Tablet, Laptop Search Conversions Beginning To Look Similar

Tablets are beginning to feel more like laptops, confirming an assumption made by Google execs when launching the Enhanced Campaigns paid-search platform -- that eventually, consumers would behave in a similar way on both devices and that conversions originating from each would look the same.

Data now shows that click-through rates (CTRs) originating from desktop and tablet devices have begun to converge. In fact, CTRs on tablets this year narrowed to 27% higher than desktop, compared with 51% in 2012 -- even as smartphone CTRs rose from 82% to 88%.

The Marin Software study released Tuesday analyzes click-through rates, share of spend and cost per click between devices in AdWords Enhanced Campaigns.

The data shows Google's assumptions are more reality than fantasy. Consumer adoption and combining desktop and tablet targeting increased the share of impressions and marketing spend for campaigns on tablets. Marin expects that year-on-year tablet increases in impression share and budgets will soon outpace increases on smartphones.

"The tablet device is slowly becoming a machine that resembles a desktop," said Kye Mou, senior product marketing manager at Marin. "It may not resemble a Mac Pro or tower desktop when it comes to performance, but tablets are slowly beginning to replace the reasons for using a laptop computer."

Tablets took a greater share of the search budget this year. Tablets took 11.75%; smartphones, 12.58%; and desktop, 75.67% this year, compared with 7.19%, 7.68%, and 85.12%, respectively.

The cost per click (CPC) for smartphones came in at 39% lower than desktop in 2012 during the nine weeks following the change, compared with an increase of 26% lower than desktop CPCs in 2013.  In 2013, CPCs for desktops came in at 1.00; smartphones, 0.74; and tablets, 0.87. In 2012, those numbers were 1.00, 0.61, and 0.87, respectively.

"Advertisers are beginning to invest more overall because there's a need for automation and scale as campaigns move across devices," said Mou.

The transition to enhanced campaigns increased the urgency for brands to commit to a paid-search mobile strategy, according to a report from PM Digital. Brands are placing a greater focus on protecting or owning their brand on mobile devices, since the number of paid ads given exposure on smartphones' search results is often limited to two paid ads at most.

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