A European Perspective: Adobe Digital Index Advertising Report

Adobe has just released its Q4 2015 Dig­i­tal Index Adver­tis­ing Report, based on the aggre­gat­ed and anony­mous adver­tis­ing data from Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud, to uncov­er the lat­est indus­try trends from across the globe between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015.

Our Dig­i­tal Index data found that Google’s Paid Search spend grow­ing in North Amer­i­ca dur­ing the last year (4% vs. 3% year on year), where­as the company’s growth in Europe actu­al­ly slowed 33% year on year. Look­ing across all search / social plat­forms, Paid Search spend growth also took a marked down­turn from 17% to 5% year on year. Spend is shift­ing in Europe and adver­tis­ing is matur­ing – but where to? Our analy­sis revealed three key trends that are espe­cial­ly per­ti­nent to adver­tis­ers on this side of the Pond: the bur­geon­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty in audi­ence-based, pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ing (name­ly, Dis­play); the mobile shift (for real this time); and Prod­uct List­ing Ads (PLAs) on both Google and Bing.

Audi­ence-led Advertising

Over the past year, the focus from the advertiser’s side has shift­ed heav­i­ly towards audi­ence-led adver­tis­ing, in con­junc­tion with pro­gram­mat­ic solu­tions, so it’s no sur­prise to see Paid Search growth is slow­ing year over year. Paid ads are final­ly catch­ing up to the per­son­al­i­sa­tion and opti­mi­sa­tion efforts busi­ness­es have been invest­ing in for years. And, now that the tech­nol­o­gy has evolved to increas­ing­ly link up the full cus­tomer jour­ney and deliv­er more rel­e­vant expe­ri­ences, we’re see­ing Search begin to plateau and Dis­play on the rise. The poten­tial for audi­ence-focussed growth in this area is abun­dant, but adver­tis­ers will need to be con­scious of dri­ving val­ue out of this chan­nel, not just engag­ing in band­wag­on spend­ing, which will result in poor ROI.

Mobile Search Spend

Accord­ing to our Dig­i­tal Index report, mobile search spend is now almost equal to mobile brows­ing (37% v 41%). With the increas­ing growth of mobile spend, mar­keters and busi­ness­es are eager­ly attempt­ing to shift their focus to where their cus­tomers are and bet­ter under­stand how to engage with them there suc­cess­ful­ly. Con­sumers are no longer just research­ing on mobile, they’re also con­vert­ing. This has sig­nif­i­cant impli­ca­tions for how brands engage with cus­tomers on mobile — from how they under­stand and craft the cus­tomer jour­ney, to what’s valu­able to track and mea­sure, to what gaps are pri­or­i­ty to close from the tech­ni­cal per­spec­tive. There is plen­ty of room for ongo­ing inno­va­tion in mobile mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy, so we expect to see increas­ing invest­ment in mobile over the next few years.

Prod­uct List­ing Ads (PLAs)

So what’s mak­ing the dif­fer­ence in paid adver­tis­ing on mobile? One key fac­tor is PLAs, the dual work-horse and dar­ling of the Paid Search world. These had a sig­nif­i­cant shift in invest­ment on mobile this past year, espe­cial­ly around the hol­i­day peak. While over­all spend for prod­uct ads from search engines grew 37% year on year, it grew on smart­phones 95%. That’s a sig­nif­i­cant shift in both Paid Search invest­ment, as well as mobile strat­e­gy. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly cru­cial infor­ma­tion for retail­ers as they craft their mobile strate­gies for the New Year; how­ev­er, busi­ness­es in all indus­tries need to be caus­ing the mobile shift – it’s more imper­a­tive now than ever.

A Euro­pean Marketer’s Perspective

From a European’s marketer’s per­spec­tive, the key words for 2016 paid adver­tis­ing are ‘shift’ and ‘strate­gise’. Action more robust cus­tomer jour­neys from click to con­ver­sion on mobile, lever­age audi­ence tar­get­ing and pro­gram­mat­ic through Dis­play, and always keep an eye on ROI. After all, trends are just descrip­tors of the herd unless they’re actioned to deliv­er stand out, tan­gi­ble results for your business.