How did marketers fare in the search marketing waters of Q4 2014? Paid search is a mature space and its waves are less tumultuous than other channels, such as social. Even still, seasonality and changing industry tides mean that even experienced paid search marketers must be constantly seeking opportunities to expand, innovate, and optimize their programs to continue to drive efficiency and extract maximum value.

In Q4 2014, global search marketers invested 14% more in the channel than the same quarter of the previous year, most likely propelled by retailers at the helm during the peak end-of-the-year shopping season. Revenue charted course very closely to spend growth, seeing a 12% boost YoY, and overall, marketers saw a strong $6.08 return in Q4.


Campaigns remained efficient as click volume continues to grow at lowered impression levels, with click-through rate cresting at a 5-quarter high at 2.4%. These dynamics demonstrate that matching algorithms are improving, marketers are growing more sophisticated with optimization, and ultimately, consumers are actively engaging with the channel.


If we dive a bit deeper, we can see the nuances of metrics at a regional level and the growing influence and impact of mobile.

In the Americas, revenue grew faster than spend in Q4, producing higher return for the investments made. Looking at mobile in the region, desktop carries a premium over mobile devices when it comes to CPC rates, and at a country-level, the U.S. sees the highest overall CPC, when compared to both Brazil and Canada.


Across EMEA, paid search impression volume may have dropped, but efficiency is on the rise as marketers are deploying more strategic campaign optimization, resulting in clicks far outpacing impressions. Furthermore, CTR rose 31% YoY, clocking in at 2.5% in Q4, while CPCs have fallen. This all adds up to fewer impressions being needed to hit desired outcomes.


If we sail into APJ, we can see paid search metrics stabilizing and mobile consumption growing. APJ leads the mobile pack among the regions, with the highest share of both spend and clicks, signaling device strength in the region.


Overall, the search waters have remained calm, but the ebbs and flows of the market mean advertisers must be agile and ready to re-calibrate if needed.

While you can’t control the wind and waves, you can certainly adjust your sails and the tools you have at your fingertips to set course to maximize your programs.

Click here to view the Global Search + Social Snapshot and download the regional search data here.