Report: Tablets Yield 15% Lower RPC Than PCs; (Another) Rebuttal To AdWords Tablet/PC Combo

The proliferation of tablet devices has begun to lower the value of the tablet segment overall for paid search marketers, even as competition heats up. That’s according to the Q1 Digital Marketing Report by RKG, which finds that tablets generated 15% lower revenue per click than traditional computers.

Revenue Per Click by Device Type vs ComputerRevenue Per Click by Device Type v Computer

“Discrepancy is More Likely to Increase”

Much has been made of Google’s decision to combine tablets and PCs in enhanced campaigns. The RKG  report is not alone in challenging Google’s claim that usage behavior and ad performance among the devices are similar.

RKG’s authors predict the “discrepancy [between tablets and computers] is more likely to increase than decrease in the near future, despite assertions that the two are blurring together”.

Even among tablet devices, the report finds significant performance variances: “Android tablets generate considerably worse RPC than the iPad, degrading the value of the tablet segment”. And yet, RKG says the iPad’s value of traffic appears to be declining as well as its customer base expands. The strong performance of Windows 8 RPC shown in the chart below is “possibly reflecting an early adopter boost the iPad once enjoyed”.

RPC Tablet v Computer

Rising Mobile CPCs & Spend

The RKG data also points to a trend in rising mobile CPCs. Just prior to Google’s enhanced campaigns announcement, RKG says its clients saw a “distinct jump” in mobile CPCs (both tablet and smartphone) relative to computers, and they have remained elevated.

Mobile CPC As Percentage of Computer by Week

Mobile CPC vs Computer CPC by Week

RKG says that these increases don’t reflect the transition to enhanced campaigns by RKG clients, as they were only conducting limited tests, “but it may be an early indication of a change to the competitive landscape”. This echoes Covario’s Q1 conclusions that advertises will see increased competition for mobile-device advertising with enhanced campaigns.

The RKG report found tablet ad spend rose 162% and smartphone spending increased 190%. For the first time, RKG found total desktop and laptop search traffic fell year-over-year, dropping 0.7%. Mobile searches made up for the loss and more, leading to 15% increase in overall click growth.

Overall, it appears Q1 ushered in a new competitive reality for PPC advertisers. And RKG concludes its “data suggests advertisers may face challenges maintaining their current levels of efficiency”.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords: Enhanced Campaigns | Microsoft: Bing Ads | Search Marketing: Mobile | SEM Industry: Stats | Stats: Search Behavior | Stats: Spend Projections | Top News


About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Matt Van Wagner

    I believe Google has approached the device segmentation issue from the wrong direction. Here’s why:

    1) Study after study is showing that Tablets have different performance profiles than the Desktop segment.

    2) The Desktop segment includes both laptops and desktops. We don’t have AdWords usage and performance data on laptops, because it is hidden within the Desktop segment. It seems reasonable to assume that the Tablet performance differentials observed by studies like this one by RKG, have always existed with laptops, too, but we never had the data to know.

    3) I contend that Tablets are cannibalizing Laptop sales much more then they are cannibalizing desktop computers. I further contend that Tablets are growing independently of replacement decisions. In other words, people have more computers now.

    If my contentions are corrent, then keeping separate Tablet and Desktop segments would have made much more sense.

    As Tablets continue to cannibalize laptops, then the Desktop segment becomes even more purely comprised of only Desktop computers, and the Tablet segment becomes an increasingly significant segment.

    The more savvy segmentation, from an advertiser’s perspective, would have been to keep the two targeting segments, and then at some point in the future, when desktop market share approaches non-significant levels, to merge Desktops computers into Tablet as the simplification measure.

    I believe that point in time is 2-3 years in the future. Desktops, after all, still represent represent ~80% of searches.

    For these reasons, I believe that Google had no need to pull such a fast U-turn with Enhanced Campaigns. The impact to advertisers, agencies and tools providers is incredibly disruptive and expensive, even more so, because the engineering of the ECs is still a work in progress. Holding themselves to short deadlines and aggressive development schedules is Google’s perogative. Holding the rest of the world to the same schedules is, as it turns out, is also Google’s perogative, but it is also reckless and disrespectful of all other stakeholders in the advertising ecosystem.

  • Pat Grady

    It differs in general, but what PPC manager gives a hoot about the variance by device for aggregate industry stats – the point is, it varies more by individual client / account / landing page / campaign / ad group! We’re looking at the average height difference between men and women, and talking about whether the clothing companies can have separate sections for mens and womens clothing… meanwhile, Old Navy and Burberry are both laughing about the stupid “average” stats being tossed around (with a snotty Bit accent, “average shmaverage”, being heard in Exec Meeting Room at Burberry). Specialization necessitates that sewing machine manufacturers don’t create machines that can only be used to make clothes that fit the averages. Anyone see the “Ad group mobile bid adjustments available soon in enhanced campaigns” blog article from G on Tuesday… let me translate… the JohnQPublic Sewing Machine Company Announces New Finer Control Settings Allowing Clothiers To Now Serve Short And Tall Population.

  • Pat Grady

    Let’s shoot spitballs at the next person who uses “enhanced” to describe a machine with less discrete controls. Or at least force them to answer the “enhanced for whom” part they left off.

  • Pat Grady

    And let’s boo and hiss the next guru who uses “industry average”
    anything as a misguided attempt to paint us each the same color. The difference in height between men and women is fairly small, so we garment cutters have decided that clothiers must make unisex, one-size-fits-all, coveralls! Shaq and Snooki aren’t even shown on our chart of averages, so we’re pretty certain they’re outliers we can just ignore. We Dixon Q-tested it, yep, completely safe to ignore anyone’s individual needs. We’re looking at keywords next, pretty sure the industry average stats will let us reduce it to a short drop-down… car insurance, iphone, kim kardashian, taylor swift… maybe 3 others.

  • Pat Grady

    Turns out for cooked food, as served on the table, observed temperatures don’t vary much at all. Announcing a new, “enhanced” electric range with just a single on / off button marked “heat”. Chefs love its simplicity and ease!

  • Matt Van Wagner

    Right on, right on, right on!!

  • Larry Kim

    interesting, i’m seeing the opposite. that tablets and smartphones are worth more than desktop.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide