2014 Holiday Season to Date

A Holiday Season recap through 12/4/14

Last Holiday, PM Digital reported that impressions were down 2% across our clients  for the entire season. We cited the big reason for this was the “Amazon-effect.” Well, the big news this season so far, is that impressions throughout this Holiday to date are up a whopping 24%. Does this mean Amazon is having less of an impact this season or is something else at play? Ding Ding… something else is most certainly at play… PRODUCT ADS! How did Google & Bing choose to offset the loss in impressions? They opted for more ads with double listings on the search engine results page (SERP) by leveraging their paid search product ads. We started to see this last year with Google driving more product image formats in search. This year, not only have the ad formats continued to evolve to include more product ads, additionally, more retail-centered queries are serving product ads than ever before. What’s more? Bing is following suit and firmly establishing its presence in the product ads game. This year they stepped on the gas and copied exactly what Google is doing…. allocating more SERP space to product ads and serving them more often. Just like that: 11 ads are now shown above the fold vs. 6. For example, Macy’s just earned 4 impressions on one query for “Nike Running Shoes” (see screen shot below).

Google SERP

holiday shopping recap_ google SERP


holiday shopping recap_bing SERP


With product ads giving new meaning to the term “impression share”, Holiday 2014 is proving that, perhaps, this is not a bad thing. Comping 22% increases on last year’s revenue so far with only a slight decline in conversion rate, retailers are pleased with their search performance. While CPCs did go up 12% YoY, driven largely by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the revenue volume made the slight hit to ROI worth it.

This is a reminder to retailers: managing text and product ads separately – when queries are what drives the ad serving – will limit your ability to maximize exposure where it counts. In Q3 we reported the shift in Google Product Ads YoY. This year in Q3, 62% of impressions were Google Product Ads vs. 41% last year. Let’s not ignore this shift. Strategically managing and optimizing the SERP as a unit is the best approach to a successful paid search program.

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