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Google Q1 performance report: device distribution, efficiency offsets flat desktop

Published: April 24, 2015

Author: Bob Sturges

In advance of Google’s Q1 earnings call, we compared Q1 2014 to Q1 2015 data in both Google search and display campaigns from a representative selection of our accounts. Our results show that as Google’s former bread and butter – desktop search – has flattened out, diversification of devices and improved efficiency of display campaigns are helping maintain revenue growth.

The data is as follows (with comparison %s showing the differences between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015):

Google Search:

Computer (778,720,676 impressions)
– CPC: 1%
– CTR: 15%
Mobile (393,221,712 impressions)
– CPC: 30%
– CTR: -8%
– CVR: 44%
Tablet (183,690,903 impressions)
– CPC: 20%
– CTR: 28%

The major device trend that we’ve noted for several quarters continues: Google search is seeing significant CPC growth in mobile and tablet. Advertisers are more likely to want to compete, users are increasingly using their mobile devices for what was once traditionally the realm of desktop applications, and improving conversion rates enable more aggressive bids.
On the mobile side, 3Q clients saw a whopping 44% increase in conversion rate, which more than made up for the increases we saw in CPCs and encouraged increased levels of spend.On the desktop side, we did see a fairly substantial bump in click-through-rates, with cost per click staying flat.  This could be attributed to Google’s ever-changing SERP landscape. Between callout extensions, changes to the way ads are displayed, and more minor changes such as testing the way headlines are displayed, we were bound to see positive impacts on CTR.

Google Display:

Computer (2,778,144,634 impressions)
– CPC: -17%
– CTR: 26%
Mobile (724,064,440 impressions)
– CPC: 2%
– CTR: 16%
Tablet (619,496,362 impressions)
– CPC: -13%
– CTR: 6%
We saw gains across all devices in CTR, which isn’t too shocking as Google’s algorithms become increasingly refined.  Additionally, we actually saw CPCs drop in 2 out of the 3 device categories.  There are numerous possible reasons for this, but one cause could be 3Q’s increased adoption of Conversion Optimizer, which better leverages predictive data to reach advertising goals.

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