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Smartphones Take Over Paid Search

US mobile search ad spending to grow by 43.1% this year

The smartphone continues to eat away at desktop’s share of search clicks, at least for paid ads placed on Google. According to August research, the handheld device has increased its share of paid search clicks by about 20 percentage points since 2015, becoming the leading channel for search clicks earlier this year.

Google Search Ad Benchmarks Worldwide: Click Share, by Device, Q1 2015-Q2 2016 (among campaigns analyzed by iProspect)

During Q2 2016, performance media agency iProspect tracked 145,000 active paid search campaigns globally among 1,500 Google AdWords accounts. While the accounts were managed by iProspect US, spending was not confined to US markets.

According to the data, the smartphone has continually increased its share of paid search clicks on Google quarter-over-quarter. In particular, the handheld device’s share has grown from about a third in Q2 2015 to just shy of half of all clicks in Q2. Tablets have remained relatively flat.

Meanwhile, desktop’s share has dropped substantially. Desktops still accounted for a majority of paid Google clicks as recently as Q2 2015, but lost nearly 14 percentage points in share in the year following.

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the push to allocate more dollars to search advertising overall on mobile (including both smartphones and tablet). Looking at the US specifically, eMarketer estimates that mobile search ad spending will grow by 43.1% this year, in stark contrast to desktop search which will see a 11.4% budget decline.

A similar trend is happening outside the US. In Japan, smartphone search ad spending is anticipated to increase over the next few years, from ¥155.9 billion ($1.29 billion) in 2016 to ¥173.1 billion ($1.43 billion) next year. And nearby, in China, mobile search users have grown to more than 477 million.

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