Check Them Out: Google Search Ad Mobile Benchmarks

August 29, 2018

Mobile devices are estimated to account for 60% of paid search clicks in the US, with smartphones alone representing at least half. Mobile devices’ share of clicks is particularly influential on Google, so what kind of performance can advertisers expect from their efforts? WordStream dove into its data to provide some benchmarks.


To arrive at these conclusions, WordStream pored through data from a sample of 20,297 US-based WordStream client accounts across several verticals, together representing more than $139 million in aggregate Google Ads spend. These client accounts were all advertising on Google’s Search and Display networks during the 2017 calendar year, and each vertical represented below includes at least 35 unique active clients. (Averages are median rather than mean values.)

The following analysis is limited to the Search network. Readers who would like to see comparable benchmarks for the Display network can visit WordStream’s analysis here.

Click-Through Rate

The median click-through rate (CTR) in Google Ads across industries is 4.10% on the Search network, according to WordStream’s analysis, which is specific to mobile ads.

Advertisers in the Travel & Hospitality (5.36%) and Arts & Entertainment (5.01%) verticals enjoy the highest median CTR, while other verticals with above-average CTRs include Hair Salons (5%), Finance (4.57%) and Education (4.45%).

By comparison, the Internet & Telecom category has the lowest median CTR (3.05%), followed by Law/Legal (3.48%) and Home & Garden (3.5%).

WordStream notes that when factoring desktop into the equation, the median CTR drops to 3.17%, indicating that mobile click-through rates tend to be higher than comparable desktop rates.


The median cost-per-click (CPC) for WordStream client accounts advertising in Google Ads on mobile is $2.67 on the Search network, per the analysis.

The Law/Legal vertical, with its low median CTR, has the highest median cost-per-click (CPC) of $4.85, more than a dollar higher than the next-highest average. (Legal also led the way the last time this analysis was conducted – across mobile and desktop – in 2016.) As it happens, an earlier analysis from WordStream revealed that “Lawyer” was the 4th-most expensive keyword in Google AdWords advertising in 2017, carrying a hefty CPC of $54.86.

Returning to this latest research, other verticals with high median CPCs include Automotive Service & Repair ($3.67) and Construction ($3.66).

Arts & Entertainment advertisers, with their high CTRs, enjoy the lowest CPC – of $1.01. Computers & Electronics ($1.89), Travel & Hospitality ($1.89), NonProfits ($1.90) and Manufacturing ($1.92) are also on the lower end of the spectrum, the only others to have a median average under $2.

Notably, when including desktop into the equation, CPCs averaged $2.69, suggesting that there isn’t much of a difference between mobile and desktop CPCs.

Conversion Rate

The median conversion rate across industries for mobile advertisers on the Google Search network last year was 3.48%.

Well, legal advertisers may face high costs, but they also enjoy very strong conversion rates. Indeed, the Law/Legal vertical had a median conversion rate of 6.95%, which is close to twice the overall average.

The next-highest? Those Hair Salons, with a median of 5.95%. These businesses may be benefiting from proximity, as past research has shown local searches to result in high conversion rates.

Meanwhile, the Computers & Electronics (1.92%) vertical lagged with the worst conversion rate, and Consulting (2.04%) didn’t fare too much better.

Interestingly, factoring desktop into the analysis results in a higher median conversion rate across industries, which indicates that mobile conversion rates may still trail their desktop counterparts.


Finally, the average Cost per Action (CPA) for the sample of mobile advertisers analyzed was $80.89 across industries on the Search network.

The verticals with the highest average CPAs were:

  • Internet & Telecom ($140.40);
  • Business Services ($125.60);
  • Consulting ($117.75);
  • Education ($108.60); and
  • Home & Garden ($105.99).

Who enjoyed the lowest CPS? Hair Salons, at an average of $19.35. Close behind was the Arts & Entertainment vertical, with a low average of $22.96. No other category averaged a CPA lower than $50.

A final note: with desktop included, CPA plummeted to $48.96 on average across industries. As a result, it appears that CPAs are much higher on mobile devices than on desktops.

For more analyses and takeaways, visit WordStream’s findings here.

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