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:

Travel

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 Finance

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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)

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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.

Conclusion:

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

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