Google Finds Three Is Better Than Two

U.S. paid search spending on Google rose 18% in the third quarter year-over-year and bested a Q2 increase of 12%. Click growth, meanwhile, improved by 13% following a 1% decline in the last quarter, all because of a Google gambit to prove that more is actually more. Showing three text ads instead of two above organic search results on phones paid off, according to Merkle/RKG’s Q3 Digital Report.

Google’s new three-beats-two strategy also apparently helped derail concerns that Apple’s adding ad blocking to its iOS Safari software would diminish ad productivity on mobile. But Merkle/RKG reports that iOS 9 accounted for over half of iOS traffic after just three weeks, and over that period, iOS maintained its 64% share of all mobile traffic.

Its other Q3 discoveries:

  • Yahoo’s Gemini has failed to deliver net gains. Though Yahoo continues to migrate search ad traffic to its new ad platform, Gemini traffic appears to be cannibalizing Bing. Click growth for Yahoo in Q3 was just 7% compared to a 38% rise in Q1 when Yahoo became the default search provider for Firefox.
  • Phones produced 27% of paid search clicks in Q3, up from 20% a year earlier. Tablet click share fell to 16%, from 18% a year earlier. Phones and tablets combined for 32% of search spending.
  • Social media sites produced 2.3% of all site visits in Q3 with Facebook leading the way with 64% of social media referrals. Mobile devices accounted for 61% of social media visits.

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