Rent the Runway Takes on Prom Dress Retailers in Paid Search Advertising

From prom to weddings, men have long been accustomed to renting formalwear for special occasions. But for women, purchasing a prom or wedding dress is far more the norm—or at least it has been.

In what may be another example of a traditional industry being ‘disrupted’, AdGooroo found Rent the Runway, which rents designer dresses and accessories for a variety of occasions, capturing a significant portion of clicks and impressions on popular prom dress keywords this spring, including ‘prom dresses’, ‘plus size prom dresses’, ‘cheap prom dresses’ and ‘short prom dresses’.

Looking at U.S. Google desktop text ad activity on 125 non-branded prom dress keywords over the 30-day period of April 3-May 2, 2017, AdGooroo found Rent the Runway ranked third in clicks on the keyword group with a 9.3% click share, just behind Macy’s (9.5% click share) and ahead of JCPenney (7.1% click share). Online retailer JJ’s House, which specializes in special occasion dresses, bested all advertisers with an 11% click share on the keyword group.

Prom Share of Clicks  

JJ’s House also led in impressions on the prom dress keyword group during the period with an 11.3% impression share, while Rent the Runway ranked second with a 9.9% impression share, followed by Macy’s (8.7% impression share) and JCPenney (6.7% impression share).

Considering Rent the Runway’s recent prominence on the prom dress keyword group, we were curious about when the company entered the paid search marketplace for prom dresses. Looking at roughly the last 3 months, we found Rent the Runway began its campaign on March 15 and thereafter began capturing an increasingly larger portion of the marketplace—and displacing other advertisers—over the ensuing weeks, as illustrated by the chart below.

Prom Share of Voice 

Seeing Double (Actually, Make That a Triple)

Returning to click share on the prom dress keyword group over the recent 30-day period, we found something we haven’t encountered in our paid search research before—the same website appearing twice in the ranking under two different, distinct domain names. generated a 6.6% click share on the keyword group from April 3 to May 2, while produced a 4.3% click share. Although the sites are distinct and neither are a subdomain of the other, they appear to have the exact same content. Additionally, a third site, which appears to be owned by the same company as and, captured a 1.6% click share on the prom dress keywords.

We believe the parent company for all three sites may be In any case, the three ‘Jolly’ websites together captured 12.5% of all clicks on the prom dress keyword group during the 30-day period – more than any other advertiser.

JJ’s House Dominates Product Listing Ads

We also examined U.S. Google desktop product listing ad (PLA) clicks on the 125 prom dress keywords during the same 30-day period, April 3 to May 2.

Prom Share of Clicks  

JJ’s House again led in clicks but with an even larger click share than in text ads, an impressive 16.8%. For comparison, the closest advertiser in the PLA ranking was Lulu’s with a 6.8% click share –  far higher than its own 1.03% click share for text ads but ten full percentage points behind JJ’s House in PLAs. PromGirl was next in PLA clicks with a 6.5% click share, followed by Jolly Belle (5.6%) and Jolly Prom (5.2%) rounding out the top five.

Macy’s (4.9% click share) and Neiman Marcus (4% click share) were the only two traditional advertisers with a click share above 1% in the product listing ad ranking.

Rent the Runway was not active in product listing ads for the 125 prom dress keywords AdGooroo examined during the 30-day period.

Text Ads vs. PLAs in Spend

Advertisers spent $487,000 sponsoring the 125 prom dress keywords via U.S. Google desktop text ads during the 30-day period compared to $541,000 sponsoring the same keywords via U.S. Google desktop product listing ads.

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