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Merkle|RKG Digital Marketing Report: Q1 2015 Released

We are excited today to announce the release of Merkle|RKG’ s Q1 2015 Digital Marketing Report. Now available for download, this quarter’s report offers data and analyses on the latest trends across paid search, product listing ads, search engine optimization, display advertising and other topics surrounding digital marketing. In addition, the Q1 report includes a deep-dive into evidence suggesting a decrease in the number of available impressions on Google, which may be stalling click growth for advertisers. We also take a look at mobile click and cpc growth by geography, as well as how well companies in the Fortune 500 and IR 500 have prepared for Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update. Download the Q1 2015 Digital Marketing Report Here Here is a taste of the content you can expect across the many different channels studied in the report.

Paid Search

Google year-over-year paid search spend growth decelerated from 19% in Q4 to 13% in Q1, as click growth plummeted to 0.2%. Average cost-per-click increased by 13% year-over-year, the largest increase of the past six quarters.


One explanation for Google’s lack of growth in terms of paid search traffic is Yahoo’s deal with Mozilla Firefox in Q4 to replace Google as the default search engine of the browser. Google’s share of paid search clicks coming from Firefox browsers decreased from an average of about 74% prior to the change to 51% during the roll-out of Firefox 34 in the second week of December, before rebounding back to around 55% by the end of Q1.


However, the Firefox deal shifted only about 2% of search volume from Google to Yahoo, and does not fully explain the lack of click growth. Another reason behind the lack of traffic growth is the apparent decline of available ad impressions on Google, as year-over-year growth for text ad impressions began plummeting in mid-2014 and was at -18% growth for the month of March.


Organic Search & Social

Organic search visit volume grew 14% year-over-year overall as mobile visits grew 54%. These figures were very similar to the Q4 growth numbers, and this marks the third straight quarter in which traffic driven from organic search went up. This may also be linked to changes that began in mid-2014 that resulted in fewer ad impressions being displayed on Google.


The share of organic visits attributed to mobile devices rose from 34% in Q1 of 2014 to 45% in Q1 of 2015, as Android and iPhone device share of visits increased six and 5.5 points, respectively. iPad share declined about two points, and traffic from mobile devices that were neither iOS nor Android increased to 1.9% of all organic visits from 0.3% last Q1.


Yahoo, the search engine with the highest share of traffic coming from mobile devices for all of 2014, saw the mobile share of its organic visits slip from 49% in Q4 to 43% in Q1, below Google’s figure of 47%. This is likely the result of Yahoo replacing Google as the default search engine on Mozilla Firefox browsers, which moved desktop traffic from Google to Yahoo.


Comparison Shopping Engines

Among major CSEs, Amazon Product Ads provided the highest year-over-year revenue growth for advertisers who have been advertising with the product since at least the beginning of 2014, with an increase in revenue of 74% in Q1. Revenue for Connexity and Nextag advertisers was down nearly 40% year-over-year, as both of these CSEs have more rigid rate card systems which inhibit advertisers from getting as much out of them as those CSEs with more flexible rate card systems.


Amazon Product Ads drove revenue equal to 19% that driven by Google Product Listing Ads for advertisers using both, the same figure as Q4. This represents a large increase from the 7% figure observed last Q1.



Advertisers investing in both search and display through Google continue to allocate most of their spend to text ads and Product Listing Ads, but the share of spend going to the Google Display Network nearly doubled year-over-year, increasing from 6% to 11%.


Ad spend on Facebook, including FBX and native ads, increased 63% year-over-year, an acceleration from the 46% growth observed in Q4. Average CPC was up 21% year-over-year.