Desktop search spending to fall this year as mobile grows, study finds

Google plays a critical role in the trends, eMarketer said

The money spent by advertisers on the desktop will decline this year as people continue to reach for their smartphones to search for information, according to new data from eMarketer.

In the U.S., desktop search spending will drop by $1.4 billion in 2014, a decrease of more than 9 percent from last year, while mobile search will increase by more than 82 percent, the market research company said in a report published Thursday.

The figures show that desktop search advertising is still a more lucrative business than mobile search ads, but mobile devices are helping to upend those trends. Mobile search will total roughly $9 billion this year, compared with more than $13 billion for desktop search.

Overall, desktop advertising spending will decline by roughly 2 percent in 2014 to approximately $32 billion, eMarketer said. Just last year, desktop ads grew by roughly 2 percent.

The shift, eMarketer said, can be largely attributed to Google, the dominant player in search. Last year roughly three-quarters of the company's search revenue came from the desktop, but that will fall to about 66 percent this year as paid clicks on Google shift toward mobile devices, eMarketer said.

Google has over the past year released new advertising tools designed to help advertisers maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns across platforms. The company's Enhanced Campaigns program lets marketers manage their ads in a single campaign on desktop and mobile. And, in a nod to mobile, the program allows marketers to tie bidding on those ads to people's geographic location.

Google faces challenges, however, in keeping its users engaged on mobile devices, where consumers tend to jump between different apps, which sometimes offer their own search tools. Still, eMarketer said mobile search revenues will comprise a larger slice of the company's total search revenues in 2014.

More broadly, consumers appear to be migrating to mobile devices faster than advertisers can keep up. Nonvoice mobile activities accounted for roughly 20 percent of adults' average time spent with media last year, while less than 6 percent of total media ad spending was on mobile, eMarketer said. That means there's significant room for advertisers to play catch up.

eMarketer's data also pertained to ads such as sponsored posts on Facebook and promoted tweets in Twitter, the company said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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