Global search ad spend grew 10.4% in 2017 as marketers plowed more money into mobile campaigns, per a report by search analytics firm Adthena shared with Mobile Marketer. Monetization of text and Google Shopping ads in mobile search results was a huge driver for search ad spending globally.
Mobile search results on Google, which controls 93% of the mobile search market, feature four top-of-page text ads that mobile users with smaller smartphone screens must scroll through before they see organic listings. Search results are mostly indiscernible from text ads that show a green “Ad” box and a gray info button, and the comparable lack of ad-blocking software on mobile browsers helped to boost clickthrough rates (CTRs) in Q4 2017 from a year earlier, per Adthena.
Google’s expanded text ads, which the company introduced in July 2016, that give mobile marketers more room to show a compelling offer or hook also helped to drive mobile search ad growth. Adthena analyzed data from more than 140 million paid search ads and 5.6 million search terms for the U.S., U.K. and Australia from January 2017 to May 2018.
Rising CTRs on mobile paid search ads indicate that advertisers are continuing to get value from the channel, per Adthena. Mobile exceeded desktop in search ad spend for the first time, driving 54% of all ad revenues in search, per IAB data cited by Adthena.
Adthena’s research shows several interesting trends in mobile search, particularly among industry groups. In the U.S., the automotive and finance industries were big spenders on mobile search ads. The automotive category’s mobile ad spend of 42% and the finance industry’s 43% exceeded the 38% average for all industries. That spending translated into a 47% share of clicks for automotive and 49% for financial, higher than the broader average of about 45%.
In the U.S., the travel and tourism industry’s ad spend on mobile (35%) generated 49% of clicks in the category, which may mean there is an opportunity for these advertisers to spend more on mobile search, per Adthena. The consumer electronics industry saw 47% of device clicks on mobile generated from just 36% of ad spend, also showing the effectiveness of mobile search advertising. Travel and tourism also had the best click-through-rates in U.S. search, with average CTRs exceeding the industry average by more than 2% for all search ad categories (pure brand desktop, pure brand mobile, generics mobile and generics desktop). Pure brand ads on mobile performed exceptionally well, with average CTRs that exceeded the industry average by more than 4%.