Paid search adds tracking; mobile lacks conversion

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Alex Funk is the global performance media strategist at search marketing agency Covario Inc. BtoB spoke with him about the current growth in paid and mobile search. BtoB: Covario's “Global Paid Search Spend Analysis,” released last month, showed 33% growth in paid search expenditures in the third quarter year over year. What's happening to account for this surge in paid search? Alex Funk: A lot of things are up, including impression levels, click-through rates on those impressions and click volume. Cost-per-clicks is up slightly. So quarter-over-quarter or year-over-year, there are nice gains across the board. But why? A couple of things are happening. First, look at Google. The biggest thing now is the monetization of nearly all the clicks above the fold. There are more ads above the fold, either more ad units or bigger real estate for the paid ads. A couple of quarters back, Google rolled out ad extensions with such extra information in search ads as address, phone number and multiple site links. So paid search ads are richer than ever. Also, click-to-conversion (CTC) is going up, meaning there is better tracking and analysis going on to help advertisers validate the price per visitor. Yes, Google is much more expensive than Bing and others, but that's because it tends to perform well and at scale. Not that Yahoo or Bing doesn't perform; but when it does perform, it's not to scale to get volume. BtoB: What did your study tell you about mobile search? Funk: We hear varying numbers for year-over-year growth. Some companies grew several hundred percent because they invested heavily in mobile. For many, mobile now accounts for 20% to 25% of the total search budget. But mobile search is still a challenge to tie it back to conversions. After all, how many people are content to fill out a form on a mobile device? But mobile is a legitimate search touch point. While it can't drive acquisition goals, you don't want to miss out on that opportunity to provide a message and have an engagement point with potential customers. With mobile search, you can offer a creative experience by simplifying the message, sending visitors to a mobile-specific landing page and then figuring out if that page can result in future actions.
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