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What Average CPC Tells Us About Retail Ad Performance on Google, Facebook, and Amazon in 2020

Retail marketers will all agree: facing less competition while engaging more shoppers is an ideal scenario. That was the incredibly unique situation many retail marketers faced at the start of the pandemic in 2020, according to cost-per-click (CPC) trends my company, Sidecar, culled from Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon.com.

CPCs hit their lowest point in 2020 during the first months of the pandemic.

After the pandemic hit, demand from online shoppers peaked. At the same time, many retail advertisers reduced ad spend because of issues with supply or due to economic uncertainty. That led to a flood of highly motivated shoppers engaging with retailers’ ads in a much less competitive environment across channels. As a result, CPCs hit their lowest point in 2020 during the first months of the pandemic.

Sidecar analysts evaluated these CPC trends in our recently released 2021 Benchmarks Report. The report is an annual and award-winning assessment of online performance marketing, covering the retail industry. We explored advertising trends on Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon, providing a full picture of the state of online retail marketing.

It’s fascinating to track how CPCs fluctuated throughout last year, sometimes in identical ways across marketing channels. We dug into the data from our report to map CPC trends and understand why retailers in these channels experienced CPC spikes and declines at different times of the year. Here are some of the key lessons we learned last year.