Digital Marketing Insights, Q4 Growth & Mobile Trends From RKG

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Valuable digital marketing insights and benchmarks from the fourth quarter of 2011. The report features findings and data points from Paid Search, SEO, Social Media and more.

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“Our goal with this report is to capture and offer insights on industry trends large and small so that marketers have a credible benchmark with which to compare their performance and take advantage of business opportunities.”

RKG, thought leaders in unlocking the digital marketing mojo from paid (PPC) and organic search (SEO) analysis, announces quarterly performance data. The report takes the data overwhelm out of mountains of metrics, details the favorable results for RKG clients and provides key insights to help marketers gauge performance and understand the current conditions in online marketing.

Senior Analyst Mark Ballard remarks, “Our goal with this report is to capture and offer insights on industry trends large and small so that marketers have a credible benchmark with which to compare their performance and take advantage of business opportunities.” He continues, "Historically, our approach has tracked well with the numbers the big players report and, if that connection holds, online growth in the fourth quarter of 2011 was the strongest of the year. Google reaped most of those gains, while Bing and Yahoo struggled to make any significant headway in either paid or organic search."

Highlights from Search:
In the paid search arena, RKG clients enjoyed click-through rates (CTR) that absolutely soared. A 32.8% increase for Q4 and 25.9% Y/Y puts CTR in the driver's seat for most of the traffic gains for the quarter. Additionally, paid search ad spend increased 31.0% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2011, while ad clicks increased 32.8%. Because conversion and revenue growth is keeping pace with these figures, advertisers will want to plan budgeting flexibility to spend as long as there is profitable opportunity.

From the SEO perspective, 2011 marked significant and permanent change starting with Google’s Panda algorithm, followed by the announcement that query data for logged in users would no longer be provided –representing 8.5% of all queries in Q4, and marking the emergence of Social as a ranking factor. Departures from status quo aside, the overall quality for the organic search results has arguably increased. For RKG clients organic search generated 36.4% of all site visits in Q4 - Referrals 20.6%

Highlights from Mobile
Favorable trends in mobile traffic share (over 14% of PPC clicks came from smartphone or tablet devices) indicate that the question has changed from, “should we invest” to “how much should we invest” in mobile or tablet versions of our website? While mobile conversions are still lagging behind desktop, mobile search seems to have reached a turning point with huge surges of mobile traffic occurring around important dates. For RKG clients, smart phones generated 6.6% of paid search clicks for RKG clients, while tablets generated 7.6% in Q4. For SEO clients, the two platforms combined generated 9.6% of visits

For the higher converting tablets, the current race saw Amazon’s Kindle Fire move into the top challenger position with a distant 4.1% traffic share as compared to iPad’s 87.8%.

Highlights from the Engines
Google’s exceptional growth rates brought it significant gains in both ad spend and click share. The company’s share of PPC spend rose from 83.0% in Q4 2010 to 87.8% while click share rose from 78.7% to 86.5% for RKG clients.

Another big trend in 2011, one that was largely overlooked, was the growth of Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) format. PLAs migrated to AdWords and shifted to a CPC model in the Fall of 2010 and Google has increasingly displayed them in place of standard text ads. For a number of our advertisers, PLAs contributed a larger portion of spend and revenues in Q4 than Bing and Yahoo combined.

While we await Google’s official word on Q4 2011, marketers can certainly celebrate the steady year-over-year growth trends that culminated in Q4. Meanwhile, get all the details on display, social and comparison shopping engine's from RKG’s data driven marketing team in the full 2011 Q4 report.

About RKG
RKG is a full-service digital marketing agency that combines superior marketing talent with leading edge technology to create the industry’s most effective data-driven online marketing solutions. Founded in 2003, RKG specializes in working with clients in retail, travel, financial and B2B organizations ranging in size from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. RKG is privately held and headquartered in Charlottesville, VA.

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Ryan Gibson
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