Search agency Covario says tablet cost-per-clicks have overtaken desktop PCs for the first time

Leading independent search marketing agency Covario says spending on pay-per-click advertising (PPC) by its enterprise technology, consumer electronics, and retail clients was up about 33 per cent over the same period last year, and six per cent above the second quarter of 2012.

Alex Funk (left), the global performance media strategist at Covario who produced this quarter’s Global Paid Search Spend Analysis analysis says shifts toward higher PPC spending growth in the Americas balanced by “subdued” advertising spend in much of Europe – which is still impacted by macroeconomic pressures, particularly outside the U., Germany and the Nordic countries.

The Asia Pacific region with its strong double-digit search spend growth is “where major opportunities for paid search exist,” Funk says, while cautioning about signs of a slowdown in China observed in the last few quarters.

Broken out regionally, the Americas, led by the US and Canada, had “noteworthy” spending growth in the quarter – up 39 per cent year-on-year and seven per cent over the last quarter. Funk says annualized search spend increases in the region continue to be expected in the 18-20 per cent range.

In Europe, where the economic recovery has been slow to take hold, paid search growth rates for the third quarter increased ten per year-on-year but only by one per cent over the last quarter. With macroeconomic pressures continuing in the region, Covario has revised its 2012 PPC spend growth forecast down to 5-10 per cent.

In Asia/Pacific, year-on-year search spend growth came in at 45 per cent, while quarter-on-quarter growth declined to seven percent. With spending in China slowing down, Funk says Covario is now revising its annualized forecast for the entire region down to a still very healthy 35-40 per cent range.

The quarterly report, which also includes a cost-per-click (CPC) analysis of the major search engines, found that keyword pricing increased on a global basis for the second consecutive quarter.

“Across all of the search engines, the combination of a four per cent increase in click-through rates and a 12 per cent increase in CPCs suggest that keyword pricing in conjunction with higher performing ad formats – and not volume – has largely been responsible for the sequential growth,” Funk says.

Globally, Google continued to command 87 per cent of the paid search spend market share. Advertiser increases in third quarter search spending with Google were up 34 per cent from a year ago and eight per cent from the second quarter.

The Yahoo-Bing Network, with ten per cent of global search spend market share, grew at a solid pace with spending on its platform increasing 25 per cent year-over-year and five per cent quarter-over-quarter.

Baidu, which dominates the China paid search market with share estimates in that country as high as 80 per cent, saw media spend on its platform grow by 55 per cent year-over-year. However, it suffered a 20 per cent search spend decrease from the second quarter. In the third quarter, Funk says Baidu accounted for about 5 per cent of global PPC spending and “an incredible” 26 per cent of the world’s clicks.

On mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, global spending on paid search advertising increased by 17 per cent in the third quarter versus the previous quarter, and by 90 per cent year-over-year compared to the third quarter of 2011.

For the first time, Funk said that CPCs for tablets eked out a one percentage point edge in the third quarter over desktop CPCs, while keyword pricing for smartphones hovered around 63 per cent of desktop CPCs. He attributed the rise in tablet CPCs to Google’s advertising default opt-in to desktops and tablets, plus a higher degree of user engagement, content consumption, and consumer purchase affinity on the tablet platform.

The full report is available as a free download from the Covario website at

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