Adobe's fourth quarter 2014 Digital Advertising Report shows digital advertising is becoming increasingly efficient — and that smart advertisers understand the nuances of customer behaviors, including the top days of the week for search.

The report analyzed search and social media data and trends around Google, Yahoo/Bing and Facebook. It's based on more than 500 billion Google and Yahoo Bing ad impressions and some 400 billion Facebook post impressions gathered throughout 2014.

The key take-aways:

  • Google Shopping Ads grew dramatically over the holiday season as expected, outperforming text ads eight times over.
  • Digital advertising continues to become more efficient with click-through-rates (CTRs) growth outpacing cost-per-click (CPC) growth.
  • Certain days of the week are better than others for certain ads — for example, Sunday is best for mobile ads, Monday for desktop ads and Friday for Facebook ads.
  • Despite a change in Facebook's algorithm that forced businesses to buy more ads, retailers still turned to Facebook during the holiday season to drive sales.

'Tis The Season

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Retailers made wide use of Facebook post impressions to market to consumers during the holidays. Facebook post impressions were up 64 percent year-over-year (YoY) and 31 percent quarter-over-quarter (QoQ), while paid impressions were up 13 percent YoY and 53 percent QoQ.

While post impressions stayed above water for most of the year (and all of the third and fourth quarters), paid impressions, despite a positive YoY increase and strong QoQ numbers, only exceeded the fourth quarter of 2013 mark in April, November and December.

Facebook's new algorithm caused organic impressions from Facebook posts to drop. Although organic impressions from posts fell 32 percent YoY and text posts fell 60 percent YoY, video posts remained unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2013. Link share and video share of posts went up 68 percent and 52 percent respectively YoY, but image shares went down 15 percent.

As advertisers get used to the new algorithm, it will be interesting to see how these numbers will change in 2015.

Better Engagement


However, consumers engaged more with Facebook posts from retailers. Engagement was up 14 percent over the fourth quarter of 2013, although financial firms and travel remained flat from the previous year. Media and tech suffered in Facebook post interaction, however, suggesting these industries should reconsider how they engage their audiences in 2015. Links improved 36 percent from the previous year, and video also received a slight bump from the fourth quarter of 2013. However, image and text interaction rates remained flat.

The study showed that Friday was Facebook's day in the sun — interaction rates were 15 percent higher, brand post impressions were 18 percent higher, brand posts were 28 percent higher and shares and likes of content happened on Friday more than any other day of the week.

Show Me the Money

Search engine marketing (SEM) grew in 2014. Globally advertisers are allocating 12 percent more money to SEM worldwide, with 5 percent growth in the United States and 17 percent growth in Europe. Great Britain, however, bucked the trend and contracted spending on SEM by 3 percent.


While Google SEM increased a modest 8 percent, Yahoo Bing more than tripled their numbers by gaining a 36 percent increase in SEM spending. Surprisingly, Google SEM spend contracted 3 percent in the United States and 5 percent in Great Britain, while increasing a fifth in Europe.

However, Yahoo Bing SEM spending increased by at least 20 percent in the United States, 49 percent in Europe and 42 percent in Great Britain. Yahoo Bing is continuing to chip away at Google's market share in the United States, where it accounted for 32 percent of SEM ad spending, while in Europe and Great Britain, Google still maintains their 90 percent market share in SEM ad spending.

By industry, SEM ad spending increased 7 percent in retail and also had increases in the automotive industry, while finance stayed flat and travel contracted by 4 percent.

Keep On Moving

Mobile ad clicks were 17 percent higher on Sunday, usually a day when people are out and about. In contrast, Monday was the prime day for desktop ad clicks. Desktop ad clicks were up 9 percent on Monday and down 11 percent on Saturday, a day people are likely to shop at physical locations. Mobile devices played a huge part in click-through rates: a 27 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2013 for tablets and a 26 percent increase in the same period for tablets. Surprisingly, desktop click-through rates increased 18 percent as well.

The study recommended adding links to brand posts because of the algorithm changes in Facebook, and suggested that increased video posts would offset the loss of organic impressions brought about by the same algorithm.

Fridays are seen as “prime time” for Facebook and advertisers should make use of it, while SEM should be focused primarily on Monday (the start of the work week).

The study also noted that shopping ad sharing will initially go down in 2015 but surge in the second half of the year, and that non-retail advertisers will adopt shopping ads and see an increase in visual ads.

SEM click-through rates will increase because of the increased use of mobile devices and a shift in demographics towards younger users. Furthermore Facebook organic impressions will drop 40 percent, but that brand link and video posts will increase to offset it.