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“This year is the year of Mobile!” – That is what all digital advertisers have heard for the past 10 years, but for years it just didn’t happen and then with the invent in smartphones and mobile broadband in the past couple of years, advertisers have actually seen massive growth in Mobile.

But is 2014 the “Year of Mobile?”

At Stellar Search we specialise in running Digital campaigns for retailers, so being the data driven geeks that we are, we wanted to do our own analysis across our portfolio of retail clients to see how the device make up has changed between December 2013 and December 2014 for retailers in the run up to the Christmas period.

As a result we looked at the PPC data that we have for our clients and aggregated it together and saw some interesting insights from the data about how the landscape has changed year on year.


The pie charts below show how the number of impressions (or searches) have changed year on year (YOY) from 2013 to 2014 between the different devices for a selection of retailers:

Google Device Split Impressions 2013 Google Device Split Impressions 2014

This shows that Mobile has grown from 11% of all searches in 2013 to 17% of all searches in 2014 Tablet searches has grown slightly from 18% to 21% with Desktop searches dropping from 71% to 62% of all searches year on year.


We see a similar trend with clicks as we do with impressions in terms of the changes between the devices…

Google Device Split Clicks 2013Google Device Split Clicks 2013

The data shows Mobile clicks growing from 20% of all clicks in 2013 to 28% in 2014. Tablet remains relatively constant with a slight increase from 26% to 27% of clicks where as tablet impressions grew 3% the number of clicks only grew 1%, showing that Click Thru Rate on tablet has actually decreased slightly YOY. Desktop clicks have fallen 9% from 54% or clicks in 2013 to 45% in 2014, which mirrors the 9% drop in impressions YOY.


We would expect to see a % change YOY in spend as we would do in clicks, however, there are some interesting insights when you compare spend from 2013 to 2014…

Google Device Split Spend 2013Google Device Split Spend 2014

The data shows that spend on Tablets has increased 6% from 25% of spend in 2013 to 31% of spend in 2014. This is a greater % increase in spend on Tablet than the increase in the number of clicks…showing that Cost Per Clicks (CPC) on Tablet devices has increased YOY. Mobile spend has increased 5% which is less than the % increase in clicks YOY, showing that CPC’s on Mobile are cheaper than they are on other devices. Desktop spend has decreased from 60% to 49% between 2013 and 2014 a drop of 11% compared to the 9% drop in clicks…again indicating that Desktop CPC’s are higher than they are on Mobile.

The interesting point to note is that for spend and clicks, when you add Tablet and Mobile together they now count for over 50% of clicks and spend in 2014 as opposed to being around 40% of clicks and spend in 2013. However, Desktop still counts for 62% of all impressions in 2014 even if it only makes up less than 50% of clicks and spend.


Having looked at impressions, spend and clicks, we thought it would also be interesting to see how the aggregated CPC’s looked YOY across the different devices…

The bar chart above shows how CPC’s have changed between the different devices YOY (we have normalised the data to account for any increases in spend on more expensive generic terms YOY to get a more accurate picture of CPC changes.) Across all three devices we are seeing an increase in CPCs YOY, with the biggest increase coming on Tablet devices which have increased from £0.20 to £0.33 YOY.



Some of the most interesting insights come when you actually look at where conversions are coming from between the different devices YOY. The pie charts below show the split in % of where conversions are coming from…

Google Device Split Conversions 2014 Google Device Split Conversions 2014

For Tablets, the % of conversions remains the same YOY at 27%, despite the increase in spend, showing that Tablets are becoming more inefficient in terms of cost per conversion due to the increase in CPCs. Desktop is accounting for 57% of all conversions, despite the fact that in terms of clicks, Desktop is accounting for only 45% of all clicks in 2014…showing that in terms of conversion rate Desktop is the best performing of the devices. Mobile conversions have increased 7% YOY in line with the 8% increase in clicks that the data shows.


Based on this data, we can draw the following conclusion in terms of the performance of the different devices for retailers over the Xmas periods of 2013 and 2014.

  • The majority of all impressions are still coming through Desktop
  • Mobile and Tablets are now accounting for over 50% of all clicks and spend
  • Desktop is still counting for 57% of all conversions despite the drop YOY in clicks
  • Tablet volumes have remained relatively stable in terms of clicks and conversions, however, the device has become more expensive due to a higher increase in CPCs than the other devices.
  • Mobile is the growth area YOY with a 7%-8% increase in overall clicks and conversions

 Based on these conclusions we can offer the following insights and recommendations for retailers when they are thinking about their advertising on Google in 2015.

  • Mobile will continue to grow, and if it continues at the current rate we would expect to see Mobile accounting for 23% of all conversions and 36% of all clicks.
  • Tablet to remain constant YOY but and still contribute around 27% of all clicks and conversions.
  • Desktop to continue to fall as Mobile traffic increases so that Desktop will make up approximately 36% of all clicks and around 50% of all conversions. 


To answer the question as to whether 2014 was the year of Mobile?…

Answer: There was definite growth (as expected) in Mobile and whilst Mobile and Tablet have overtaken Desktop in terms of clicks, the majority of conversions are still coming through Desktop. This holds true for the theory of people researching on their Mobile phones to find products, but then actually converting on Desktops. With this in mind, it is important for retailers in 2015 to ensure they have a strong Mobile presence, especially in the early research phase of November prior to the Xmas period and to invest into Mobile at this time. However, they will understand that this investment wont necessarily be seen on Mobile devices and Desktop is still the best performing device in terms of conversions. As a result, whilst Mobile was very strong in 2014, we actually think that the year of Mobile is still to come with 2015 seeing even stronger growth and for the foreseeable years to come.

Brought to you by the Stellar Search team.