How Search Marketers Spent Budgets Last Quarter

Money-Heap-BTracking online marketers' budgets and costs per click can help marketers understand how to allocate budgets. Paid-search spending rose 29% in Q2 2012, compared with the year-ago quarter -- down from 32% sequentially, according to Rimm-Kaufman Group (RKG). Marketers spent 32% more in the quarter compared with a year ago, but investments fell sequentially from 36%.

Among RKG's clients, click growth on Google grew 46% in Q2 2012, compared with the year-ago quarter. The cost per click (CPC) fell 10%, but rose 4% sequentially. Combined paid-search spending on Bing and Yahoo rose 16%, up from 10% sequential growth in Q1. Click growth came in weak at 3%, while CPCs rose 12%.

On the desktop, Google improved its share of organic search traffic, which rose from 76% in Q1 to 77% in Q2. Bing and Yahoo each held a share of 10%. In paid search, Google AdWords generated 84% of clicks.

June 2012 search data from comScore reveals that Google holds 66.8% market share for the month, up sequentially from 66.7%. Bing holds 15.6% for June, compared with 15.4% in May, and Yahoo fell 13% from 13.4%, respectively, according to Macquarie Analyst Ben Schachter.

Mobile accounted for more than 15% of organic search visits in Q2 2012, up from 13% sequentially. Mobile share of paid search lagged organic investments at 13%, as advertisers limited their spending on poorly converting smartphone traffic.

Overall, smartphone paid-search CPCs were 53% lower than desktop. Tablets accounted for 57% of mobile paid-search clicks, at a cost per click (CPC) of 9% lower than desktop.The iPad held on to 86% market share in Q2, with the Kindle Fire with 4% of table traffic in paid search as its single biggest competitor.

RKG attribution data shows only 25% of Q2 orders involved multiple channels, but also that moving from a last-touch model to a first-touch model can shift the credit from revenue for individual channels by nearly 40%. The company compared two primary metrics -- marketing touches and marketing channels. A touch is one click leading to a client's Web site, whereas a channel remains one source of clicks, such as paid search.

When analyzing marketing channels per order, RKG found five as the average number of touches per order. Consumers often touch the same channel multiple times, resulting in a lower average number of channels per order. Excluding brand search touches, analysts estimate that 75% of Q2 orders interacted with one marketing channel, 18% with two channels, and the remaining 7% with three or more.

Paid search was 30% more likely to come at the beginning of the touch path in Q2, when moving from a last-touch to a first-touch view. Affiliates lost nearly 40% of their last-touch revenue when moving to a first-touch model, according to the report.

RKG also saw display and email losing credit when analyzing the path with this method. The majority of the display data represented remains retargeting, and clicks on retargeted ads, meaning they are counted after a consumer has already visited a site.

The report suggests that email lost some credit because of customers revisiting promotional emails containing a discount immediately prior to placing their order. Organic search, CSEs and social media all gain credit in the first-touch view. 

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