Valentine’s Day Gifts for Him & Her in Paid Search Advertising

When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts for women, flowers, jewelry and chocolates immediately come to mind. But for men, gift ideas have always been a bit more elusive—a truism that was bolstered by recent findings from Kantar Media, which analyzed paid search advertising on U.S. Google searches for Valentine’s Day gifts ‘for her’ and ‘for him’ in the first seven days of February.

Specifically, we looked at text ad and product listing ad activity on six general keywords such as ‘valentines day gifts for him’ and ‘valentine gifts for her’ during the period. We did not analyze keywords related to specific product searches such as flowers or candy.

Overall, we found 82% more clicks on ads related to Valentine’s Day gifts for men than clicks on ads promoting gifts for women during the period, strongly suggesting that shoppers are having a tougher time figuring out what to get their man this year than those who are shopping for women.

(They are likely to pay less though; Kantar Media found that the average advertised price in Google product listing ads on Valentine’s Day gifts ‘for him’ was $34.93 compared to $54.30 on Valentine gifts ‘for her’.)

The most clicked advertisers for each keyword search gives an indication of the types of gifts being purchased for men and women this year.

Same Advertisers, Same Gifts for Both Women & Men

Although there were some marked differences in the types of Valentine’s Day gifts being promoted for men and women, we were surprised to find many of the same advertisers were at the top of the rankings for both sexes and that they actually promoted the same gifts for each group., which sells gifts that can be personalized with names, photos and messages, dominated clicks on searches for Valentine’s Day gifts for both men and women, topping product listing ads and traditional text ads on desktop and mobile search with click shares ranging from 17.5% to 36.1%. The retailer advertised many of the same gifts for both women and men, including a customizable, engraved heart-shaped keepsake, bathrobes, a fleece blanket, plaques and picture frames. (PersonalizationMall did also promote different products for the two sexes, though mostly in its text ads. For instance, ads appearing on searches for gifts for women included thongs, jewelry and a camisole, while ads for men included items such as boxer shorts, beer mugs, fishing lures and golf gifts.)

Other top 5 advertisers that appeared in Valentine’s Day gift searches for both men and women largely promoted the same items to both sexes as well. My M&M’s offered its customized M&M candies, for instance, while Shari’s Berries mostly promoted chocolate-covered strawberries and LoveBook pushed its personalized hardcover books.

Interestingly, ProFlowers was another top advertiser who promoted the same items to both sexes—rose bouquets, which traditionally fall into the women’s gift category.  ProFlowers ranked #1 in mobile PLA clicks for her and #2 in desktop PLA clicks for her, while also ranking #5 in mobile PLA clicks for him.

Top PLA results show many of the same advertisers, and products, displaying for Valentine’s Day gift searches ‘for him’ and ‘for her’ on U.S. Google, February 11, 2019

Gifts Just for Him

Advertisers found only among the top rankings on searches for Valentine’s Day gifts for him include Man Crates, the gift site focused on male tastes, which promoted items such as its Jerky Heart cured meat gift box. Johnnie Walker offered a personalized Scotch Whiskey bottle, while 23andMe promoted “DNA Testing” (of the ancestry and health variety, not paternity), Sharper Image offered “Electronics and Massage” and Walmart advertised “Valentine’s Movies”.

Gifts Just for Her

Advertisers appearing exclusively in the top 5 on gift searches for women include Crabtree & Evelyn (offering soap and lotion gift sets), Michael Kors (“feel the love” gift cards as well as handbags, wallets, watches, shoes and clothing), FromYouFlowers (same-day gift baskets), and jewelry sellers Tiffany & Co and Kay Jewelers.  Amazon was also found promoting gifts for women in its Home & Garden category as well as its Prime memberships.

Lastly, Dyson ranked #3 on mobile text ad clicks, thankfully promoting its Supersonic Hair Dryer rather than vacuum cleaners, which we believe both men and women can agree would not make a good romantic gift.

Vive la Différence?

The results of Kantar Media’s paid search Valentine’s Day gift study may be one small indicator that American society is less rigid in its attitudes toward gifts for men and women than one may have suspected based on conventional thinking. After all, consumers searching for gifts for men largely clicked on the same advertisers promoting the same traditional Valentine’s Day items such as roses and sweets as those searching for gifts for women.

Of course, one could be tempted to chock up these findings to something more perfunctory than profound, such as Google’s system broad matching all Valentine’s Day gift keyword searches without regard to modifiers such as ‘for him’ and ‘for her’ and as a result serving the same ads to everyone.

Without insight into Google’s inner workings, it’s impossible to say. But one thing does seem more certain: if consumers did not like the ads they were shown, they would not have clicked on them. And, it bears repeating, we found 82% more clicks on ads promoting Valentine’s Day gifts for men than ads promoting gifts for women.

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