Website Builder & Hosting Advertising Trends

Advertising in the website builder and hosting category has increased significantly in 2019, according to Kantar analysis of ad spending by eight top companies in the space, including Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Shopify, WordPress, Hostgator, BigCommerce and GoDaddy. Among the services offered by these providers are online tools that enable businesses and consumers to quickly get a website created and running.

Together the eight companies spent $95 million on advertising that promoted their respective website builder and/or web hosting solutions in the second half of 2018. Collectively they increased their ad spend by 69% to $161 million in the first half of 2019, with only two advertisers, GoDaddy and WordPress, decreasing their spend during the period.

Website Builder and Hosting Advertisers

Squarespace was the top spender by far, topping out at $108 million in advertising expenditure in the first half of 2019, a 117% increase over its spend in the second half of 2018. To give perspective on how far ahead Squarespace is than its competitors, Weebly ranked second in ad spend at $23 million in H1 2019, which was double the spend of the third-ranked advertiser, Shopify.

The advertiser with the largest increase from the second half of 2018 to the first half of 2019 was Wix, whose 1,425% surge in ad spend this year was attributable to its $4.5 million 30-second Super Bowl LIII ad in February. (GoDaddy and Squarespace have both run commercials during many recent Super Bowls but were notably absent this year.)

While these figures include ad spend for TV, online display, paid social, radio, magazines, newspapers and outdoor, 76% of spend across the four quarters was centered on online display advertising.

Paid Search Advertising

In a separate study, Kantar also looked at the performance of website builder and hosting companies in paid search advertising, specifically examining U.S. Google desktop and mobile clicks on 50 top non-branded keywords related to website building and 50 non-branded terms related to web hosting from July 2018 through June 2019.

 Website Builder Top Paid Search Advertisers

For website builder keywords, had the overall best performance, ranking first in mobile with a sizable 20.6% share of total mobile clicks on the keyword group and an 8.8% desktop click share. GoDaddy ranked second in mobile with an 11.2% click share and fourth in desktop with an 8.7% click share. Squarespace ranked first in desktop clicks with an impressive 16.1% click share but did not make the top 10 in mobile clicks.

 Website Hosting Top Paid Search Advertisers again led in clicks for web hosting keywords, gaining a 12% mobile click share and an 8.3% desktop click share. Hostgator ranked second in mobile with a 7% click share and third in desktop with an 8.2% click share.

While GoDaddy ranked first in desktop with a 10.7% click share, the company did not rank in the top 10 for mobile. Similarly, Squarespace again ranked in desktop for the web hosting keywords (7th with a 4.6% click share) but did not rank in the top 10 for mobile.

One trend that was notable across both keyword groups is the prominent performance of lead aggregator sites such as and, which attract searchers with reviews and comparisons of the various providers, who in turn pay a fee to the lead aggregators for leads who click through to their own site.

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