The paid search trend of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) for the first quarter is healthy, according to the analysts at JP Morgan Equity Research together with Eric Papczun, president of Performics in the U.S. and Mark Ballard, senior research analyst at RKG.
JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth and his colleagues, said that their counterparts from Performics and RKG believed that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s paid search growth level will remain stable until the fourth quarter despite some softness last March.
Anmuth emphasized that their primary focus is the Enhanced Campaigns of the search engine giant. According to them, the performance of Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Bing improved but neither is pushing advertisers to adopt the Enhanced campaigns quickly.
The companies believe that Enhanced Campaigns reduces the control of marketers and it would lead to price increases. The analyst believed that Enhanced Campaigns will provide positive impact to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) since the company will launch its full implementation in June.
Based on the analysis of Performics, search spending in the United States increased by 12.4 percent Y/Y in the first quarter of 2013 (Paid Clicks + 10.1 percent, CPC + 2.1 percent). The firm expects ~15 percent Y/Y search spend increases in 2013,whereas RKG see 24 percent Y/Y growth.
RKG is heavily exposed to retail and noted that paid clicks moderated a bit while CPCs increased slightly compared in the 4Q 2012, which was driven partly by easier comps and search improvements at Bing and Yahoo. RKG expects 15 percent to 20 percent search spend increases Y/Y.
JP Morgan analysts are confident that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) would achieve their 1Q core revenue estimate for the company of -1.1 percent Q/Q, including 1.2 percent Q/Q net advertising growth driven by +22 percent Y/Y paid clicks growth and -2 percent Y/Y CPC decline.
Performics said clicks from mobile devices were 36 percent while RKG estimated 25 percent. The analysts believed that the change in the terms and conditions of Google’s tool bar could lead to some shift in competing services such as Yahoo and IAC, but it is not a major driver since it only accounts 1 percent to 2 percent of the search volume.
In their note to investors, JP Morgan analysts wrote, “Overall, we continue to believe that Google fundamentals are strong. Paid clicks and CPCs continue to diverge as expected, but most importantly organic gross revenue growth remains in the mid 20 percent range. Core search growth remains solid and Google is now getting significant lift from display and mobile, which combine for more than 20 percent of gross revenue…”
The analysts maintained their $860 price target and overweight rating for of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s share price.