The first quarter of 2015 was a strong one for the US paid search market. Year-over-year growth of 26 percent marks the highest increase in three years and the third-highest rate since advertising technology firm IgnitionOne began recording performance.
Bing Ads continued its growth streak among advertisers on the IgnitionOne platform. Advertising spend share on Bing Ads rose to 26.9 percent compared to Google’s 73.1 percent share. (More on that below.)
IgnitionOne cites the improving US economy and rising cost-per-click (CPCs) in mobile for the strong growth seen in the past two quarters. Spending on smartphones rose 81 percent from Q1 2014.
Overall, CPCs rose 21 percent year-over-year, with Google CPCs up 23 percent and Bing Ads up 15 percent. IgnitionOne adds that Google’s change to require “close variant matching” last September (exact and phrase match keywords can trigger ads for close variants and plurals and misspellings of these keywords) also led to higher CPCs.
Quarter-over-quarter, ad spend rose 10 percent and CPCs were up 21 percent even after coming off a strong holiday season.
Impressions Fall As More Advertisers Back Out Of Google Partner Network
Overall impressions were down 20 percent for the quarter, the result, again, of more of IgnitionOne’s customers pulling out of the Google Partner Network. Impressions from the search partner network were off by 46 percent, clicks were down 25 percent and ad spend fell by 11 percent.
In contrast, participation on the Yahoo Bing Partner Network has been increasing. Impressions rose 46 percent and spend was up 30 percent year-over-year on the partner network. IgnitionOne notes that the flexibility in being able to exclude poor performing partner sites on the Yahoo Bing Partner Network — unlike Google, which is an all or nothing opt-in — allows for greater efficiencies.
Bing Ads Gains Share, Slowly
The numbers aren’t earth shattering, but the three-consecutive quarters of growth in market share by Bing Ads is notable.
Q1 marks the highest spend share Bing Ads has seen since the Yahoo Bing Network formed in 2010 and the lowest share for Google since 2008 among IgnitionOne customers.
The full report, which also includes display results, is available for download here.