Mobile PPC spend is on the rise and marketers compete for a slice of SERPs on smartphone screens.

Despite the fact that paid ads receive less than 30 percent clicks on search engine results pages, brands continue to invest heavily in PPC tactics. A study from Covario shows that companies in the United States spent 17 more on paid campaigns during Q2 2013 than they did in Q2 2012. While PPC strategies drive immediate results, marketers must remember that high-quality web content is the backbone of their strategies and draws clicks organically in the long term.

A significant portion of this growth is attributed to rising smartphone and tablet adoption rates. Brands spent 132 more year-over-year to get their domains on the Page 1 of search results pages of mobile devices. It makes sense that brands are developing competitive paid mobile campaigns because a small percentage of smartphone SERPs are set aside for organic results.

Brafton recently covered an investigation by the Tutorspree Blog, which audited Google’s web and mobile SERPs. It found that organic listings do not necessarily dominate prime real estate. In fact, only 13 percent of the page was dedicated to natural results in a query for “auto mechanic.” The findings were even more surprising for mobile devices, on which users might not see any organic listings on the first page. A person looking up “Italian food” in New York City has to scroll four pages to view natural results, which are buried beneath paid ads, maps and reviews from Zagat.

Even in mobile where PPC provides exposure on smaller screens, marketers will still find paid strategies are not sustainable practices that drive long-term results. Businesses can use paid campaigns to gain immediate traction around keywords and competitive phrases, but they need great branded content behind paid ads to turn smartphone and tablet traffic into leads and conversions.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.