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It’s no great secret that mobile search is becoming increasingly popular and that it will soon become more common than desktop search.

However new data from The Search Agency suggests that there’s some way to go before mobile devices challenge desktop’s dominance of paid search.

Its new Q1 2014 report shows that smartphones accounted for 16.9% of ad impressions, compared to 11.1% on tablet and 72% on desktop.

While proportionately these are large year-on-year increases of 35% on smartphone and 21% on tablet, it should be noted that desktop ads still account for 72% of search impressions.

The report’s authors predict that the current rate of growth will continue, meaning that by the end of 2014 mobile devices will account for more than 40% of paid search impressions.

For more information on this topic, download Econsultancy's Paid Search Marketing (PPC) Best Practice Guide. The guide will help beginners and experts to plan, create, launch and optimise paid search campaigns and maximise their return on investment.

It includes best practice around mobile paid search, integrating paid search with other channels (including offline), and takes into account Google's new Enhanced Campaigns function.

Paid search spend

Though smartphones experienced the lion’s share of impression growth (60% vs. 42% tablet vs. 9% desktop), in terms of marketing spend tablet devices saw the largest year-on-year increase. 

However the growth in tablet spend is a direct result of Google’s switch to enhanced campaigns, which forced advertisers to bid collectively on desktop and tablet, thereby substantially increasing the year-on-year spend for tablets.

The relative lag in smartphone paid search spend is likely down to the fact that many websites are still not correctly optimised, so marketers don’t want to waste money investing in paid search.

It’s also reflective of the fact that CPCs are generally lower on smartphone, so companies don’t have to allocate as much budget.

The report shows that CPCs on all devices increased during 2013 but have fallen sharply in Q1 2014. 

Desktop and tablet CPCs remain slightly higher year-on-year, but smartphone CPCs in Q1 2014 were $0.76 compared to $0.79 in the same period last year.

The Search Agency's data is based on its US clients' PPC spend. Go here to download the full report.

David Moth

Published 17 April, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1704 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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This is great but what has there also been a growth in the actual CTR that PPC ads get on mobile?

about 3 years ago


Doug Johnson

It's funny that I stumbled across this article. I was just talking to some marketing friends of mine the importance of mobile marketing.

The biggest problem I face is modifying your advertising to cater around the mobile audience. The squeeze pages that worked for the desktop are not created equal.

about 3 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

When I project the numbers in the top graph forward, I get the following...

Tablet... 2013:9.2%, 2014:11.1%, 2015:13.0%
Phone... 2013:12.5%, 2014:16.9%, 2015:21.3%
Desktop... 2013:78.2%, 2014:72.0%, 2015:68.8%

It's just a "bit of fun", but based on these figures I would be very surprised if, by the end of 2014, mobile devices do account for more than 40% of paid search impressions (i.e. 40%-45%). My guess would be 30%-35%.

about 3 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Typo: bottom right figure in my comment above should be 65.8%.

about 3 years ago


Trummer Richard

I totally agree that mobile devices are getting more and more important.
As a business owner i think it is vital to stay on top of these upcoming changes.
Super - important to make your website mobile friendly. I am working on this for my own site right now and hope to have it up and running soon and than provide this service for everybody who might be interessted.
So, my tip: do your homework and have your site live no matter, what device is used by your customer.

about 3 years ago


Nasir Shaikh

Mobile marketing is just going to be much better and in demand as increasing number of people are using Smart Phones.

@ Trummer. It's a very good move and you will be surprised with the results you will have through mobile friendly website. I am not sure if you are adopting responsive website approach?

It's definitely not wise to ignore marketing on mobile devices. There is a huge audience to capture and more sales!!!

about 3 years ago

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