Advertisers around the world are spending more than one-fifth of their ad dollars on search ads with the search advertising market set to reach $100.5 billion in 2018 – a rise of 11% year-on-year.

According to WARC’s Global Ad Trends Report, which examined search ad spend trends across 12 markets across APAC, EMEA and the Americas, the US search market share is expected to reach 22% in 2018, while shares in China and the UK are expected to hit 26% and 30% respectively.

Meanwhile, mobile search is expected to account for $62.7 billion (62%) of total search ad spend in the market; with share of total search ad spend almost doubling since 2015.

“In its function as a pull medium, search has done more than replace classified – it is steadily eating into the share of advertising expenditure going to display,” said James McDonald, data editor, WARC.

Google’s dominance

Four of the largest providers of search – Google, Baidu, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing – made a combined amount of $101 billion from paid search in 2017, with $10.5 billion coming from outside of the 12 key markets analysed in the study.

However, it is Google that continues to be the prominent provider in the sector, drawing an estimated $85.8 billion last year while the search tech company owns 89.3% share of the mobile search market.

In addition, the report found that click through and conversion rates for search ads outperformed display ads, with search ads recording a click-through rate of 3.3% compared to only 0.57% for online display.

Conversion rates for search ads were 4.32% on average compared to 1.09% generated from display ads.

Lastly, among people using voice tech or assistant at least once per week, the majority use it for search-related activities, including online search (60%), finding information on a product (53%), asking questions (50%), seeking directions (42%) and finding information on a brand or company (41%).

“Emerging formats such as mobile voice and image look likely to continue this trend,” McDonald added; “This may be a sign that brands are shifting budget; though it more likely reflects a multitude of SME advertisers who have started spending due to the accessibility of the format.”