Search Marketers Shift Gears as Consumer Habits Change - eMarketer

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Search Marketers Shift Gears as Consumer Habits Change

Search ad spending continues to shift from desktop to mobile

September 28, 2017

Search engine usage gives marketers valuable insight into consumers’ intent, allowing for more effective ads. Now, as media and device habits change to include more voice and visual search, particularly on mobile, brands can use search to reach shoppers in even more ways.

Search ad spending continues to grow robustly in the US, largely due to mobile. Mobile growth is so strong that overall spending increases are in the double digits, despite declines in desktop-based search ad outlays.

Google is still positioned firmly on top of the search world, and is growing its share of US net search ad revenues—both on mobile and overall.

Google Search Ad Benchmarks Worldwide: Click Share, by Device, Q1 2016-Q2 2017 (among campaigns analyzed by iProspect)

Those are just some of the conclusions from eMarketer’s new report, “Search Marketing 2017: Marketers Seek Out Consumer Intent as Device Habits Evolve.” (Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Nonsubscribers can purchase the report here.)

eMarketer estimates that 71.5% of the US population will execute search queries online at least once per month in 2017, which translates to 85.0% of internet users. Searching on smartphones has also become the norm among consumers in recent years: Almost three in five will do so regularly in 2017, up from less than half as recently as 2015.

Despite search ads’ maturity as a format, spending on them continues to grow at double-digit rates in the US, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. That’s all thanks to mobile, where search ad spending will rise by nearly 25% this year even as spending on desktop- and laptop-based search placements declines.

These growth trends have already made search advertising in the US a majority-mobile affair. Last year, almost two-thirds of US search ad dollars went toward mobile placements. Mobile’s share will reach 70.0% this year, and by the end of the forecast period in 2021 will approach 80%.

Google remains the undisputed king of search, in terms of both paid and organic efforts. According to Merkle’s “Q2 2017 Digital Marketing Report,” 89% of all search ad clicks in the US during the period occurred on Google properties. Among smartphone search ad clicks alone, Google’s share was a whopping 97%.

Keyword targeting remains the basis of search advertising. Marketers choose a set of words and phrases, and ads are served to users whose queries include those terms. But search marketers are turning to additional targeting options that include demographics, location and sophisticated forms of audience targeting.

And according to nearly a third of the US marketing leaders polled by enterprise SEO and content performance marketing company BrightEdge in May 2017, voice search and digital assistants are the “next big thing” in search.

Visual search involves users searching based on an image instead of keywords. Similar to voice search, it has been around for a few years with limited consumer uptake. But advancements on the platform side may mean visual search is headed for the spotlight.

In the latest episode of eMarketer's "Behind the Numbers" podcast, analyst Nicole Perrin talks about new and emerging consumer search behaviors, and how they are forcing marketers to rethink some of their strategies for search. This episode is made possible by Oath.


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