Paid search ad spend slowing in the US

Posted by Rebecca Appleton on 13 Oct, 2015
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Fingers are pointing at Yahoo as one of the prime causes of a second consecutive quarter slowdown in paid search spending in the USA.

According to the latest figures from the IgnitionOne Q3 2015 Marketing Report, paid search spend is 12% higher than it was in the same period last year, but is decelerating overall since its peak in January-March. Mobile search spend is doing better, up 56% year-on-year.

One of the findings of the report was a statement that Gemini – the product of a recent partnership between Yahoo and Bing- was at least partly responsible for the poor Q3 figures due to its still limited capability. The data suggests many advertisers are simply hanging on to their budgets rather than investing in paid search due to Gemini limitations on audience and efficiency.

While Yahoo introduced Gemini in order to have more control over their ads and more ability to sell their own ad space on their own search engine, its introduction hasn’t been without its problems. It is widely reported to have issues across reporting, traffic, optimization and asset creation which is off putting for advertisers who might otherwise have invested more of their search dollars in the platform. So far Yahoo has focused on moving its mobile traffic over to Gemini, with the desktop transition expected to begin next quarter. This could lead to more traffic and more search spending, but only if the limitations of the platform are addressed beforehand.

Overall for Q3, spend was found to be down 21% quarter-over-quarter with CPCs and clicks declining 6% and 16% respectively. The number of impressions on ads also fell by 23% quarter-over-quarter. One possible reason for this is that more users are migrating to mobile search, with fewer using desktop devices to access search engines.

The study also showed that of those advertisers who are spending, the majority are focusing on mobiles (64% of spend) rather than tablets (36% of mobile spend in Q3).

When assessed by vertical, there are also some interesting changes with much fewer impressions in education and finance, but sharp increases in click throughs for the same two industries with increases of 76% and 130% respectively. These two shifts can be attributed to seasonality, with education falling as enrolments for the new school year are completed. Automotive and travel companies were the ones to most significantly up their spend for the quarter, investing an extra 32% and 23% compared with the same period last year.

One of the interesting takeaways from the report is that while spend is slowing, businesses are still trying new things – and those shying away from Google and Yahoo are increasingly finding a home with Facebook. The Q3 data shows a 40% increase in ad spend for Facebook at the same time as Google display ad spend fell by 19%.

Did you ease off your ad spend in Q3? Will you increase your budget in Q4 for the holiday season?

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