not Provided query share has plateaued at an average of 84% of Google search visits. Query data that remains available to site owners is skewed towards Android devices and desktop Safari users.

 

  • Following the release of iOS 7, site owners are no longer seeing Google organic searches being misattributed as direct site visits due to iOS not passing referrer information. In Q2 2013, 16% of Google searches were incorrectly classified by web analytics packages due to this issue.

 

  • Facebook generated 57% of social media referrals in Q4 2013, up from 55% a year earlier. Pinterest generated 14% of social media referrals, up from 9%.

  • Among advertisers running both Amazon Product Ads and Google PLAs, RKG finds PLA CPCs running 22% higher than Amazon’s. For those same advertisers, Amazon Product Ads volume is 11% that of PLAs.

(Click Here to Download the RKG DMR for Q4 2013)

  • Mark Ballard
    Mark Ballard is Director of Research at RKG.
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