Google product listing Ads drive close to 9 -to-1 return on Ad spend

Sharath Kumar
New Update

LONDON, UK: More than one out of every three retail paid search advertising clicks globally this shopping holiday season have come from mobile devices, and retail advertisers have generated nearly a 9 to 1 return from their spend on Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Overall there was 19.1 per cent year-on-year (YoY) increase in total global sales revenue driven by search advertising during the season - and a 300 per cent increase in U.K. sales revenue on Black Friday.


These are among the key findings from Kenshoo, the global leader in premium digital marketing technology in its 2013 Global Online Retail Seasonal Shopping Report: Early Edition. The analysis covers retail paid search impressions, clicks, spend, conversions, and revenue generated to date in the shopping season² globally and with insights for the U.K. and United States.

Seasonal retail mobile paid search clicks jump by nearly third

To date for the 2013 shopping season, 36.7 per cent of all global retail paid search clicks have come from mobile devices, a 32.1 per cent year on year (YoY) increase from 2012. The biggest jump is in tablet devices which increased from 8.7 per cent of total clicks in 2012 to 16.3 per cent this year (a lift of 87.3 per cent YoY). Phone clicks grew just 7.5 per cent YoY to 20.4 per cent of total clicks.

Retail paid search advertisers allocated 66.7 per cent more of their budgets to mobile devices this shopping season. In 2012, just 20.5 per cent of total paid search spend went to mobile devices (11.8 per cent to phones, 8.7 per cent to tablets), but this increased to 34.4 per cent in 2013 (17.7 per cent to phones, 16.7 per cent to tablets).


Google PLAs driving increased returns for retail advertisers

With Google Shopping transitioned to a fully paid model based on PLAs this year, retailers spent nearly twice as much (196.1 per cent YoY) on this ad format during the 2013 shopping season. Advertisers reaped the rewards with total global revenues from PLAs increasing 417.4 per cent YoY, and the ad format generating a close to 9 to 1 return on investment (a return of £8.62 for every pound spent).

Global and U.K. growth in holiday search advertising

Global spend on retail paid search advertising during the season to date grew by 34.1 per cent YoY, with clicks increasing 26.9 per cent YoY and impressions growing 12.5 per cent YoY. In the U.K. there was an 11 per cent YoY growth in spend and steady increases in clicks and impressions, specifically on Black Friday, with a 43.6 per cent YoY growth in clicks and 35.1 per cent YoY growth in impressions. Cyber Monday³ still drives the most traffic during the peak shopping season in the U.K., showing considerable YoY growth of 12.6 per cent .

"Retail search advertising continues to show healthy growth in spend, clicks and impressions, indicating that consumers and marketers alike are seeing increasing benefits from it," said Josh Dreller, Director of Marketing Research at Kenshoo. "This year the big increase in mobile search spend is most likely driven by Google's shift to enhanced campaigns which means that advertisers are now automatically opted in to tablet and phone targeting by default within AdWords. And the enormous growth and fantastic performance of PLAs means they are likely to become integral to marketers' advertising strategies year-round."


Kenshoo's 2013 Global Online Retail Seasonal Shopping Report: Early Edition contains an in-depth look at mobile ad performance and Google PLAs, along with timely search engine marketing trends and insights. The report also includes implications for advertisers and a glossary of search marketing terms and formulas.

The data analysed in this report by Kenshoo reflects a representative cross-section of global Kenshoo clients (advertisers and agencies) managing paid search programs for the retail vertical with active campaigns tracking impressions, clicks, conversions and revenue from November 1, 2012 through December 9, 2013. All YoY comparisons are from retailers engaged in paid search marketing in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons so key metrics can be considered "same store sales." This index includes all major retail categories such as, but not limited to, electronics, books, apparel, appliances, shoes, sporting goods and more. All data is accurate as of December 10, 2013 but subject to change as delayed conversions continue to accrue. The data set covers 10+ billion paid impressions and clicks on search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing that delivered more than $500 million dollars in online sales revenues during the November periods.

Download 2013 Global Online Retail Seasonal Shopping Report: Early Edition to get a breakdown of all the key SEM metrics for the season to date.

¹ Black Friday is an American tradition where retailers slash the price of their goods the day after Thanksgiving in order to encourage shoppers back into stores. However, US retailers have now brought the promotion to the UK. Amazon started offering Black Friday deals online three years ago, but this year (2013) Asda, which is owned by US retailer Walmart, was the first UK-based retailer to offer heavy discounts in stores.

² For the purposes of this early edition report, the shopping season is defined as:

For the U.S. and Global analysis: the three weeks leading up to U.S. Thanksgiving and through Cyber Monday (26 total days)

The 2012 early shopping season was November 1st through November 26th

The 2013 early shopping season was November 7th through December 2nd

For the U.K. analysis: the four weeks leading up to U.S. Thanksgiving and through Green Monday (40 total days)

The 2012 early shopping season was November 1st through December 10th

The 2013 early shopping season was October 31st through December 9th

³ Cyber Monday falls on the first Monday in December and is traditionally a peak day for holiday online shopping