Strong Quarter Seen For Google: Analysts Cite Search, Commerce, Mobile, Display
Analysts predict another up quarter for Google, with 32% revenue growth expected on the strength of its core search business when the company releases earnings late Thursday. Some also point to gains in ecommerce, mobile, international markets and traction in its display ad business as fiscal indicators.
Macquarie Capital Analyst Ben Schachter expects to see 13% sequential growth when Google reports Q4 2011 earnings, mostly coming from "solid" search trends, strength in mobile, better-than-expected growth in emerging markets, and demand for display products.
Paid Media Director Hannah Kimuyu of London-based digital marketing firm Greenlight believes Google will surpass Yahoo in display ad market share by the end of this year. Social link building techniques learned from search engine marketing will facilitate that rise.
Google grew both spend share and click share in 2011, receiving 81.1% of search ad spend in the fourth quarter, up from 80%, according to Wedbush Securities, citing Efficient Frontier numbers. The Mountain View, Calif., company's click share grew 2.5% to 83.5% in Q4, up from 81% in the year-ago quarter.
Digital marketing company Kenshoo released holiday online shopping numbers, aggregating 28 billion search advertising impressions, 350 million clicks, and 8 million online sales transactions that could also provide insight into Google's earnings results. Overall, revenue rose 36%; and total transactions, 56%.
Worldwide, consumers use the Internet more often to make purchases but spend less per transaction, according to Kenshoo CMO Aaron Goldman. Average order value fell 13%, but revenue rose 36%; and transactions, 56%. People bought more, but less at a time at any one online store.
Goldman said Google benefits from smaller transactions. Where there's a series of 10 transactions to buy from multiple retailers, it means more searches. It might mean 30 clicks on ads vs. one click on an ad, which turns into more revenue for Google.
In the U.S., more than 14% of all clicks occurred on a mobile device. Tablets represented more than 8% of all clicks, producing $149.84 per conversion and a 2.72% conversion rate. Mobile phones converted online far less, about .87%, but drove more than 6% of total clicks. Among consumers who did use smartphones to make purchases, Apple iOS users represented a more desirable audience; they spent 13% more purchases and delivered a conversion rate that was nearly 20% better than Android users.
Piper Jaffray Analyst Gene Munster points to holiday ecommerce numbers from Chase Paymentech, comScore, ChannelAdvisor and others.
Chase Paymentech notes during the holidays that ecommerce rose to 26%, compared with the prior year; comScore reported 15% holiday ecommerce growth year on year, compared with 12% last year; and ChannelAdvisor suggests November and December growth of 26% and 21%, respectively, which compares to 21% and 9% in November and December 2010.
Munster makes note that Google's advertising business, which comes in at 97% of revenue, historically correlates well with ecommerce sales trends. That gives Piper Jaffray analysts confidence in Google's ability to grow more than 32% year on year in Q4 2011 from 29% in the prior year.
Aside from an uptick in ecommerce, international market share could also lead to positive revenue results for Google in the quarter. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believe market share for the Russian search engine Yandex remains a core topic for investors following Google. The company has become more aggressive with search engine placement in Chrome.
Since that time, Yandex's search market share fell from about 65% to about 60% today, while Google grew from 22% to 26%, the investment firm said, citing Liveinternet.ru. Chrome's browser market share rose from about 13% to 18.5%.