Even though mobile search has gained a lot of steam in recent years, paid mobile search advertising hasn’t followed in its footsteps like many had hoped. A new study by RBC Capital Markets suggests that mobile searches represent 8% to 10% of overall search queries in 2010 but less than 2% of paid search spend.
RBC remains optimistic, however, and is expecting that gap to close in the next few years as the proportion of sponsored listings in mobile search increases, keyword pricing rises and Web-friendly smartphones proliferate. As it stands now, the frequency of ads in mobile search result pages trails that on the PC by a wide margin — one ad compared to nine per page on the desktop to be exact.
Even so, RBC suggests that with mobile devices set to outnumber PCs five to one worldwide in the near future, combined with the ability to target ads based on location, it should lead to a much higher return on investment for advertisers, and subsequently boost paid search ads overall.
Interestingly, when it comes to specific mobile devices, the BlackBerry had the fewest ads per search, with less than 10% of queries showing sponsored results. By contrast, 64% of queries on the iPhone and Google’s Nexus One smartphone had sponsored listings, but still well below the 91% on the PC.