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Retailers Increase Google Shopping Spend 21% Over Cyber Five 2018

Mobile spend jumps 38% across Cyber Five to drive nearly all channel growth, according to Sidecar’s 2018 Google Ads Holiday Series.

A strong Cyber Five performance showcased steady year-over-year growth in Google Shopping. Sidecar took a representative sample of U.S. retailers and analyzed their Google Ads accounts between Nov. 16 and Nov. 30, 2018, and compared performance to the same period in 2017.

In addition to increased spend and mobile growth, retailers devoted the majority of their Google Ads budget to Google Shopping during the second half of November. This indicates the channel’s importance in retailers’ marketing strategy during the peak holiday shopping period.


For the complete breakdown of the 2018 holiday season, consult our pre-Cyber Five and post-Cyber Five articles.


In the second installment of our 2018 Holiday series, we looked at how retailers performed in Google’s paid search and shopping channels across the latter half of November, specifically during Cyber Five.

Google Shopping Average Spend

Average daily Google Shopping spend increased each day of Cyber Five compared to 2017. Thanksgiving saw the biggest year-over-year increase in daily spend at 34%, with Black Friday following closely behind at 32%.

Google Shopping Average CPC

Average CPC across Cyber Five saw little movement when compared to 2017. While mobile owns a growing share of daily Shopping spend, average CPC over the five-day period dropped a mere 1% year over year.

Hourly Percentage of Total Cyber Five Impressions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday shoppers were most active in Google Shopping in the morning, with total impressions in the channel peaking at 10 a.m. Despite a slight dip in impressions after, there was steady activity through the 8 p.m. hour.

Cyber Monday, on the other hand, saw impressions gradually increase throughout the day and peak at 8 p.m.

Hourly Google Shopping Spend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

We speculated that Saturday and Sunday would be “white space” days for retailers to be more aggressive in 2018. Instead, we saw an opposite trend take shape. Retailers doubled down on hyperactive Black Friday and Cyber Monday, spending the most within Google Shopping over those two days. This activity shows that we have yet to reach a saturation point for Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Retailers targeted consumers shopping at work on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with large portions of Shopping spend coming between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on both days.

Google Shopping Clicks and Impressions for Desktop and Mobile

Mobile played a big role in the increase in clicks and impressions in Google Shopping during Cyber Five 2018. Mobile clicks jumped 32% year over year while mobile impressions nearly doubled at 92%.

Desktop saw growth as well, albeit at a slower pace than mobile. Desktop clicks increased 5% year over year and impressions were up 28% during the Cyber Five period. This impression growth is largely due to Google displaying more ads than in years past, as well as increased search volume within the channel.

Google Shopping Spend by Device, 11/16 – 11/30

Mobile was the majority device retailers invested their Shopping spend in during the second half of November. Over that time, mobile accounted for 51% of total spend by device, up from 44% last year over the same period. This movement to mobile also speaks to desktop saturation. With retailers becoming mobile oriented, now is a good opportunity for retailers to invest in their mobile site and spend if they haven’t done so yet.

Google Shopping vs. Paid Search Spend, 11/16 – 11/30

Google Shopping is taking a bigger piece of retailers’ Google Ads budget as the holiday season kicks off. During the latter half of November, Shopping accounted for 53% of retailers’ Google Ads spend. In 2017, 48% of spend went to Shopping during the same period.

There was also a slight shift in channel spend compared to the first half of November. We noted in our previous Holiday series post that Shopping accounted for 49% of spend during that period. Retailers are devoting more spend to Shopping during the holidays, and it will be interesting to see if this trend keeps up through December.

Retailers’ AOV Change, Second Half of November vs. First Half 2018

52% of retailers saw little to no change in Average Order Value in the second half of November compared to the first. 32% of retailers had a -10-0% AOV change, followed 20% of retailers seeing a 0-10% change. Discounts are one reason why AOV dropped for many retailers during the second half of November. Conversely, those who saw an increase can credit larger basket sizes for the jump in AOV.


Want more holiday analysis in Google Ads? Access the 2019 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retail and learn about the latest trends shaping the retail industry.


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