What’s Holding Back Mobile Search Advertising?

Digital marketing is an increasingly mobile industry – so what’s going on with mobile search ads?

Since sometime in the middle of last decade, more web traffic has occurred on mobile devices than on desktop computers. The majority of searches and search clicks also occur on smartphones and tablets.

That trend will accelerate in 2020 and throughout the decade. eMarketer recently estimated that nine out of 10 smartphone users in the United States used their device for search in 2019. That’s approximately 211 million people, a massive audience that is receptive to mobile digital marketing. Marketing technology provider Kenshoo and performance agency Merkle reported that 70 and 69 per cent of their clients’ ad clicks came from mobile devices, respectively.

And yet, Kenshoo’s clients spent just half their ad budgets on mobile search ads in 2019; Merkle’s clients spent just 41 per cent. With more searches and clicks coming from mobile than desktop, why does desktop continue to dominate budgets?

For Kenshoo’s clients, the answer is pricing: mobile ad prices are historically lower. For Merkle’s clients, performance was an issue. Revenues per click for non-branded paid search placements on mobile were just 34 per cent as high as on desktop, eMarketer says. Costs-per-click (CPC), meanwhile, are not reliably lower: in many high competition verticals, the cost to appear in a top-two spot may actually be higher than on desktop. Mobile ads simply don’t deliver the same bang-for-buck.

Keep an eye on paid mobile search this year. If revenues per click begin to tip upward, mobile search ads’ could be worth the cost.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media can help your company improve its online presence and streamline its digital advertising approach. For more information paid search marketing, our additional services, our team, or our approach, don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more.


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