Merkle Q4 2017: Search ad click growth fell, ad spend rose 23% across Google, Bing, Yahoo

Overall, in Q4 2017, search ad click volume growth slowed by 9 percent as the average cost per click (CPC) increased 14 percent. Spend rose 24 percent year over year. Engagement and conversion performance from search ads improved, however, and clicks from phones accounted for 50 percent of all clicks for the first time. Those are among the findings reported in Merkle’s Q4 2017 Digital Marketing Report.
Source: Merkle
These search ad trends are consistent with the Q4 performance trends reported by Marin Software last week.
Google ad spend growth slowed slightly from Q3
Spending on Google search ads increased 23 percent overall year over year in Q4 2017. Retail and consumer goods spending on search ads rose 24 percent during the holiday season, according to Merkle’s Q4 2017 Digital Marketing Report.
That growth in search ad spend is actually a slight deceleration from Q3. Search spend jumped 38 percent on mobile and 21 percent on desktop. Click volume growth slowed sharply to 8

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Insights from our 2017 holiday retail survey

By most accounts, the holiday shopping season was an e-commerce success, with final tallies beating analyst estimates. Earlier this month, we asked e-commerce teams about their holiday marketing strategies — planning, budgeting and expectations — and what they did differently this year from last year.
Nearly 100 respondents shared their feedback. The majority (57 percent) of respondents worked in-house, while 43 percent were at agencies. The client/company size represented skewed to the smaller end, with 60 percent of respondents working with companies with annual revenues below $25 million. Nearly 13 percent represented companies with annual revenues over $500 million.
There were several interesting findings from the survey. Here are some of the highlights from the final results.
Holiday budgets rose across most platforms
Overall, search and social budgets increased this holiday season over the previous year, with 70 percent of respondents saying they increased budgets on both channels. Display retargeting budgets for more than half of respondents (56 percent) also increased

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Marin: Search CPCs outpaced spend growth in Q4 2017

Paid search spending increased by just over 10 percent year over year in Q4 2017 across Marin Software’s customer base. CPC growth doubled that of overall spend with an increase of roughly 20 percent year over year.
Mobile CPCs increased 25 percent year over year, accounting for 53 percent of total spend. Google took 89 percent of search spend share, with 11 percent going to Bing. The findings are part of Marin’s Q4 2017 Digital Benchmarks Report highlighting some of the key metrics realized across the accounts running campaigns through the platform.
Click volume was off roughly 7.5 percent from Q4 2016, while click-through rates increased from roughly 1.75 percent to more than 2.5 percent.
Source: Marin Software
Given the holiday season, it’s not surprising to see investment and activity in Shopping ads increase. Marin saw Google Shopping ad click share increase by 31 percent from Q3 to Q4 2017.
Looking more closely at CPCs by industry, education continues to stand out,

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5 (less obvious) PPC trends to watch in 2018

In closing out our big recap of all the big 2017 trends and changes in PPC, I predict we’ll see trends in artificial intelligence, audience targeting, attribution and local marketing continue to develop in 2018.
Those are all exciting areas, but that’s not a particularly earth-shattering prediction. Here is a look at five trends that are related but slightly askew from the major themes that will play out in paid search over the coming year.
1. Structured data will matter even more
It’s not just for SEO, and I suspect we’ll be talking about structured data much more on the ads side in 2018. Cindy Krum makes the case in her (must-read) column on mobile SEO predictions for 2018 that structured data will become a bigger factor in the year ahead as the mobile-first index rolls out. Krum primarily discusses Schema markup, but advertisers also provide files of structured data via product feeds in Merchant Center and Business data feeds

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Bing Ads now supports call conversion imports

Marketers running Bing Ads campaigns can now import call conversion data so they can tie calls back to campaign efforts for attribution.
Third-party call-tracking systems can integrate directly with Bing Ads via the Offline Conversion Import tool or APIs.
CallTrackingMetrics is among the first call-tracking services to participate in the program. The system can automatically send session and conversion data to Bing Ads campaigns.
Bing Ads first began supporting offline conversion imports in September of this year, enabling advertisers to attribute offline conversion events captured in their CRM systems.
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Bing expands Shopping Campaigns to Canada & India

Bing Ads has announced the expansion of Shopping Campaigns to Canada and India starting today.
Advertisers may now begin targeting Canada and India with their Shopping Campaigns. Quebec will be the one exception in Canada, as Bing product ads are only supported in English in Canada, and Quebec’s language laws mandate that stores located in the province must also provide a French website experience.
Bing product ads are now available in Canada and India.
These latest countries join the US, the UK, France, Germany and Australia with support for Bing Shopping Campaigns. Bing product ads launched in the US in 2014, with its first international expansion into the UK in April 2016.
 
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Microsoft search revenue grew 15% last quarter, after hovering around 10% previous 4 quarters

In its first quarter results of fiscal year 2018, ending September 30, 2017, Microsoft reported search advertising revenue grew by 15 percent year over year, excluding traffic acquisition costs (TAC). Gross revenue from search advertising rose by $210 million, compared to $124 million the previous quarter. The majority of Microsoft’s search advertising revenue comes from its Bing search engine.
The first quarter of the company’s fiscal year 2018 marks the first meaningful increase in revenue growth for Bing Ads since Windows 10 first came on the scene.
The bump is surprising after four stagnant quarters. Last quarter, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said total search revenue growth would slow with the renegotiated Yahoo deal and associated change in revenue recognition having passed the one-year mark.
As it has for the previous five quarters, Microsoft cited “increased revenue per search and search volume” for the revenue growth.

LinkedIn generated $1.1 billion in revenue for the quarter, with sessions up more than 20 percent year over

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The nitty-gritty paid search account health check: Part 2

Welcome to the second and final post in a two-part series about paid search account audits. If you haven’t read the first post, be sure to check it out here! Without further ado, let’s dive right into the good stuff — the remaining analyses standing between you and a perfectly manicured paid search account.
Keywords and negatives
Keywords are essentially the building block of your search campaigns, so needless to say, there’s always room for an audit. Here are some things to review:

Are there any keywords that are spending money without converting?

I look at this in different time frames, including the past 30 days or longer time frames, such as “all time,” because there could be keywords flying under the radar that may not be spending money quickly but that are slowly spending — like a small leak that can do damage over time.

Are there any keywords that are below the first page bid?
Are there keywords that haven’t really

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Bing Ads announces new Editor features for ad extensions

Bing Ads announced on Thursday some new features in Editor related to ad extension management.
These new features are now available for the Windows version of Bing Ads Editor, and they will soon be available for the Mac version.
Ad extension scheduling
Advertisers can control when their ad extensions are shown in Editor, including by date, day of the week and time of day. There’s also support for times to be based on either the advertiser’s time zone or the searcher’s time zone.
These scheduling options allow advertisers to run ad extensions only during appropriate times and help enhance relevance. For example, a restaurant may want to have callout extensions enabled for the morning to highlight breakfast items, and then schedule them to turn off when breakfast stops serving and turn on callouts for dinner promotion.
The new scheduling options displayed when extensions are highlighted in Editor:

Clicking Edit in the Ad Schedule section of the editing pane brings up a scheduling window:

 
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Spark Foundry takes home Bing’s 2017 Agency of the Year & Innovator of the Year awards

Spark Foundry was the big winner at last night’s Bing 2017 Agency Awards event.
With offices in both New York City and Chicago, Spark Foundry was named Agency of the Year for the US and Innovator of the Year, and the team’s Colette Trudeau took home the Trailblazer of the Year Award.
Bing handed out 15 different awards during the program to search industry executives and agencies.
“This is a glamorous black-tie affair that celebrates the practice of Search and recognizes our key agency partners for their outstanding creative, effective and passionate work with Bing Ads in the Americas,” wrote Bing on its Search Blog, when it announced the event back in June.
Spark Foundry shared its Agency of the Year Award for the US with Performics Practices Team. Bing also gave an Agency of the Year Award for Canada to iProspect and an Agency of the Year award for Brazil to Blinks.
In addition to Trudeau, other individuals to be recognized

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