Paid Search

POV: Q3 Paid Search Trends Report

In Q3 2016, for the first time in iProspect client history, mobile was the leading source of paid click share, accounting for a whopping 53% of all search traffic. In that same timeframe, we continued to see decreases in traffic share for both desktops and tablets, which accounted for only 36% and 11% of overall search traffic respectively.

The mobile device continues to dominate search, delivering significant YoY growth in Q3 impressions and click volume, up 126% and 68% respectively. We’re seeing ad traffic volume match actual searches— a direct indication that iProspect’s clients have aligned mobile paid search strategy with consumer behavior.

This is particularly significant following the October 13, 2016 announcement from Google's Gary Illyes regarding plans to divide its index, giving mobile users better and brighter content. Today, Google has a single index of documents for search, but the mobile search index will become the primary index.

All that said this is no time to rest and celebrate our accurate predictions. Holiday is around the corner. In fact, for many of our clients, it’s already here. As we continue to see the holiday season begin earlier and earlier each year, it’s important that paid search foundations are solid and testing is underway in advance of the season.

Following are six insights from Q3 that we recommend applying in your Q4 strategy.

1. Make sure you take full advantage of early testing with ETAs. Google’s deadline for full migration to the new ad format was pushed to January in order to give brands more time to be strategic with their updates. ETAs have shown strong performance for early adopters, but the undertaking to update all ad units can be immense. Use the longer text ads to your benefit, honing in on what sets you apart from your competitors. Also, use ETAs in your audience targeting campaigns by leveraging the longer text to deliver more personalized messaging.

2. Advances in audience targeting and segmentation are some of the most important paid search developments in recent years. They provide advertisers with numerous opportunities to implement refined tactics that may deliver rewards as early as Q4 of this year. Build upon your audience-centric strategies this holiday with heavier-than-normal RLSA and Customer Match-focused campaigns. The reason is simple: price-conscious consumers are apt to jump around in their search for the best offer, so you may need to do some additional coaxing to get them back to your site and the final sale. Also, don’t be shy about rewarding your best customers this holiday season, a tactic that audience campaigns are uniquely positioned to deliver.

3. We predict PLAs will continue to grow and prosper during the holiday season, so make sure your product feeds are well optimized for eager buyers and your merchant promotions are delivered with a frequency that keeps you top-of-mind with those price-conscious buyers. Because 60% of PLA traffic is now mobile, also make sure to focus on ensuring strong visibility by leveraging mobile multipliers.

4. So, what about mobile? Our prediction is that we’ll see more of the same: mobile’s triple-digit growth hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down. Greater adoption across advertisers has meant that the small-screen format has become the new battle zone for shelf space and market share. The trends are even more pronounced when you look globally at mobile-first markets. Anticipate further increases in Q4 CPC prices as advertisers vie for top spots.

5. Remember, not all consumers buy online. Some still brave the in-store rush during the holidays. Be ready with new local offerings including Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) and Promoted Pins. Smart marketers will look to hedge their bets, choosing to be both locally relevant while simultaneously driving traffic to their ecommerce or partner-seller pages to attract and convert customers this holiday season.

6. Finally, as we move into 2017, look for voice search to become more of a factor in search marketing. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are all promoting voice-search solutions as more voice-enabled products make their way into consumers’ homes. Today, at least one in four mobile searches is made via voice input, and as users become more comfortable with this query input, the percentage will grow.

Check out our full Q3 Paid Search Report here