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Retailers Boost Google Shopping Spend 17% Ahead of Cyber Five 2018

Mobile drives 25% increase in clicks leading up to the holiday shopping kickoff, according to Sidecar’s 2018 Google Ads Holiday series.

When and how consumers shop during the holiday season is changing. Sidecar analyzed the Google Ads accounts of its U.S. retail customers from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15, 2018, and compared performance to the same period in 2017. What we found is that consumers are shopping online earlier, with significant jumps in impressions and clicks in the first half of November, and they’re making more of their purchase decisions on mobile devices.


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


In our first installment of our 2018 holiday series, we’ll dive into data around spend, clicks, impressions, device share, and more to understand how retailers are performing on Google Ads leading up to the all-important Cyber Five.

Google Shopping Average Spend

Google Shopping spend is up in first half of November compared to last year, averaging a 17% increase. That means retailers are actually expanding their investment in the channel during the pre-Cyber Five period.

Google Shopping Average CPC

CPCs, on the other hand, have remained relatively flat. This is due in part to mobile’s growing presence on Google Shopping. Although mobile CPCs have increased in cost, they tend to have a lower cost than desktop CPCs and have increased in volume compared to desktop. The result is that overall CPCs have leveled out.

Google Shopping Clicks and Impressions for Desktop and Mobile

Both clicks and impressions increased in Google Shopping during the first half of November, signaling an overall boost in early holiday shopping activity. Interestingly, most of the growth for impressions and clicks occurred on mobile devices. Retailers saw a massive increase in mobile impressions, which grew 70% in 2018. Desktop and tablets saw a more modest impression gain of 21%.

Google Shopping Spend by Device, 11/1 – 11/15

Along with clicks and impressions, mobile spend is up. During the first half of November, mobile accounted for 49% of spend, whereas desktop accounted for 42% of spend. This is a significant shift from last year when desktop captured a larger share of spend, and it is yet another indication of mobile’s growing importance in Google Shopping.

Google Shopping vs. Paid Search Spend, 11/1 – 11/15

Google Shopping captured a larger share of retailer spend in the first half of November, compared to the same period last year, and the channel is nearing parity with paid search. Retailers spent 49% of their Google Ads budget on Google Shopping and 51% on paid search. Paid search tends to have higher CPCs because it is a more saturated and competitive channel, which may contribute to the higher spend share. It will be interesting to see as retailers enter the Cyber Five period if this balance will shift in favor of Google Shopping.


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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