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Why Toys and Hobbies Ads Surged During the Pandemic

Toys and hobbies ads experienced huge increases in consumer demand throughout the pandemic. As households were forced to remain indoors, a desire for nostalgia and quality time away from screens grew exponentially. That led to a surge in toys and hobbies online sales, particularly for board games and puzzles.

“ROAS and conversion rates were very strong in this segment, which allowed for some larger mass merchant retailers to be more aggressive with these kinds of products in their catalog and grow sales volume through them.” – Phil Turicik, Director of Enterprise Strategy, Sidecar

“Puzzles, board games, toys, and hobby-related items surged in search demand across Q2 and Q3 2020,” says Phil Turicik, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Sidecar. “Return on ad spend and conversion rates were very strong for this segment, which allowed for some larger mass merchant retailers to be more aggressive with these kinds of products in their catalog and grow sales volume through them.”

Sidecar tracked important KPIs within this segment throughout 2020 to better understand the unique opportunities toys and hobbies retailers capitalized on last year. We analyzed these insights in our annual 2021 Benchmarks Report, tracking how toys and hobbies ads performed on Google Shopping, Google paid search, Facebook, and Instagram.

Retailers Saw Greatest Returns and Lowest Costs on Google Ads

Consumers made the majority of their large toys and hobbies purchases on Google Paid search, with average order values (AOV) averaging $130.47 for the year. This likely reflects branded keyword searches, where shoppers already know the product they want to buy, search for the branded term, and buy immediately after clicking the paid search ad.

Google paid search also boasted the largest return on ad spend (ROAS) of any channel at 23.29. Branded keyword traffic likely drove these large returns as well.

The most affordable channel to reach toys and hobbies shoppers was Google Shopping, where cost per click (CPC) averaged $0.20 in 2020 and cost per acquisition (CPA) averaged just $4.70. That was the lowest of any of the four advertising channels we tracked for this segment.

High Conversion Rates and Large Orders Boosted Sales on Social Media

In 2020, AOV grew nearly two times on Facebook to $53.14. That may reflect the increased amount of time consumers spent on social media this past year and a growing comfort in making purchases on this channel. 

On Instagram, toys and hobbies retailers’ ROAS jumped 56% year over year to 5.47, thanks to an increase in AOV and a 72% increase in conversion rates year over year. Retailers who advertised on Instagram had slightly higher conversion rates than on Facebook, which may justify the higher cost of this channel.

Invest in Outdoor Entertainment as the Pandemic Lifts

Looking ahead, toys and hobbies retailers should shift their focus to outdoor games as pandemic restrictions lift and consumers plan to increase their time outside. Targeting past customers with ads for lawn games, for example, may be a viable way to re-engage this audience and grow customer loyalty in 2021 and beyond.

For more insights on toys and hobbies retailers’ monthly performance across channels, performance based on monthly ad spend, and year over year performance in critical KPIs, download the 2021 Benchmarks Report. The insights in this report will help you identify new opportunities for your business and plan successful marketing campaigns for the year ahead.

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