Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1151–1165 | Cite as

Mobile searching versus online searching: differential effects of paid search keywords on direct and indirect sales

  • Feng Wang
  • Li ZuoEmail author
  • Zhi Yang
  • Yueyan Wu
Original Empirical Research


Paid search advertising is a critical source of traffic for sellers on e-commerce platforms. As the mobile Internet gains prominence as the main channel for reaching consumers, sellers need to know how to select and bid on keywords in online versus mobile search settings. This study compares the differential effects of paid search keywords in online and mobile settings on both direct and indirect sales, along with the moderating roles of keyword specificity and keyword cost. Two field studies and two lab experiments consistently show that a paid keyword in a mobile setting can prompt higher direct sales than it does in an online setting, but it generates lower indirect sales in general. Moreover, while keyword cost attenuates this positive relationship between mobile searching and direct sales, keyword specificity and keyword cost attenuate this negative relationship between mobile searching and indirect sales. Empirical evidence also reveals the sales and return on investment of paid search keywords in mobile and online settings. This study enriches previous literature by detailing new insights into the distinct settings of mobile and online search advertising.


Mobile Online Paid search advertising Keyword specificity Keyword cost 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71772058, 71573079, and 71402049). The authors greatly appreciate the comments and suggestions provided by the editors, three anonymous reviewers, Murali Mantrala, Mark Houston, Xin Lv, Fengyan Cai, and session participants at 2017 JAMS Thought Leader Conference, 2017 International Forum of Marketing Science & Application, and 2018 Workshop on Big Data and Human Behaviors. Address correspondence to Li Zuo.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business AdministrationHunan UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.School of Economics and ManagementBeijing Jiaotong UniversityBeijingChina

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