At the end of each quarter, Kenshoo analyses the performance of search and social advertising based on over 6,000 advertisers and agencies who use our platform. Our sample includes only clients who have been active on the platform for 5 consecutive quarters and covers more than 425 billion impressions, 6 billion clicks and $3.75 billion in advertiser spend from 51 countries around the world.

Here are the three most important trends we saw in Q4 2014:

1. Advertisers are spending more on both search and social – and they’re doing it more efficiently

Looking at global data we found that advertisers are making larger investments in both search and social. Year-on-year (YoY), search spend grew by 14%, while social saw a 33% increase over the same timeframe. However they are also receiving more clicks from fewer impressions, as these figures show:

  • Paid search clicks increased 8% (YoY), on the back of 4% fewer impressions, driving an 11% rise in click-through rates (CTRs)
  • Social clicks grew by 10% YoY while impressions decreased by 79%.

This greater efficiency is being driven by three factors.

  1. Advertisers have seen the positive influence search and social have on each other, and are optimising cross-channel campaigns using more intelligent audience management
  2. Mobile is growing, and advertisers are now getting the most from mobile ads
  3. Social ad formats are evolving, with new ad types being introduced that make it easier to target the right audience

2014 Q4 Search and Social_1

2. Social advertising proved to be a shrewd investment for direct response marketers

Each social advertising campaign has a different objective with many aiming to increase brand awareness or engagement with their audiences. However if you look solely at those campaigns that aim to generate revenue, you can see a large, and growing return on investment (ROI) when you compare YoY figures on Facebook:

  • Social ad spend is up 30% between Q4 2013 and Q4 2014
  • Cost-per-Click (CPC) has increased by 21% YoY, but this is mitigated by increased ROI and revenue figures
  • Revenue from social ad spend is up 82% over the same period
  • ROI has grown by 40%, rising to $2.50 for every $1 spent

Q4-2014-Social-Blog-Post-Graph-1

What this shows is that social advertising is delivering strong ROI, and that this channel is accelerating. More advertisers are running campaigns on social channels and Facebook itself has made structural changes that help boost engagement and conversion rates. For example, advertising has been migrated from the right hand side to the news feed, while wider adoption of Facebook Exchange and mobile will also continue to improve performance. Video ads are likely to be next key tactic for the short and medium term on Facebook, which will again boost budgets on the channel.

3. EMEA search advertisers earn all-time high of paid search clicks from mobile

Breaking down the data and looking at EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), the key trend is the continuing rise of mobile devices. 34% of clicks, and 33% of spend, now comes from tablets and smartphones in EMEA – back in Q4 2013 these figures were 28% of clicks and 28% of spend respectively. While EMEA trails the Asia Pacific region when it comes to mobile (advertisers spent 38% of budgets on mobile and received 44% of clicks here), it is not far behind the US figures of 37% of clicks and 34% of spend.

Search Ad Trends Q4 2014 - EMEA_MobileCPC-02

Driven by this trend, and increased competition, cost-per-click rates for mobile devices have also risen YoY, although phones are still cheaper than desktop:

  • Tablet cost-per-click €0.49
  • Desktop cost-per-click €0.47
  • Phone cost-per-click €0.41

What our analysis shows is that the performance of digital marketing is strengthening further, delivering tangible revenue to advertisers across search and social channels. Advertisers themselves are becoming more experienced and are leveraging these two complementary channels to drive results, while investing in mobile to reach target audiences. This is reducing wasted impressions as ads are shown to those most likely to convert, consequently increasing ROI. At the same time social networks, such as Facebook, are evolving how they provide advertising, helping to increase engagement through new formats and improvements. Taken together, this is cementing the position of search and social advertising as a critical part of every advertising strategy.

Justin Thorne

Justin Thorne

Contributor


Justin Thorne, Marketing Director, EMEA, Kenshoo.