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Advertisers are experiencing greater click through rates from mobile search than desktop advertising, with CTR 2.7 times higher on average. 

This is one of the stats from an Efficient Frontier study of mobile search trends, which also finds that the sector is growing rapidly. 

Growth of mobile search advertising 

While in June 2010, mobile search ads accounted for just 0.34% of total search spend, the figure has increased five-fold to 1.7% in March 2011. 

The study predicts that spending on mobile search will continue to grow rapidly, and may account for 4.3% by the end of 2011. 

Our UK Search Engine Benchmarking Report uncovered similar trends, with the proportion of companies using mobile search doubling from 8% in last year's report to 16% this year.

Mobile search cost per click

At the moment, cost per click from mobile search advertising is lower, at 60% of desktop CPC on average. By contrast, mobile CPC in the US is normally higher than desktop. 

According to Efficient Frontier: 

The difference between mobile CPC and desktop CPC varies widely between and within verticals – ranging between mobile CPC being twice as much as desktop CPC to desktop CPC being almost 4 times as much as mobile CPC.

This indicates how advertisers are using mobile advertising for different purposes – some aiming to maintain brand presence while others manage their mobile advertising spend based on ROI.

Click through rates

On average mobile CTR is 2.7 times as much as desktop CTR, though this varies between sectors. It can be as much as five times desktop CTR. 

Mobile CTR

At the moment, the higher CTR may well reflect the fact that mobile search advertising is relatively new, and therefore those using it have less competition for clicks. 

Conversion rates

CTR may be good on mobile search, but conversion rates are much lower, just 14% of desktop conversion rates on average. 

It can range between 5% and 80% of desktop conversion rates, so there is a sign that it can be done properly. This is something advertisers can work on though, with landing pages and sites that are optimised for the smaller screen, as well as mobile checkouts

For more, see the Mobile Search Snapshot from Efficient Frontier.

Graham Charlton

Published 18 May, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (17)

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Eddie Finch-Hawkes

I assume you meant March 2011: 'While in June 2010, mobile search ads accounted for just 0.34% of total search spend, the figure has increased five-fold to 1.7% in March 2010. '

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Yes, corrected now. Thanks.

over 5 years ago

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Helen Say

Would be interesting to get some insights as to why conversion rates are lower from mobile. My personal theory is that responders land on pages that are NOT optimised for mobile?

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Helen,

I would think that's the problem. Even if landing pages are optimised for mobile, then the payment process can prove to be too great an obstacle.

over 5 years ago

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Neil Yeomans

Hi, the CTR doesn't have anything to do with being new or lower competition it is to do with how dominant the PPC ads are on mobile devices vs. desktop, which is to do with the single column layout (+ no right-hand column links) & lack of screen real estate.

Additionally, to get desktop conversion rates you need a proper mobile site and mobile-optimised checkout, which is not a prerequisite for mobile PPC bidding.

over 5 years ago

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Jamil Kassam

I was thinking exactly the same thing as Neil. PPC ads are so much more prominent on mobile devices hence the CTRs will naturally be higher. There still seems to be a real opportunity for advertisers drive more traffic from mobiles by creating specific campaigns and look to increase CTRs even further with tailored messaging as opposed to relying on desktop based ad copy.

over 5 years ago

Joseph Pamboris

Joseph Pamboris, Head of Tracking Technology at OMD

In regard to conversion rates,I would also add that mobile cookies are not as prevalent in the mobile space. Many conversions from mobile search will not be trackable in the same way as for online display. Apple devices by default only accept cookies from the page visited.
So users may be converting through mobile search, but we may not be tracking them.
There are ways around this, such as use of a 1st party analytics provider, but thought I would highlight that we need to question the metrics provided as well as the channel.

over 5 years ago

Nick Craig

Nick Craig, Managing Director at Mackerel Media

Given the wide variation in user experiences available on mobile devices, is there any more granular information showing how the CTR and CR rates vary from platform to platform? Likewise connection speed or 'environment' - someone searching on an android device on a bus on the way to work is likely to behave very differently to someone searching on an iPad whilst sitting on the sofa at home, for example.

over 5 years ago

Ed Longley

Ed Longley, Head of Direct Online at Hiscox

An interesting piece that raises a couple of questions.

Should Mobile search be directing responses to a transactional website that is not optimised for mobile use, or is it better to drive responses directly to a call centre via Click to Call?

The conversion that's included doesn't appear to include offline conversions - an important consideration for more complex products/ services.

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

I think, as the last few comments show, the stats raise as many questions as they answer.

I'll post more detailed stats as and when I find them.

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

I think, as the last few comments show, the stats raise as many questions as they answer.

I'll post more detailed stats as and when I find them.

over 5 years ago

Nico Koepke

Nico Koepke, CEO at KODIME LtdSmall Business

Good point by Neil Y, and Joseph re cookies also - it still remains to be seen how the likes of Google will provide advertisers with opportunities that go beyond the 1-3 text lines on small screen - yes more impact / CTR for those ads that are "above the fold" on small screen, but no long tail. Same issues applies to SEO results - ever scrolled mobile search results on your iPhone/BB/HTC?

over 5 years ago

Peter McCormack

Peter McCormack, Founder at McCormack Morrison

@Ed Longley, I don't think they are the choices, companies investing in mobile PPC really should be investing in mobile landing pages.

Interesting article but really not surprising, the phone really is a transactional tool.

over 5 years ago

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Charles

Does anyone have any links to surveys on what the main barriers to conversion are on mobile sites?

My guess would be:
1. Slow connection speeds / slow page-loading speeds.
2. Small screen making it difficult to navigate through checkout pages.
3. More difficult to type on mobiles, again, making checkout much more fussy.

Finally, does anyone have any evidence of successfully using mobile marketing for online retail? I have seen through our web stats that there is a much higher proportion of natural search traffic on mobile than desktop - about 45% vs 30%. The Direct load figures are the mirror image of that, my guess being that people don't use auto-type-ahead or faves as much on mobile. Either way, that makes natural search 50% more important.

over 5 years ago

Jonathan Beeston

Jonathan Beeston, Director, New Product Innovation, EMEA at Media & Advertising Solutions, Adobe

Great to see our data has created such debate! The promising thing is that no longer are we discussing whether mobile is a viable channel for transactions, rather the best way to exploit it.

@Joseph: if you're tracking mobile search via a redirect, then the iphone shouldn't have a problem accepting a cookie. At the time the redirect sets the cookie, it's 1st party. If you're doing it another way, such as with a 3rd party javascript on the landing page, I agree that you're missing data. I would imagine most of the world uses a redirect to track search. The iphone doesn't have a problem with the cookie being read during a transaction, even though it's now in a 3rd party context.

over 5 years ago

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Sara Burton

I'm confused on how to read this chart, is this saying that CPC's are 61% LOWER or HIGHER then compared to desktop?

almost 5 years ago

Jonathan Beeston

Jonathan Beeston, Director, New Product Innovation, EMEA at Media & Advertising Solutions, Adobe

@Sara: The chart says mobile CPCs are 61% of desktop, so they are 39% lower.

almost 5 years ago

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