Scott_L Mobile is a hot topic at the moment. Search engines, agen­cies and clients are all talk­ing about its rel­a­tive per­for­mance to desk­top, and the grow­ing oppor­tu­nity for adver­tis­ers. This post exam­ines this rel­a­tive per­for­mance across ver­ti­cals (specif­i­cally finance and travel) to under­stand for whom this oppor­tu­nity is great­est, and where first-mover advan­tages still exist.

We have taken mobile data from sev­eral UK accounts in each ver­ti­cal, over the last three months. Brand cam­paigns and Google Dis­play Net­work  cam­paigns have been removed from the equa­tion for clar­ity (vol­umes for these vary by account, skew­ing the stats) and the results have been indexed against desk­top per­for­mance. Here are the results:




As we have seen before, mobile is still small-fry com­pared to fixed-line search, account­ing for approx­i­mately 4% of searches here (although note that as the CTR is higher, mobile accounts for a greater pro­por­tion of traf­fic, at around 6–7%). Both CPCs and con­ver­sion rates are much lower on mobile. (Note: the per­cent­age rates will vary accord­ing to the cam­paign, but what is impor­tant – and con­sis­tent — is the rel­a­tiv­ity between mobile and fixed-line search.)

Finance vs Travel (mobile indexed to fixed line search)


Not sur­pris­ingly, click-through rates from a mobile device are higher for travel brands than for finance.  Travel adver­tis­ers’ CTR on mobile as opposed to fixed line is twice as strong as the CTR of finance adver­tis­ers. This high­lights the greater click-volume oppor­tu­nity for travel adver­tis­ers than for finance com­pa­nies. Another inter­est­ing point is that the CTR for finance com­pa­nies on mobile  is lower than on desk­top. Again, this is most likely because of the nature of the prod­uct, where the appli­ca­tion process is more time-consuming and there are con­cerns over mobile secu­rity. How­ever, this does not nec­es­sar­ily dimin­ish the impor­tance of mobile, since it is fea­si­ble that users per­form a generic search (e.g. for ‘credit cards’) on-the-go, with­out click­ing through, before fol­low­ing up with a brand search on their desktop.

This some­what hid­den brand­ing value is pos­si­bly a fac­tor in the next result – CPCs. Again, since mobile search is gen­er­ally more devel­oped for travel brands, you might expect CPCs to be higher (rel­a­tive to desk­top) than for finance brands. How­ever, the dif­fer­ence is not as sig­nif­i­cant as you might think. This high­lights that com­pe­ti­tion is strong across both ver­ti­cals, as finance PPC cam­paigns chase this ‘brand­ing’ value.

Con­ver­sion rates on mobile are 50 per­cent those of desk­top search for travel com­pa­nies, and 25 per­cent for finance com­pa­nies. Again, this under­lines the oppor­tu­nity that exists for travel brands com­pared to finance.


Travel sites are clearly bet­ter placed to directly ben­e­fit from mobile search, with higher CTR and con­ver­sion rates, and sim­i­lar CPCs to Finance. There is still a ques­tion mark over what effect ‘opti­mis­ing’ a site for mobile cam­paigns has on these num­bers .  Con­ver­sion rates won’t match fixed-line search imme­di­ately, but the poten­tial uplift (espe­cially in travel) is significant.

Finance met­rics are a fair bit behind travel, which is mostly down to issues such as users’ trust of mobile secu­rity, and prac­ti­cal issues of hav­ing to fill out large amounts of data on a mobile screen. But the increas­ing use of mobile search (and the like­li­hood of con­sumers using mobile to research, if not buy, finan­cial prod­ucts) means that there may well be an indi­rect impact on the per­for­mance of branded search on a desk­top, which shouldn’t be ignored.

Scott Laid­law - Asso­ciate Account Man­ager — UK