A European Perspective: Adobe Digital Index Advertising Report

Adobe has just released its Q4 2015 Digital Index Advertising Report, based on the aggregated and anonymous advertising data from Adobe Marketing Cloud, to uncover the latest industry trends from across the globe between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015.

Our Digital Index data found that Google’s Paid Search spend growing in North America during the last year (4% vs. 3% year on year), whereas the company’s growth in Europe actually slowed 33% year on year. Looking across all search / social platforms, Paid Search spend growth also took a marked downturn from 17% to 5% year on year. Spend is shifting in Europe and advertising is maturing – but where to? Our analysis revealed three key trends that are especially pertinent to advertisers on this side of the Pond: the burgeoning opportunity in audience-based, programmatic advertising (namely, Display); the mobile shift (for real this time); and Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on both Google and Bing.

Audience-led Advertising

Over the past year, the focus from the advertiser’s side has shifted heavily towards audience-led advertising, in conjunction with programmatic solutions, so it’s no surprise to see Paid Search growth is slowing year over year. Paid ads are finally catching up to the personalisation and optimisation efforts businesses have been investing in for years. And, now that the technology has evolved to increasingly link up the full customer journey and deliver more relevant experiences, we’re seeing Search begin to plateau and Display on the rise. The potential for audience-focussed growth in this area is abundant, but advertisers will need to be conscious of driving value out of this channel, not just engaging in bandwagon spending, which will result in poor ROI.

Mobile Search Spend

According to our Digital Index report, mobile search spend is now almost equal to mobile browsing (37% v 41%). With the increasing growth of mobile spend, marketers and businesses are eagerly attempting to shift their focus to where their customers are and better understand how to engage with them there successfully. Consumers are no longer just researching on mobile, they’re also converting. This has significant implications for how brands engage with customers on mobile – from how they understand and craft the customer journey, to what’s valuable to track and measure, to what gaps are priority to close from the technical perspective. There is plenty of room for ongoing innovation in mobile marketing technology, so we expect to see increasing investment in mobile over the next few years.

Product Listing Ads (PLAs)

So what’s making the difference in paid advertising on mobile? One key factor is PLAs, the dual work-horse and darling of the Paid Search world. These had a significant shift in investment on mobile this past year, especially around the holiday peak. While overall spend for product ads from search engines grew 37% year on year, it grew on smartphones 95%. That’s a significant shift in both Paid Search investment, as well as mobile strategy. This is particularly crucial information for retailers as they craft their mobile strategies for the New Year; however, businesses in all industries need to be causing the mobile shift – it’s more imperative now than ever.

A European Marketer’s Perspective

From a European’s marketer’s perspective, the key words for 2016 paid advertising are ‘shift’ and ‘strategise’. Action more robust customer journeys from click to conversion on mobile, leverage audience targeting and programmatic through Display, and always keep an eye on ROI. After all, trends are just descriptors of the herd unless they’re actioned to deliver stand out, tangible results for your business.

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