Reports: Tablet Paid-Search Spend Surpasses Smartphones

Two reports out this morning from Marin Software and IgnitionOne capture a range of Q4 paid search ad spending data. For purposes of this article I’m going to focus only on the mobile component of the reports. Both show paid search spending on tablets surpassing smartphones.

The IgnitionOne report, focused on the US market, shows that mobile devices now account for 18 percent of total paid-search budgets. However in Q4 tablet metrics grew dramatically faster than those for smartphones. Right now IgnitionOne says CPCs are lower on tablets, while impressions and clicks are much higher for tablets than smartphones.

Tablets are more PC-like than smartphones. More paid ads that can be shown for a given query so these data make sense — especially in the context of massive tablet adoption growth. On an annualized basis paid-search spending grew 57 percent for tablets and 43 percent for smartphones, according to IgnitionOne.

The Marin Software report shows a similar trend. According to Marin mobile devices generated 22 percent of paid-search clicks and captured 17 percent of overall paid search spend in the US market. In contrast to IgnitionOne, Marin’s customer data reflect slightly more clicks coming from smartphones but they equally reflect a greater tablet ad spend in Q4.

As it does each quarter Marin also reported the CTRs vs. CPCs for each platform. Smartphones saw the most clicks and the lowest CPC. Tablets followed and PCs were last.

Marin didn’t report on “conversions” this time. Historically Marin has shown smartphones underperform the other two platforms when it comes to (e-commerce) conversions  However that’s largely because smartphone-influenced conversions happen later on a PC or tablet or in the physical world for the most part.

The Marin report shows similar directional trends for international markets. For example, the following graphs reflect the mix of clicks and spending for the three platforms in the Eurozone.



Now is the time for opportunistic marketers to take advantage of lower CPCs in mobile. However, many paid-search marketers are not doing that. Various past reports have shown relatively low adoption of phone and location extensions in AdWords, for example. In addition most marketers haven’t optimized their sites for tablets. However, for e-commerce sellers tablets will likely turn out to be as important as PCs.

At SMX West we’ll have a number of panels devoted to mobile search and conversion optimization for mobile devices, including tablets.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Search Marketing: Mobile | Stats | Stats: General | Stats: Search Behavior | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Pat Grady

    Loves me some tablet traffic.

  • RankWatch

    Number of factors do influence the domination of smartphones in US as far as ad clicks are concerned. Since Google has the major mobile advertising share in US and it displays 2 ads at the top of the search results on mobile with the real estate being so less, its evident that ads on phone have got more impressions and clicks. Its also be because of the rapid smartphone sales and adoption in US.

  • Rashiyabarcher

    Tablets are more PC-like than smartphones bcoz its software is as almost same then the PC and its is more easy to carry as compare to Laptops……

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