Merkle|RKG’s data on the mobile-friendliness of Fortune 500 companies has been cited in Fortune‘s article “What Google’s Mobilegeddon is (and why you should care)”. The article discusses the mobile algorithm update Google  released on April 21, 2015, which changes how mobile organic search results are ranked. As illustrated by the recent Digital Marketing Report (Q1 2015), many companies’ websites are not optimized for the change:

According to marketing agency Merkle/RKG, as of early April, 46% of Fortune 500 companies and 29% of the top 500 retail sites had not received Google’s “mobile-friendly” designation.

To read the full article, click here.

In two pieces about Google’s April 2015 mobile algorithm change, the Wall Street Journal cited research from Merkle|RKG’s Digital Marketing Report (Q1 2015) and Director of Research Mark Ballard. The pieces explain that this algorithm change affects the way Google ranks websites in mobile organic search results by making the mobile “friendliness” of a webpage a direct ranking factor. As a result, many websites have scrambled to meet Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness.

In “Google Gives Boost to Mobile-Friendly Sites” (full article here):

“A lot of sites have been racing to beat the clock on this issue,” said Mark Ballard, director of research at Merkle RKG, a search-marketing firm.

In Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ Could Affect Major Companies” (full blog post here):

According to research by digital marketing agency Merkle | RKG, 46% of Fortune 500 companies and 25% of top retailers did not have websites with “mobile-friendly” designations from Google at the beginning of April.

Data and charts from Merkle|RKG’s Digital Marketing Report (Q1 2015) were featured in a Business Insider article about Google’s April 2015 update for mobile organic search. The article, “Google just made a huge update that could affect millions of businesses. Here’s what you need to know,” explains how important it is to ensure websites meet Google’s standards for mobile “friendliness.” However, many websites have a long way to go:

More than 45% of Fortune 500 companies and 29% of Internet Retailer 500 sites weren’t mobile friendly by early April, only weeks ahead of the update, according to research from digital marketing agency RKG Merkle. 

Mobile friendly status of Fortune 500 websites, according to Merkle|RKG's DMR (Q1 2015)

Merkle|RKG chart on Fortune 500 companies’ websites featured in Business Insider

Click here to read the full Business Insider article. Or, read Merkle|RKG’s blog post introducing the mobile algorithm update.

Forbes quoted Merkle | RKG’s Director of Research, Mark Ballard, in an article about why Google’s search loss share to Yahoo isn’t that signficant. Forbes contributor Robert Hof explains that the market share shift is largely a result of Yahoo replacing Google as the default search engine on Firefox browsers. He then questions the lasting effect this change will have, as users may opt to go back to Google. He writes:

Actually, it’s more a question of how many Firefox users will switch back. Because it’s apparent that some already have. According to numbers crunched by Mark Ballard, director of research at [Merkle | RKG], writing on the website Search Engine Land, Yahoo may already have peaked in market share.

And there’s even less of an issue when it comes to the bottom-line impact. “We have seen a dip in Firefox’s share of total paid search traffic since the beginning of December,” wrote Ballard. “We could very well see this reverse itself soon, but it could also be a reflection of a deadweight loss, of sorts, that advertisers are experiencing just from Google being better at serving ads than its competition.”

To read the full Forbes article, click here.

Data from RKG’s Q3 Digital Marketing Report was featured in a Search Engine Land article detailing tablet and smartphone spending trends within PPC and SEO.

“Skepticism about the value of mobile search does appear to be waning, however. In its third quarter report, search firm RKG noted that after holding down smartphone bids in 2013 in order to improve ROI for its predominantly U.S.-focused e-commerce advertisers, mobile CPCs rose sharply (27 percent year-over-year) and ad spend on smartphones jumped 117 percent.

While still accounting for just a fraction of overall conversions, smartphone-attributable conversions rose 17 percent after RKG factored in cross-device conversions. The firm also saw a surge in mobile search traffic from the Bing Yahoo network.”

To read the full Search Engine Land article, click here.

Charlottesville, VA (November 14, 2014) – RKG today announced it ranked #268 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, and clean technology companies in North America. 2014 marks the fourth consecutive year RKG has made the list. Award winners were selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2009 to 2013, during which time RKG grew by 362%.

RKG’s CEO, George Gallate, credits the company’s powerful proprietary technology, quality staff, and industry-leading thought-leadership with its sustained growth. He said, “We have consistently stayed at the forefront of the digital marketing industry, providing innovative and lasting solutions to help our clients create digital visibility and drive results.” More »

RKG’s co-founder and chief marketing scientist, George Michie, was featured in a newly released AdWords guide on how to best use bidding tactic to drive profits:

“If there’s real long-term value in your customers, then investing some of that value to grow can lead to a great deal of material profits. Bidding is your means of controlling how much of that to invest right now.”

To download the full guide, click here.

George has also published an article taking an in-depth look at the rationale behind different levels of marketing investment, titled Avoiding a Marketing Death Spiral, now available for instant download in RKG’s Dossier 5.2.

Last year, federal regulators required Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to clearly distinguish paid ads from organic search results. However, the search engines have done little to highlight differences between the two, and in some cases, they have made paid ads and organic listings look more similar than before.

“Mark Ballard, research director at search-marketing firm RKG, says that in 2011, Google made subtle changes to the fonts and headlines used in ads to make them look more like organic results.”

Read the full article on the Wall Street Journal.

October 14, 2014, Charlottesville, VA – Leading full-service digital marketing agency, RKG, a Merkle Company, released its Digital Marketing Report today, which covers Q3 2014 trends for paid search, SEO, product ads, social media, display advertising, comparison shopping engines and more. By analyzing data across its client base, which includes 50 of the Internet Retailer Top 500 companies, RKG’s report provides comprehensive and detailed insights into digital marketing trends.

The third quarter of 2014 saw continued growth in paid search spending, as Google saw a 27% increase and Bing saw a 24% increase in ad spend over this time last year. Ad spend on the Facebook Exchange (FBX) was also up 30% for the quarter. As advertisers head into the holiday season on a high note, mobile devices and product ads continue to drive search growth, while social media traffic share continues to vary by site.

Smartphone and Tablet Traffic Share Continues to Grow; Early iPhone 6 Data Shows Higher Conversion Rates

Mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, now see 38% share of both paid and organic search traffic. 42% of social media driven site visits came on mobile devices, a 13 point increase from this quarter last year. Smartphone ad spend grew 117% year-over-year as advertisers continue to invest in this ad format.

Despite this growth, smartphone revenue-per-click is still 66% lower than desktop. Cross-device conversion estimates from Google show that smartphones should receive 17% more conversions than the total captured by single-device tracking, though factoring in cross-device conversions only closes the RPC gap between smartphones and desktops slightly. Recent releases of iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 may have an impact on smartphone performance, as early data shows that iPhone 6 users are converting at a higher rate than users with earlier models. More »

RKG Scores Victory at US Search Awards – Recognized for Best Local Campaign in Search

October 9, 2014 – RKG, a Merkle Company, a prominent digital agency based in Charlottesville, VA, has once again been recognized in the industry for its innovative campaign work.

RKG was awarded the best local campaign by the US Search Awards for its work with Bealls, a leading Florida-based department store with over 500 retail locations. RKG helped Bealls leverage paid search to capitalize on the company’s strong brand recognition in order to capture additional market share both online and offline. RKG used its adaptive bidding technology to provide tailored experiences to local customers that reinforced Bealls’ messaging and succeeded in driving users to physical store locations as well as improving online performance.

RKG was shortlisted for a number of other US Search Award categories, including Best PPC Campaign, Best Mobile Campaign, and Best Travel Campaign. The US Search Awards also named RKG a finalist for Best Agency. More »