Retailers Dominate Child Car Seat Advertising Using Paid Search
Child car seat laws in the U.S. vary by state, but one thing holds true—if you are a parent who plans on driving with your child, you’re going to need one. Many parents, in fact, will purchase a minimum of three car seats in their child’s lifetime, from infant-only seats to convertible seats to booster seats, depending on the child’s age, height and/or weight. And they’re not exactly cheap; the average advertised price for a child car seat in Google product listing ads over the last 30 days was $181.87 according to Kantar Media data, suggesting that parents will spend around $600 on car seats in their child’s lifetime. With four million new babies born in the U.S. every year, that adds up.
Which got us wondering—how are car seat advertisers reaching these lucrative consumers to drive sales of their products? The answer, we found, is paid search.
Kantar Media measured U.S. advertising expenditure for child car seats in a variety of media from January through November 2018, including digital media and traditional media such as television, magazines, radio and newspapers. Nearly all of it, $21 million, was devoted to paid search advertising on Google.
The next largest ad expenditure, just $564,000, went to magazines such as Parents and Fit Pregnancy and Baby, while $253,000 was spent on cable television ads on stations such as Nick at Nite, VH-1, MTV and E!
Notably, car seat brands such as Graco, Chicco and Britax, accounted for all advertising in the non-paid search media, while retailers advertising in paid search, especially product listing ads, were responsible for the vast majority of advertising spend in the product category. This phenomenon is not unexpected considering ads targeted toward magazines and TV shows with the proper audience demographic allow brands to build awareness among consumers who are good candidates for their products. Paid search advertising, in contrast, is transactional in nature and is geared toward driving retail purchases.
Walmart and Target Lead in Paid Search Advertising
To assess paid search leadership in the child car seat product category, we analyzed product listing ad and text ad clicks on ads displaying for 57 popular car seat keywords on U.S. Google desktop and mobile search from January through November 2018, including ‘infant car seats’, ‘convertible car seat’, ‘toddler car seat’ and ‘car seat’.
Overall, product listing ads (PLAs), which include a product image and price, drove 98% of clicks on paid search ads for child car seats. Breaking it down, mobile PLAs accounted for 56% of clicks while desktop PLAs drove 42% of clicks.
Walmart was the top advertiser, garnering 28.8% of all mobile PLA clicks and 27.5% of all desktop PLA clicks during the period. Target was next, generating a 23% mobile PLA click share and a 24% desktop PLA click share, while Kohl’s ranked third in mobile PLAs with a 13% click share and Buy Buy Baby ranked third in desktop PLAs with a 10.5% share of clicks.
All of the top 10 mobile and desktop PLA advertisers were large retailers with the exception of Graco, manufacturer of car seats and other children’s items. Graco ranked 10th in mobile PLA clicks with a 1.3% click share.
Graco also topped traditional text ads on both desktop and mobile search. However, as mentioned above, total clicks on car seat text ads was dwarfed by clicks on car seat product listing ads during the period.
Graco and EvenFlo the Most Visible Brands in Amazon Search Results
Amazon has quickly become an important player in digital advertising for all manner of products, including child car seats. To evaluate brand leadership on Amazon, Kantar Media analyzed the most visible car seat brands appearing in Amazon.com search results for the keyword ‘car seat’ over the 30-day period from January 15 through February 14, ranking the top 10 brands based on factors including the percentage of time each brand was found in the top 3 positions on the first search results page, the brand’s average page position and the number of the brand’s listings found.
With 704 organic listings and 29 sponsored listings found, Graco was the most visible brand during the period, appearing in the top 3 positions 18% of the time when the keyword ‘car seat’ was searched. Although Evenflo appeared in the top 3 positions a whopping 46% of the time, we found far fewer total listings for the brand than Graco, 526 vs. 729, pushing Evenflo into the second ranking position. Safety 1st ranked third with 92 sponsored listing and 250 organic listings found.
Costo, Alphabetz and Doona, ranked 8th, 9th and 10th, respectively, did not sponsor listings during the time we studied, and appeared in the top 10 ranking based solely on their organic listings. (In the case of Alphabetz, they had just one organic listing, while Doona had only three.) Flipping roles, Baby Jogger ranked fifth with 16 sponsored listings and no organic listings, while Maxi-Cosi ranked seventh based on its 63 sponsored listings and just one organic listing, highlighting the power of sponsored listings to elevate a brand’s visibility on Amazon.