Google’s recent expansion of local and mobile ads helped search ad spend and click volume to soar during the third quarter of 2016, according to the latest digital marketing report published by data-driven agency Merkle. While growth was slightly down on the previous quarter, investment increased by 20 per cent between July and September.
Merkle’s regular Digital Marketing Report takes a closer look at the trends across the paid and organic search, social and display spectrum and some of the major players in the industry, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook. While search is generally slowing for Google, some of its newly introduced initiatives are paying dividends.
The tech giant expanded its local search ads in Google Maps over the summer and added a fourth ad unit at the top of the page on mobile SERPs. Merkle notes that these two changes mitigated a larger slowdown in spending growth, with advertisers having invested a fifth more on search ads compared to the same quarter a year ago.
Product Listing Ads are also a key driver for Google, with data showing that PLA clicks surged almost 600 per cent faster than text ad clicks during the three months to September. This increase is primarily due to mobile expansion to its search partners, which are able to serve ads on Google Image Search.
However, Google has had less success with Expanded Text Ads, which are designed to assist both advertisers and end-users in a “mobile-first world.” The initiative launched in July, but the report has revealed that it has not had a consistently positive impact on average click-through rates and has only benefitted ads located near the bottom of SERPs. Overall, mobile devices produced just under half of organic search visits and 57 per cent of paid search clicks.
When it comes to display advertising, Facebook is ahead of its competitors in terms of growth after seeing a 63 per cent year-on-year increase in total display and paid search spend. Meanwhile, advertisers invested eight per cent of their budgets on the Google DIsplay Network, which is down slightly compared to this time last year.