Winter Holiday 2017 – Unwrapping the first half of the season

More than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). While the main focus of many ads during this time is gift giving for the holidays, consumers also used the weekend as an opportunity to take advantage of sales for personal items. Indeed, the NRF reports that average per person spending during this time was $335.47, with 75 percent ($250.78) specifically spent on gifts. With consumers spending so much on loved ones, as well as themselves, retail advertisers are making sure they get noticed during the biggest sales event of the year.

Retail advertising on national TV during the winter holiday season has been off to a strong start. From October 30-November 26, 2017 retail advertisers have spent $667 million on national TV ads – an increase of 10.4 percent compared to the similar time period in 2016. This is a welcome uptick after a slow 2016 holiday season for retail advertising. On a weekly basis, spend followed an almost identical pattern compared to 2016, however the levels of expenditures were consistently higher every week of 2017.

Additionally, increases have been seen across the board for the top retail advertisers.

Black Friday is still a big deal… for some retailers

Though overall retail spending has been up, spend on ads that mention Black Friday has been down by 20 percent. Declining spend on Black Friday messages has become a trend in recent years, and in 2017, the majority of retail segments saw significant decreases in spend on ads focused specifically on the sale event. The increases that did occur were nominal, with the exception of Hobby & Craft Stores. The segment was a newcomer for Black Friday promotions, with total expenditures coming from Michaels Arts & Crafts.

More retailers have been extending their sales into a 4-day event from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, and subtle shifts in ad messaging are becoming apparent. References to Black Friday and one-day only deals are giving ground to broader, generic mentions such as “this weekend” or “Friday through Monday”. Of course Black Friday remains a crucial part of the holiday dialogue, but retailers have been referring to it less frequently in their ads.

Despite the overall decline, four of the top five retailers using Black Friday messaging did indeed increase their spending on this creative theme.

The decreases came from other big budget retailers like Walmart (-53%), Macy’s (-45%) and Toys R Us (-37%). Further, there were several retailers that dropped their Black Friday messaging from national TV altogether including Dicks Sporting Goods, Gap, Kmart, Old Navy, Overstock, PetSmart and Wayfair. Together, these two factors resulted in the declines we found in Black Friday message spend totals.

Retail Leaders in Paid Search Advertising

AdGooroo examined paid search advertising performance over the 2017 Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, analyzing U.S. Google text ad and product listing ad click share on 2500 top retail product keywords across desktop and mobile search from November 24 through November 27. Keyword examples include ‘engagement rings’, ‘mattresses’, ‘shoes’, ‘fitbit’, ‘laptops’, ‘cameras’, ‘refrigerators’, ‘uggs’ and ‘vacuum cleaners’.

Desktop Paid Search
A handful of advertisers were among the most clicked advertisers on desktop paid search for both text ads and product listing ads.

Amazon had a strong presence in desktop searches on the 2500 retail product keywords, capturing 11.9% of text ad clicks and 3.2% of product listing ad clicks on the keyword group over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. Amazon notably only began advertising on Google’s product listing ad offering in the days after Christmas last year but has changed the product listing ad landscape for Holiday 2017, ranking 4th in PLA clicks this year.

Walmart was the top product listing ad advertiser on desktop search over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, gaining 7.2% of all desktop PLA clicks on the 2500 retail product keywords. However, as we saw last year, Walmart once again did not put as much focus on text ads, where it gained a 1% click share on desktop search for the keyword group.

JCPenney and Kohl’s both had a very strong showing in desktop search over the extended weekend. JCPenney ranked second in text ad clicks with a 6.5% click share and fifth in PLA clicks with 3.1% click share, while Kohl’s ranked second in product listing ad clicks with a 4.6% click share and sixth in text ads with a 1.7% click share.

Macy’s ranked 3rd in desktop text ad clicks with a 3.1% click share and 8th in desktop product listing clicks with a 2.6% click share. Best Buy ranked 4th in desktop text ad clicks with a 2.9% click share, while ranking 6th in desktop PLAs with a 3.1% click share.

Similar to Walmart, Target also concentrated its desktop search efforts on product listing ads, ranking 3rd in desktop PLAs with a 4% click share. The retailer gained less than 1% click share in desktop text ad clicks on the retail product keyword group.

Amazon-owned Zappos ranked fifth in desktop text ad clicks with a 2.2% click share, but its 1.7% PLA click share was only good enough for the apparel and shoe retailer to rank 13th in desktop PLAs.

Mobile Search Performance

Mobile Paid Search 

We saw very similar performance on the 2500 retail product keywords in mobile search compared to desktop search.

Amazon led in mobile text ad clicks with a 9.1% click share while also ranking 5th in mobile product listing ad clicks with a 2.9% click share. Reversing roles, Walmart led in mobile product listing ad clicks with an 11.5% click share while ranking 9th in mobile text ads with a 1.2% click share.

Following Walmart, Kohl’s, Target and Best Buy all generated higher product list ad clicks than text ad clicks. Kohl’s had 6.9% mobile PLA click share vs. 1.5% text ad click share, while Target gained a 6.3% click share vs. a 2.5% text ad click share and Best Buy garnered a 6% PLA click share vs. a 3.8% text ad click share.

JCPenney ranked 2nd in mobile text ads with a 4.8% click share, while ranking 6th in mobile PLA clicks with a 3% click share. Macy’s ranked 4th in mobile text ads with a 2.5% click share and 7th in mobile PLAs with a similar 2.2% click share.

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