After rising 11% Q/Q and 3.9% Y/Y in Q2, Baidu's (BIDU) revenue per online ad customer surged 18.6% Q/Q and 19.4% Y/Y in Q3 to $3,121. Q/Q drops in Q1 and Q4 '12 had stoked concerns competition (particularly from Qihoo) and mobile were impacting ad spend.
On the other hand, Baidu's active customer accounts fell 0.9% Q/Q to 464K, albeit while remaining up 19% Y/Y. Active accounts rose 14.1% Q/Q and 33% Y/Y in Q2.
Traffic acquisition costs amounted to 11.7% of revenue, up slightly from Q2's 11.6% and more sharply from 8.6% a year ago. Baidu once more attributes its TAC growth to a mix shift towards contextual (ad network) ads and promotions for its hao123 directory site.
While revenue rose 42% Y/Y, SG&A spend soared 115% to $226.2M, something Baidu largely attributes to mobile promotions. R&D spend rose 77.5% to $178.2M. Content spend (largely online video-related) made up 2.5% of revenue, up from 2% in Q2 and just 0.5% a year ago.
Baidu says mobile search revenue "continued to grow at an exciting pace," but doesn't provide any numbers. The company stated in July mobile had grown to account for over 10% of revenue.
Shares +5.4% AH. Q3 results/Q4guidance, PR.