Marketers continued to exhibit their proficiency with—and the efficiency of—search engine marketing on Google, according to Adobe Digital Index’s Q4 2014 “Global Digital Advertising Report.” Click-through-rate (CTR) growth on Google outpaced cost-per-click (CPC) growth, ADI found.
ADI’s analysis is based on consumer data from brand sites during 2013 and 2014. It looked at more than 400 billion Facebook post impressions and 500 billion Google and Yahoo Bing ad impressions captured through Adobe Media Optimizer and Adobe Social.
Google’s global CTR was up 19% year-over-year (YoY), according to ADI, while CPC was up only 8% during the same period. Yahoo Bing, on the other hand, isn’t as efficiently optimized yet, with CTR growth flat and CPC growth up 7% YoY.
“Marketers are optimized almost fully on Google,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI. “They are getting much better CTRs, and the CPCs are not as high as the CTRs are, in terms of growth. Marketers are also incorporating Yahoo Bing into their strategies, which is seeing an increase in SEM spend globally and in the U.S. Although spend is increasing, CTRs are still flat, showing that marketers haven’t yet optimized Yahoo Bing as effectively as Google—that’s obviously the next frontier. The other frontier is paid Facebook, which is currently in the acquisition phase, and marketers are fully entrenched and quickly becoming fully optimized.”
According to the report, retailers turned to Facebook during the holiday season to encourage shopping and drive higher sales. Paid impressions on Facebook from retailers were up 53% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) and up 13% YoY. On the other hand, organic impressions on Facebook declined YoY, down 32%, as Facebook aggressively makes it more difficult for brands to be successful on its platform without adopting its pay-to-play system of advertising. Unsurprisingly, the number of posts on Facebook by retailers was up 31% QoQ in the fourth quarter, and up a whopping 64% YoY.
Despite the fact that Facebook updates its algorithm quite frequently, marketers have still been able to effectively optimize consumer engagement and keep pace with the Facebook changes. ADI found that post-interaction rates, defined as comments, likes, shares, and other interactions with a posts, increased in retail overall, as well as with video and link-based posts. In fact, interaction rates for Facebook posts from retail brands were up 14% YoY.
Interaction rates for links were up 36% YoY.
“What’s happening with marketers is that there are constant changes going on with Facebook’s algorithm that favor certain types of posts,” Gaffney explained. “A colleague recently pointed out to me that it used to take marketers six to eight months to respond to a Facebook algorithm change. Now marketers adjust their strategies much quicker to ensure they maintain their reach and capitalize on whatever the algorithm adjustment that is going to favor them in the Facebook news feed.”
ADI also found that for Google Shopping Ads, formally known as product listing ads, retailers increased their overall campaign spend, up 47% YoY. Meanwhile, text ad spend in the retail sector was down 6% YoY, making the point that advertisers are gravitating toward creating an image-based Web shopping experience for consumers, according to Matthew Roberts, an analyst with ADI.
Even with an impressive level of spend growth for Google Shopping Ads, text-based ads still dominated the SEM retail space, with a commanding 66% share of clicks. Google Shopping Ads, though growing at a fast pace, accounted for just 20% of all retail SEM clicks in the U.S. Yahoo Bing only recently added the shopping ad feature to its platform and thus accounted for less than 1% of U.S. retail clicks.
ADI also looked at what days of the week work best for each type of digital advertising. The key findings advertisers should remember: Mobile Search Sundays, Desktop Search Mondays, and Facebook Fridays.
On mobile devices, consumer search click frequency was highest during the weekends, with share of mobile clicks on Sunday 17% higher than the average day. Desktop search clicks ranked highest on Mondays, outperforming the rest of the week by 9%.
Finally, ADI found that Friday has a higher share of Facebook posts, impressions, and interaction rates than any other day.
“I think the key takeaway of this report is that marketers are branching out,” Gaffney said. “They have access to powerful tools and, as a result, are more capable of buying many types of digital media at the same time. This requires a programmatic media-buying strategy capable of leveraging those tools and more efficiently optimizing advertising campaigns. Last year, we talked about how we need to get off being a one-trick pony and move into multiple types of optimization. It looks like that has happened.”
See what the Twitterverse is saying about Adobe Digital Index:
About Adobe Digital Insights
Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
Receive email updates on the latest Adobe Digital Insights Research.