Consumers are significantly more likely to click through a search ad on a smartphone or tablet than they would on a desktop computer, said Matt Lawson, VP of marketing and partnerships at Marin Software, a provider of paid search management services. Consequently, Marin Software’s study “State of Mobile Search Advertising in the US 2012” anticipates 25% of Google’s US paid search clicks will come from smartphones and tablets by December 2012.
Mobile smart devices constituted only 5% of paid search clicks in January of this year, said Lawson, describing the projected increase of paid search clicks by the end of 2012 as “explosive adoption.” Marin Software’s report found that consumers were more likely to engage with mobile ads than with desktop ads; click-through rates on smartphones were 72% than on desktops and 31% higher on tablets than on desktops.
Because the increased consumer uptake of smartphones and tablets is changing how consumers interact with brands and how they make purchases, Lawson believes advertisers need to adapt their marketing strategies by re-evaluating their mobile search budgets and optimizing websites and ads for mobile use as mobile devices become more common.
“The first step is separating mobile from desktop campaigns,” Lawson said. Brands need to understand that within mobile, customers are often looking to perform tasks other than making purchases, such as finding store locations or looking for contact numbers. Conversely, tablet customers have different needs. “[Brands] need a more graphical landing page,” Lawson said, emphasizing how enterprises must “think differently when targeting mobile users.”
However while click-through rates on smart devices were higher than click-through rates on desktops, Marin Software’s report showed desktops had the best conversion rate with 5.2%. Smartphones offered only a 2.0% rate. Tablets had a 4.9% conversion rate, attributed to its comparability to desktop computers. Because tablets also had the lowest cost per conversion compared to smartphones and computers, Marin Software concluded tablets delivered the best overall return on ad spend (ROAS).
While Marin Software’s data showed smartphones significantly underperformed in conversions, Marin stated in the report that more research is necessary as smartphones are used differently than tablets. For example, because smartphones are used for comparing prices and checking product reviews while consumers are in a physical store, conversions may actually happen in-stores, making them more difficult to track.
“The biggest challenge is tracking customers and tracking ROI,” Lawson said. “It’s hard to track what [customers] are doing in their apps.”