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Merkle Digital Marketing Report: Q4 2015 Released

Today, we are pleased to announce the release of the Merkle Q4 2015 Digital Marketing Report. This report highlights trends and changes in the digital marketing space, providing data and commentary across paid search, SEO, display advertising, social media and more.

Additionally, this edition of the report includes a brief review of all of the biggest changes to hit digital marketing over the past twelve months and how brands were affected. There is also an in-depth analysis of the recent rise of Google search partner PLA traffic, which grew throughout the holiday shopping season.

Download the report here.

Here are just a few of the major storylines covered in this report.

Paid Search

Overall, advertisers saw the largest Y/Y click growth of 2015 in Q4, as traffic grew 19% and spend grew 18%. CPC declined 1% in aggregate, primarily a result of increased mobile traffic share as Google made changes in the second half of 2015 to significantly increase mobile clicks. Google phone CPC was 59% lower than that of desktop in Q4.

Bing and Yahoo spend was flat Y/Y as clicks fell 7%. Yahoo Gemini grew to account for 17% of all Bing and Yahoo traffic by the end of Q4, and most advertisers are now using the Gemini platform.

Organic Search & Social

As mobile paid search traffic grew at the end of 2015, mobile organic search growth significantly declined. In Q4, organic growth on phones was just 4%, compared to 51% growth as recently as Q2.

Google’s share of organic search visits fell from 85% in Q3 to 83% in Q4, with Yahoo and Bing each gaining a point quarter-to-quarter. Google’s organic visit share decline is largely the result of changes which resulted in more search traffic heading to paid ads.

Social visits accounted for 2.7% of all site traffic in Q4, a slight uptick from last Q4.

Comparison Shopping Engines

Amazon Product Ads were discontinued at the end of October, but still accounted for 6% of all CSE spend in Q4. These ads provided advertisers with 20% as much sales revenue as Google Product Listing Ads for brands using both formats as recently as Q2.

Across all CSEs, phone and tablet devices accounted for 23% of all traffic, compared to 48% in paid search. Among major CSEs, eBay Commerce Network had the highest share coming from mobile devices at 33%.


As Google search traffic and spend grew at the highest rates of 2015 in Q4, GDN share of total Google spend slipped from 11% in Q3 to 10% in Q4.

Looking at total Facebook ad spend compared to GDN spend for advertisers investing in both platforms, the GDN accounted for three times as much spend for the median retail advertiser in Q4.

Download the Q4 2015 Digital Marketing Report for more.