Today, we release our highly antic­i­pated quar­terly State of Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Report for Q4 2011, now in part­ner­ship with Con­text Optional. These joint reports – with Effi­cient Frontier’s robust data in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try and valu­able insights from the Con­text Optional cus­tomer index – have been an incred­i­ble resource for cur­rent indus­try trends and future out­looks. This quar­ter, we saw some inter­est­ing and some expected trends. Search spend sig­nif­i­cantly increased, par­tic­u­larly among retail­ers, with the hol­i­day sea­son dom­i­nat­ing the quar­ter. In social, Face­book spend share reached 2.7% of bid­d­a­ble online adver­tis­ing spend in Q4. Increases in social spend are com­ing from new ad bud­gets rather than sub­tract­ing from exist­ing search or dis­play bud­gets, demon­strat­ing the growth and impor­tance to dig­i­tal mar­keters of search, dis­play and social through­out 2011. Brands con­tin­ued to acquire fans at a 9% rate per month.

Other key high­lights in the Q4 report:

SEARCH SPEND increases 14% YoY in the United States and 19% YoY in the UK as retail­ers spent aggres­sively in Q4. US spend in retail grew by 18% YoY and 40% QoQ and UK retail spend grew by 10% YoY. This indi­cates a con­sis­tent sea­sonal ramp up in Q4 and resulted in a strong fourth quar­ter over­all. Retail ROI YoY remained steady.

GOOGLE MAINTAINS 80% SPEND SHARE in Q4. Yahoo/Bing clicks yielded 14% more rev­enue per click (RPC) than Google while also hav­ing 9% more Return on Invest­ment (ROI) than Google. Yet, Google increased click share by 2.5% YoY indi­cat­ing the neces­sity for vol­ume and reach from adver­tis­ers, pri­mar­ily retail­ers, in Q4.

MOBILE SPEND specif­i­cally tablets, is becom­ing increas­ingly impor­tant for mar­keters as tablets accounted for 50% of mobile search spend and 50% of click share.

GOOGLE assumed 96% of mobile search ads. Yahoo/Bing accounted for just 4% of mobile ads.

DISPLAY SPEND remained flat QoQ. How­ever, Google’s Dou­bleclick increased exchange dis­play mar­ket share by 19% YoY. Due to both inven­tory con­straints and shift­ing strate­gies by Yahoo for their Right Media Exchange, Google extended sig­nif­i­cant share gains in bid­d­a­ble display.

EUROPEAN MARKETS showed strong growth in search spend YoY. France increased search spend 70% YoY and Ger­many 47% YoY indi­cat­ing heav­ier invest­ments into online adver­tis­ing in 2011. The UK lead the online mar­ket­ing indus­try in Europe and con­tin­ued to increase search spend 19% YoY.

To get the full story, down­load our State of Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Report for Q4 2011.

- Sid­dharth Shah
Senior Direc­tor, Busi­ness Ana­lyt­ics, Effi­cient Frontier