Commentary

Mobile Contributes Almost Half of Retail Search Activity

Smartphones and tablets contributed nearly half (42%) of all organic search activity that ended in a visit to a retail site in the fourth quarter, according to new figures from Merkle-RKG. The total volume of mobile organic search visits to retail sites rose 54% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.

Turning to paid search activity, smartphones and tablets accounted for 39% of paid clicks to retail sites in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from 33% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Over this period the volume of paid clicks from smartphones increased 48%, while the volume of paid clicks from tablets increased 28%. The volume of paid search traffic from desktop edged up just 3%, but still accounted for the majority of paid search. Total spending on mobile paid search soared 78%, as tablets increased 34%, and desktop rose 14%.

Google, the leading paid search provider, saw more than 40% of total paid search clicks to retail sites coming from smartphones and tablets in the fourth quarter. Bing Ads trailed slightly, with 36% of paid search visits to retail coming from mobile devices.

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Mobile’s contribution to paid search traffic rose during the holidays, including 45% over the Thanksgiving weekend and 51% over Christmas. Furthermore these increases likely aren’t just blips, but reflect shifting online behaviors, according to RKG, which noted that “past results suggest that they will preserve a large portion of those gains into 2015.”

Although social media remained a relatively small source of visits to retail sites, accounting for just 2.4% of all traffic in the fourth quarter, mobile loomed large here as well (at least in proportional terms), accounting for 52% of all social media visits to online retailers.

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