State of Paid Search: Click Traffic Increased 27% in the Past Year; U.S Search Impressions Up 21%

The Search Agency Report Also Finds Smartphone and Tablets Driving Paid Search and Yahoo!-Bing Network’s Traffic Growth Outperform Google Quarter Over Quarter

LOS ANGELES – The Search Agency, a global online marketing firm and the largest independent U.S. search marketing agency, released its State of Paid Search Report. The report found that across all search engines, click traffic increased by 27 percent year over year, and U.S. impressions have increased by 21 percent. The quarterly report analyzes aggregated client data on paid search marketing trends across search engines, devices, and industries on a year over year (YoY—Q3, 2011 to Q3 2012) and quarter over quarter (QoQ—Q2 2012 to Q3 2012) basis.

“The search industry overall is continuing to thrive. Over the last quarter we’ve seen higher quality traffic on Yahoo!-Bing, driving advertisers to invest more in the growing search engine,” said Keith Wilson, vice president of Agency Products at The Search Agency. “Another area of rapid growth is on tablets and mobile—we expect this growth to continue to pick up pace, especially as we hit the holiday shopping season and new tablets are introduced in to the market.”

Additional findings from The Search Agency’s State of Paid Search Report include:

Yahoo!-Bing Network traffic growth surpasses Google quarter over quarter

Google remains the dominant search engine; however, Yahoo!-Bing outperforms Google QoQ in traffic growth – evidence of growing competition in the search engine marketplace. Yahoo!-Bing’s click traffic increased by 9.6 percent in Q3 2012, while Google’s click traffic only increased by 0.7 percent.

Mobile is driving growth in paid search; tablets are picking up speed

Smartphone click traffic increased by 105 percent YoY, with a 13 percent increase in cost per click (CPC). Tablets traffic has spiked, with click traffic increasing by 339 percent YoY with flat CPCs. Smartphone CPC discounts remain unchanged; in contrast, CPC discounts on tablets more than doubled from 7.6 percent in Q3 2011 to 17 percent in Q3 2012. Additionally, smartphones showed the largest increase in CTR (click through rate) with a 27 percent increase YoY.

Google’s product listing ads showed triple digit growth

Spend on Google’s Product Listings increased by 378 percent QoQ, and share of click traffic increased by 656 percent, indicating steady growth over the quarter. Product listing ads were largely valuable to advertisers this quarter, with QoQ increase in CTR of 25.4 percent and a CPC decline of 36.5 percent.

Consumer goods, consumer services, and media and entertainment industries flocking to mobile and shifting away from computers

In the consumer goods industry, overall clicks were up 9 percent YoY. The share of clicks on smartphones and tablets jumped from 4.9 percent in Q3 2011 to 21.1 percent in Q3 2012 (a 331 percent increase YoY). In consumer services, click traffic on mobile devices increased by 117 percent and CPCs increased by 19.3 percent in Q3 2012. Computer click traffic decreased 30 percent YoY and sustained an 8.8 percent increase in CPCs. In the media and entertainment industry, smartphone and tablet click traffic share increased by 132 percent YoY.

To uncover key trends for the Q3 State of Paid Search Report, The Search Agency extracted client data from search engine advertising tools. The research sample included advertisers who had 15 consecutive months of data with The Search Agency, and had an established and stable business model from Q3 2011 to Q3 2012. All results are based on U.S. campaigns only.

To download the report, go to

About The Search Agency

The Search Agency is a global online marketing firm that combines high-tech and high-touch strategies to help clients engage their customers online and measure ROI beyond a reasonable doubt. With a deep-rooted history in paid search and SEO, The Search Agency understands how activity on the web intersects at search, and executes smart digital marketing strategies that drive measurable results across multiple platforms. Services include Paid Search, SEO, Landing Page Optimization, Display Media, Social Media and Comparison Shopping Management, which are strategically leveraged to maximize the efficacy of clients’ integrated marketing campaigns. The company is one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing search marketing firms – named the largest independent U.S. search marketing agency by Advertising Age and among Deloitte’s 2011 Technology Fast 500™. Founded in 2002, The Search Agency has grown to more than 180 employees worldwide with headquarters in Los Angeles, CA, and additional offices in San Francisco, East Greenwich, Baltimore, Tampa, London, Sydney, Toronto and Bangalore. For more information, go to