Who’s Winning the iPhone 6 PPC Race?

Lorna Rose Gill Posted by Lorna Rose Gill

The iPhone 6 will be the biggest smartphone launch of the year, but which companies are using PPC to boost their presence ahead of the announcement?

It’s been an intense six months of rumours, heated debates, features and specs shrouded in mystery. We’re referring, of course, to Apple’s launch of the iPhone 6, which rumours say, will be in September.

Let’s take a look at the search trends and see who’s been spending cash to capture a segment of the iPhone 6’s market share.

First things first, let’s give the story some context. Starting at the end of October last year, the rumours about iPhone 6 spread across the web. As the release closes in, the search queries for the release date, price, features, pictures and videos has grown.

In fact, all that ardent fans and early adopters are interested in, according to Adthena, is the release date. The trend generator shows that the searches for the keywords “iphone 6 features”, “iphone 6 specs”, and “iphone 6 photos” haven’t been searched for often enough to appear on the chart, when compared with ‘iphone 6 release date”.


But it’s not just organic search that has exploded: it seems retailers, networks and even competitors are swooping in to take some of the marketshare and get their presence known as the place to buy Apple’s new iDevice.

Since October last year, the PPC race has gradually attracted eight major runners: Amazon UK, O2, Samsung, Carphone Warehouse, Bidwiz, CompareUK, MacBooty and Phones Ltd.

Amazon and Carphone Warehouse were the first to jump in for the competition. They started to bid on the iPhone 6 keyword straight after the iPhone 5S went on sale in October, with the top ranking advertiser advert frequency until O2 and Samsung stepped in together in December.

Samsung shot straight up to overtake previous leader Carphone Warehouse until May and then it would seem the company cut back on its spending and dropped down again.


Samsung’s hijacking of the keyword term ‘iPhone 6’ is also very visible in Adthena’s share of voice data.


Samsung also looks to be bidding on this term, with 20% share of voice over the last six months. As Apple’s biggest competitor in terms of marketshare, Samsung may be trying to divert potential customers away from buying the iPhone 6 by bidding on words around it.

In July, Samsung’s share spiked to 100%, completely wiping out Carphone Warehouse.

Samsung is no stranger to trying to drown Apple’s success and has been known to buy site takeovers on the day previous iPhones have been launched, particularly around the launch of the iPhone 4. Could the company using the paid search tactic this time around?

Early Players

Although treading into a somewhat grey area bidding on its competitor’s trademark terms, Samsung obviously expects a higher click-through rate via traditionally cheap high-quality traffic. Will this help the company get more exposure for its brand, or is it risking a lawsuit?

CompareUK invested in paid search for about three months in Q1 but gave up at end of March. More interested in direct sales rather than in opening up future possibilities, it seems as though the company has decided to place its focus elsewhere–whether that’s alternative keywords around the product or an alternative product entirely.

Q3 Battle

In early June, O2 entered the race in full force. Seeing very little competition on the part of Carphone Warehouse, Samsung and Amazon, the network managed to achieve a top share of voice of 50% and dominated over its competitors during the next two months.

The competition entered its final phase at the end of July when new players came into the fold. Amazon, Carphone Warehouse and Samsung resumed their campaigns, while Bidwiz and O2 were just warming up.

In early August the share of voice split between six major competitors with a notable supremacy of Carphone Warehouse, Bidwiz and O2, who seem to be the most absorbed in winning potential customers at this stage.

Amazon’s budget gradually decreased over time, with a slight but important increase in early August.

Who Has the Upper Hand?

While more and more new specs are leaking online, the official release date of the new smartphone (and possibly a phablet according to the rumours) is still unknown. Recode, popular for its accurate forecasts about Apple’s events, reports that the launch is planned for September 9th.

This gives the major competitors less than a fortnight to brace up for the release and make the most of the iPhone 6 frenzy.

If the ‘big’ media event does take place in early September, O2, Amazon and Carphone Warehouse seem to be the most prepared to win the race.

Judging by its persistence to invest in paid search traffic, its ability to achieve high share of voice and advert frequency soaring over 60%, Carphone Warehouse demonstrates intelligent spending–a good sign for a successful campaign.

With its persistence, combined with a loyal client base and competitive terms of delivery, Amazon can defeat the rest of the players soundly.

Lesser-known retailers Macbooty and Phones Ltd. have very little chance of success in this race, with their investment verging on non-existent until now, unless they are deciding to focus on less competitive and hence less expensive keywords.

Samsung is driven by a different agenda, and it’s interesting to see where it will take them by the time of the launch and in the following months.

Who do you think will take the lead on iPhone 6 launch day and more importantly, in the weeks following the device’s release?

(Main image: Blake Patterson/Flickr)

About the author

Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies. She is curious and passionate and likes to find stories in data and technology.