Advertisers investing in search ads through Marin Software and IgnitionOne spent more on tablets compared with smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2012, despite comScore's estimate that 120 million U.S. consumers own smartphones, up from 30 million in the past year.
Combined, smartphones and tablets accounted for a 22% share of clicks and 17% share of spend, according to Marin Software's quarterly study, Global Online Advertising Trends, released Thursday.
It turns out that tablet search ads have a higher conversion rate compared with smartphones, and a lower cost-per click in comparison to desktop ads, making them an attractive investment. Prior to the fourth quarter of this year, investment in tablet advertising had lagged that of smartphones. Now companies see a boom for search ads on tablets.
For Marin clients, click-through rates (CTRs) on tablets in the U.S. were 2.85% during Q4 2012, with a cost per click (CPC) of about $0.67. CTR on smartphones were 4.34%, with a CPC of $0.49. U.K. search marketers also spent more on tablet devices as a percentage of their total budget.
Mobile devices accounted for a 23% share of clicks and a 17% share of spend for the fourth quarter in the United Kingdom. Click-through rates (CTRs) on tablets in the U.K. were 3.58% during Q4 2012, with a cost per click (CPC) of about 0.29 pounds. CTR on smartphones were 5.55%, with a CPC of 0.15 pounds.
For IgnitionOne clients, U.S. tablet search ad impressions rose 212% in 2012, and 20% for smartphones, compared with the prior year. Spend for tablets also doubled -- 163% -- compared with the 87% on smartphones. Mobile devices now account for 18% of total search budgets.
Ironically, just 22% own a tablet in the U.S., compared with more than 45% of adults owning smartphones, according to Pew Research. Despite smartphones outnumbering tablet users, Marin found that advertisers invested more to reach consumers on the scaled-down PC devices rather than phones.
comScore data show that consumers completed about 13% of all e-commerce transactions during the holiday shopping season on mobile or portable devices, with tablets accounting for about 70%. Overall, M-commerce is now growing at a rate of about 30% annually.
This year, U.S. consumers will spend $24 billion shopping on their tablets -- nearly double by 2015, according to eMarketer.
Overall, click volume across Google sites rose 24%. It drove up cost-per-clicks (CPCs) by 14%, and drove down click-through rates (CTRs) by 10% during the fourth quarter, compared with the year-ago quarter.
On Yahoo and Bing, Marin advertisers experienced a 25% jump in click volumes accompanied by a 22% increase in CPC and a 13% increase in click-through rate during the fourth quarter.