January 26, 2012, 9:46 AM

Smartphones and tablets best PCs in click-through rates

Mobile paid search is heating up, a Marin Software report finds.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Data from the fourth quarter points out the click-through rates for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.

The numbers continue to add up for mobile commerce. An analysis of the paid search spend of more than 1,000 advertisers in the fourth quarter, including retailers such as Macy’s Inc., No. 17 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, and Hotels.com, finds that the consumers are more likely to click on an ad on a search results page when using smartphones and tablets than when using desktop and laptop computers, says Marin Software Inc., an online advertising services and technology firm.

The smartphone click-through rate, which measures the number of clicks an ad receives against the number of times the ad is shown, was 1.25% in the fourth quarter of 2011. The rate for tablets was 1.31%. Desktops and laptops came in at 0.95%.

Tablets and smartphones garnered 4% and 6%, respectively, of the click share for the paid ads included in Marin’s “U.S. Online Advertising Report, Key Trends & Insights, October-December 2011.” While no year-ago data is available, mobile devices represented 5% of clicks on paid search ads in the third quarter, says Matt Lawson, Marin Software vice president of marketing.

“Tablets and smartphones, while still in the early stages of adoption relative to desktop computers, are showing strong and accelerating gains in search shares, while delivering quality performance with higher than average click-through rates,” the report notes.

The implication for retailers is clear, Lawson says. They need paid search campaigns unique to their mobile commerce efforts, he says. Lawson offers some advice: “Write creative specifically for the mobile screen,” he says, such as using shorter and more direct words.

Retailers also may consider urging consumers to visit a local store. “Many mobile phone users will be looking for store information rather than looking to buy a product online,” he says.

Comments | 3 Responses

  • Just curious - Do you think this is due to the intent of searchers on Smart Phones and Tablets? Or could the smaller screen sizes (Smart Phones and Tablets) are giving Paid Top Listings an advantage?

  • How was the research conducted? Tablets might have a higher number because the lower amount of impressions or ads served. The CTR percentages are based on # of impression relative to the # of clicks. Perhaps a mean would be more accurate. Then variable factors to consider such as how entertaining was the ad, did the ad have a call-to-action, are ads on Smartphones more likely to have accidental clicks, etc.

  • @JustinDMG ... it's probably a bit of both. @VanNguyen ... you raise some good points. In this instance, we looked at straight averages across a broad cross section of clients (representing well over $1 billion in annual spend). The same methodology was used to calculate CTR across devices. Accidental clicks notwithstanding, we think the numbers are fairly representative of industry trends. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.... Gagan @ Marin

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