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Merkle | RKG Digital Marketing Report: Q4 2014 Released

We’re pleased to announce today’s release of Merkle | RKG’s Q4 2014 Digital Marketing Report for download. The DMR highlights the latest trends in paid search, search engine optimization, display advertising, product listing ads (PLAs), comparison shopping engines, and other topics across the digital marketing spectrum. Additionally, this edition of the report examines geographic phone usage in paid search, as well as the impact of the Yahoo deal to become the default search engine for Mozilla Firefox users. Updates on the rise of Product Ads on Bing Ads and the growth of Yahoo's Gemini platform are also included. Download the Q4 2014 DMR Here Here’s an amuse-bouche of some of the content you can expect across the channels covered by the report.

Paid Search

The holiday shopping season started off with a bang for paid search marketers, with cumulative sales up 24% year-over-year through Cyber Monday. Y/Y growth cooled in the middle of December, and advertisers ended up driving 20% greater revenue through paid search this holiday season than in 2013.


This corresponded with a 21% increase year-over-year in total Q4 paid search investment, driven by a 14% increase in traffic and a 6% increase in average CPC.


Looking at growth by ad format, Product Listing Ads clearly drove much of the increase in volume year-over-year, accounting for 51% more clicks and 45% more ad spend than last year, compared to 6% and 10% increases in clicks and spend for text ads.


Organic Search & Social

Organic search share of all site visits declined from 36% last Q4 to 35% in 2014. Yahoo's share of organic search increased to 7.5% in Q4, while Google saw it's share decline half a percentage point in the wake of the Yahoo-Firefox deal.


The share of organic traffic coming from mobile devices continues to grow, coming in at 42% in Q4 compared to 40% in Q3. Android devices saw the biggest increase in share quarter-quarter.


Mobile share of site visits from social media also grew, up from 37% in Q4 of 2013 to 52% this year. This marks the first quarter that over half of all social media driven visits have come from mobile devices.


Comparison Shopping Engines

Advertisers bidding on both Amazon Product Ads and Google Product Listing Ads saw Amazon revenue climb to 19% of that generated by PLAs in Q4. This was up from 8% in Q4 of 2013.


  The eBay Commerce Network saw an increase in CSE spend share from 18% to 33% year-over-year in Q4, while PriceGrabber saw a three point increase. Both of these engines give advertisers the option to submit bids below the suggested rate cards, allowing retailers to get more out of these engines than CSEs with more rigid rate card systems.



Facebook Ad Exchange (FBX) spend was up 46% year-over-year in Q4, up from 30% year-over-year growth in Q3. This was primarily the result of increased volume, as average CPC was up just 9%, about the same increase seen in Q3.


CPM for FBX was significantly below that of the GDN and other display networks, but the gap has been decreasing since FBX rolled out a larger right hand rail format in late Q2 that decreased ad inventory and increased competition.