SAN DIEGO: Brand owners spent significantly more on paid search advertising during the fourth quarter of last year than the equivalent period in 2011, global analysis from Covario has shown.

The search marketing agency said that overall spend across the industry on pay-per-click advertising was 15% higher year-on-year during October-December 2012. Overall annual search expenditures for last year were 18% higher than in 2011.

Covario derived its results from analysis of its clients in the retail, business tech and consumer electronics categories. The report therefore does not cover the whole of the search ad market.

Region by region, search ad spending patterns broadly tracked macroeconomic trends. Covario said that Europe, whose economy was hit hard by the ongoing Eurozone crisis in 2012, grew search spend by 10% year-on-year during the fourth quarter.

But the Americas, which enjoyed stronger economic growth last year, recorded a rise of 21%, while Asia-Pacific grew 13%.

By platform, mobile search spend registered a particularly impressive annual increase, up 30% from the fourth quarter of 2011. Moreover, mobile devices attracted higher ad prices than desktops and laptops, with costs per click found to be higher for tablets than PCs for the second quarter running during October-December 2012.

Google also retained its stranglehold on the global search market, taking an 86% share of adspend during the three-month period.

Alex Funk, Covario's director of performance media, said: "The year-over-year balance in impressions, clicks, and costs demonstrates growth in the search universe in conjunction with a small increase in... CPCs."

Covario also released search adspend forecasts for 2013, suggesting that Europe will grow by a further 10% across the year, with the Americas growing at 18-20% and Asia-Pacific up 30-40%.

Data sourced from Covario; additional content by Warc staff