Google Shopping & PLAs Drive SEM Growth on Cyber Monday

Maybe it’s the SERP layout, or maybe it’s just that people like pictures… PLA clicks grew 38% this year on Cyber Monday, and accounted for 45% of all SEM traffic! With sales up 57% from PLAs that day, it goes without saying that this element of paid search is of the utmost importance in terms of strategic focus and budget allocation this holiday season.  Overall SEM traffic was up (only) 10% on Cyber Monday, and corresponding sales were up 14% on a YoY basis.

While growth was stronger on Thanksgiving and the days leading up to it, the fact that the largest single sales day of the holiday season still has room to grow is exciting – and it tells an equally exciting story for the rest of 2018.  We may have pulled some sales/growth forward, with retailers launching promotions so early last week, but overall there is still traffic and sales growth to be had across all parts of paid search.  Non-brand text ads also saw fantastic growth at 39% in sales and 19% in traffic, for example.

For years, the Cyber Monday focus and concern in paid search was related to CPCs.  Good news there – PMX clients only saw an 8% increase in CPCs this year over last year’s Cyber Monday. With sales up almost double that rate, and AOV up a staggering 25%, retailers can seemingly afford that nominal CPC bump.

And if you’re a brand still focused on your desktop experience on site, we respectfully ask that you pivot your on-site user experience strategy to be mobile focused, starting now. Mobile SEM traffic on Cyber Monday was up 28% YoY. Mobile sales grew even more, 49% YoY, to account for nearly 1 in 4 sales from SEM. All that growth, while Cyber Monday is typically a slightly less-mobile-than-average day, compared to other key days when shoppers are more likely to be out and about (Thanksgiving, Black Friday and weekends in general).  Mobile SEM traffic gets even more important as we inch closer to shipping cut offs and the sense of conversion urgency grows. And because PLAs are the growth story here – it’s important to note that sales from mobile PLAs specifically were up…wait for it…165% year over year!

There’s still plenty of time left this season – keep pushing on mobile and PLAs to continue to drive sales this year!

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