Google in Q3: Mobile and Shopping Traffic Up, Desktop CPCs Flat
Published: October 10, 2014
Author: Bob Sturges
With Google’s earnings coming up, it always gives us an excuse to look back at how the industry has changed year over year. The last time I did this, roughly six months ago, there were some huge swings in mobile. Was that the case again when we compared Q3 2013 to Q3 2014?
Not as much, but still nothing to scoff at. Looking at a subset of our Google accounts that had mobile traffic last year (total search/display impressions: 4,669,711,292), we have seen nearly flat spend for tablets on the search network and a 20% rise in mobile spend on the search network (total search impressions: 1,708,699,821). Mobile CPCs were relatively flat, however, and so the above metrics translated to a 14% increase in mobile traffic YoY. Across all 3 devices (desktop, tablet, mobile), our search network traffic grew by 3%.
In what feels like a first for me, search desktop CPCs actually dropped YoY, by 10%. It could be that placing more automation in the hands of Google actually leads to better optimization and reduced “bad spend”. What also could be happening is a few clients in the subset we were looking at have thrown off the numbers. I would not be surprised if Google announced CPC increases across all devices during the earnings call.
On the Google Display Network (total impressions: 2,961,011,471), however, our clients saw some large growth in mobile…at least, mobile spend. Clicks actually shrank by 24%, but CPCs increased by a whopping 52%. This translated to a 15% increase in overall mobile spend on display. One reason for this could be a shift to Google’s improved Conversion Optimizer, where users have less control over mobile bidding. This of course means more clients generating a more mobile-friendly experience for their users.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Q3 write-up without mentioning the looming holidays. Google has made a number of changes this year to their Shopping platform, and many auctions that were formerly “traditional” search auctions are now heavily skewed toward Shopping ads. These generally provide a better user experience, but again it takes a bit more control away from the advertiser.
I would expect Google to announce some growth YoY for Q3 in Shopping ads, with the emphasis really being on how big a part they’re expected to play in Q4. Don’t expect as big a shift when it comes to mobile devices as last year, though: since Q3 2013 was the first full quarter post-enhanced campaigns, metrics should not shift as dramatically as they have been for recent earnings calls.