October 17, 2013, 8:44 AM

Mobile devices account for more than a third of retailers’ paid search clicks in Q3

Mobile accounts for 31% of Google Product Listing Ad clicks, The Search Agency says.

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All of the growth in traffic to retail sites from paid search ads in the third quarter came from mobile devices, according to a client study by online marketing firm The Search Agency.

Clicks from smartphones on search ads grew 105.1% compared with the year-earlier quarter, while clicks from tablets grew 63.4%. Clicks from consumers using desktop and laptop computers were flat, according to The Search Agency’s Q3 “State of Paid Search” report. Altogether, mobile devices accounted for 34.9% of retailers’ paid search clicks in the quarter.

The report is based on data aggregated from the marketing firm’s clients in various industries, including retail. The firm declines to specify the number of clients included.

Smartphones and tablets also accounted for 31% of Google Inc.’s Product Listing Ad clicks in Q3, compared with just 5.4% in the same period last year, The Search Agency says. Product Listing Ads, or PLAs, are an ad format the search giant introduced last summer that appear among organic listings when a consumer searches for a product; they replaced what had been free listings. Retailers in Q3 spent 27.9% more year over year, and 7.8% more quarter over quarter, on those ads, the report says.

“In Q3, we continue to observe consumers migrating toward smartphone and tablet devices,” says Keith Wilson, vice president of agency products at The Search Agency. “With Enhanced Campaigns rolled out and Google's cross-device estimated conversions announcement, marketers must adapt to these new tool sets to understand how to connect with today’s and tomorrow's consumer.”

Enhanced Campaignsare Google’s newest advertising format, with which a marketer can manage all her Google paid search campaigns for any device from one central location. As part of the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns, Google no longer distinguishes between tablets and computers, which means a retailer can no longer advertise just to tablet or just to desktop users.

Total clicks on paid search ads across all devices increased year over year in Q3 on both Google and Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine, by 15.3% and 20.9%, respectively, the report says. However, the average click-through rate on Google fell by 27.1% year over year, while on Bing it increased by 32.2%. Though Bing is closing the gap, Google ads still had a higher overall click-through rate on average —2.06% versus 1.39% on Bing. On both search engines, the cost-per-click was up year-over-year in Q3, by 3.5% on average on Google and by 19.6% on average on Bing.

Google plans to report its third quarter earnings Thursday afternoon.
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