PLAs Drive Clicks, Impressions - But Not On Mobile

Marketers spent 12% more on search ads in Q4 2013 compared with the prior year -- but the big news for the quarter is the growth of product listing ads, which combine images with text. PLA impressions soared by 380%, and clicks rose 312%. Marketers spent 618% more on PLAs compared with Q4 2012, per a study quarterly released Wednesday from IgnitionOne. The study suggests that during Q4 2013, PLAs for its clients accounted for 10% of impressions, 13% of the clicks and 16% of the total spend.

PLA growth outpaced traditional paid-search text ads. During Thanksgiving week about 8% of all search impressions and 13% of the clicks came from PLA campaigns. That week PLA campaigns took about 15% of marketing search budget. The ads experienced a click-through rate ((CTR) of 74% higher than paid-search campaigns. On Cyber Monday, PLAs performed better with a 96% higher CTR, compared with paid search campaigns while paying 14% less for clicks.



Logic would assume the PLA image ads would transfer well from desktop to smartphones, but they did not. During the holiday weekend, IgnitionOne saw poorer performance for PLAs on smartphone devices. Impressions made up 21% of the total mobile impressions and 11% of the total mobile clicks, but experienced a 38% lower CTR, compared with paid search ads.

Among IgnitionOne clients, marketers also spent 82% more for search ads running on tablets in Q4; and smartphones, 253%. The company attributes the leveling off to Enhanced Campaigns that limit targeting for the device type, which many advertisers had been investing in since Q4 2012.

Paid-search campaigns running on tablets saw a moderate YoY growth. Impressions rose 27%; clicks, 49%; and CTR, 17%. Smartphones experienced a 251% increase, with click reaching 306%; and CTR, 15%.

The IgnitionOne Report also notes that during the quarter the Yahoo Bing Network held its share of clicks in Q4, with 22.7% of spend vs. Google's 77.3%, just a hair up from last quarter’s 22.6%.

IgnitionOne manages more than $30 billion in revenue annually for brands like General Motors, DirecTV, Ann Taylor, La Quinta and Fiat, as well as advertising agencies such as 360i, GroupM and iProspect. The ads reach about 300 million consumers monthly in 55 countries, according to the company.

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