SAN FRANCISCO — For more than a decade, Google’s search ad business has seemed almost magical in its ability to mint money.
But the magic is beginning to wear off, as changing digital behavior on mobile phones and even on desktops threatens Google’s main business.
The company pleased analysts and shareholders when it announced better-than-expected third-quarter financial results Thursday. Still, the report revealed that, as its desktop search business matures, the price that advertisers pay when they click on ads has continued to fall.
Google’s core business, selling ads on Google.com and other sites its owns, jumped 22 percent year over year. It is a notable rate after four quarters of sub-20 percent growth. And the price that advertisers pay each time someone clicks on an ad decreased for the eighth quarter in a row, according to data from BGC Partners. It fell 8 percent from the same period last year, largely because mobile ads cost less than desktop ones.
Google reported third-quarter revenue of $14.89 billion, up 12 percent from a year ago.
The results exceeded the expectations of analysts, who had predicted revenue of $14.82 billion and earnings, excluding the cost of stock options, of $10.35 a share.