Marketers spent 36% more on Google Shopping ads during the third quarter than they did in the same period a year earlier, according to a new report by performance marketing agency Merkle Group Inc. While that’s down from 43% year-over-year growth in the second quarter, that’s largely a reflection of a tough year-over-year comparison.
Google Shopping ads accounted for 48% of retailers’ Google paid search clicks in the quarter, a two percentage point increase from the second quarter. The image-focused ads, which are also called Product Listing Ads, are set to account for more than half of retailers’ paid search clicks by the end of the year, Merkle says.
Merkle’s report is based on data compiled from its clients that have worked with the vendor for a t least 19 months and who have not changed their strategic objectives or product offerings. Merkle clients include 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., No. 57 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, and Urban Outfitters Inc., No. 39.
In comparison to the strong Google Shopping growth, Google text ad spending rose just 9% year over year, compared to 10% growth in the second quarter.
Overall, advertisers boosted their Google search ad spending 20% in the third quarter, down from 22% growth in the previous quarter. Year over year, consumers’ paid search clicks grew 28% and the cost per click fell 6%.
That growth was roughly in line with paid search spending among retailers on Google. Retailers boosted their Google paid search ad spending on Google 21% during the quarter. For retailers, paid search clicks grew 28% and the cost per click fell 6% year over year.
Those solid results were far different from Bing and Yahoo Gemini, which saw their combined search ad spending fall 14% year over year during the third quarter, compared to a 17% dip the previous quarter. Bing Product Ad spending fell 12% year over year, while Gemini’s share of click volume across both platforms was flat at 17%.
Google’s growth was helped in part by a rise in mobile ad spending. Mobile’s share of paid search clicks rose four percentage points to 57% during the quarter, from 53% the two previous quarters. Smartphones accounted for roughly 45% of those clicks, with tablets hitting about 13% (the percentages don’t add up to 57% due to rounding).
Mobile accounted for 40% of paid search spending during the quarter, up six percentage points from the previous quarter. Smartphones accounted for 26% of those clicks and tablets 14%.
The report notes that Google produced 95% of search ad clicks that were made on smartphones in the third quarter, a far more dominant position than it holds for tablets (where it accounts for 86% of paid search clicks) and desktop (78%).
Even as more consumers are clicking on mobile search ads, organic search visits from smartphones rose 9% during the quarter compared to a year earlier, the first quarter this year with growth. In part, the year-ago comparison is weaker because it was in the second quarter of 2015, more than a year ago , that Google added a third top-of-page ad to smartphone results, which made it more likely a consumer would click on an ad. Even with that organic smartphone traffic growth, overall organic search visits were down 5% as desktop visits fell 7% and tablet visits declined 27%.
The report also finds that total display and paid social advertising spending jumped 46% year over year during the quarter, with Facebook leading the way with a 63% increase. While the cost per click for Facebook ads fell 22%, the cost per thousand impressions rose 38%.
Meanwhile, the share of advertiser’s total investment in Google advertising allocated to the Google Display Network fell slightly to 8% from 9% the previous quarter. Despite the overall decline, about half of Merkle clients have increased their Google Display Network spending from 2015’s third quarter.