US retailers are prioritizing Google Shopping ads over text ads, according to the 2018 Google Shopping Benchmarks Report [registration page] from Sidecar. Based on an analysis of more than 300 US retailers’ activity in 2017, the report notes that ad spending across Google’s search network grew by 20%, with much greater increases for Google Shopping ads (34%) than for text ads (2%).

Here are 4 highlights from the report.

1. The Desktop-to-Mobile Purchase Path Accelerates

Traditionally, data has suggested that consumers research on mobile but convert on desktop. Recent research indicates that this might be changing, though: a Monetate study, for example, found that multi-device shoppers don’t necessarily gravitate to desktops to complete their purchases, as mobiles and desktops performed equally in conversions: when each device was used as the first-touch in a multi-device shopping journey, it ended up with the purchase 54% of the time.

This latest research from Sidecar not only supports mobile’s role as the last-touch device, but finds growth in a reverse pattern: the desktop as the first click and the mobile as the last click.

Looking specifically at Google Shopping cross-device conversions and using same-store data, Sidecar reveals that the number of desktop-to-mobile shopping paths almost tripled year-over-year. Specifically, the path of shoppers beginning the journey on desktop and completing it on mobile jumped by 259%.

By contrast, while the number of mobile-to-desktop journeys also increased, these paths grew by a modest 16%.

Sidecar attributes the growth in mobile conversions to retailers “prioritizing their mobile purchase experiences, including boosting mobile site speed and implementing one-click purchase.” (More on mobile site speeds here.)

2. The Upshot? Mobile’s Share of Revenues Grows

Given the rising comfort with mobile conversions, it’s not surprising that revenues would skew more towards the smaller screens. Indeed, mobile phones’ share of retailers’ Google Shopping revenues increased by 19% points at the expense of tablets (-11%) and desktops (-8%).

Interestingly enough, while tablet share of revenues declined, tablet return on ad spend (ROAS) saw the greatest growth of any device, up by 46%.

All told, mobile phones grew to exceed 40% share of Google Shopping revenues in Q4 2017, the first time it had passed the 40% mark for these retailers. Mobile phones almost matched the revenue share for desktops, which declined to a minority share of revenues in late 2017 for the first time.

Overall, mobile devices (phones and tablets combined) collectively accounted for a majority of Google Shopping revenues.

3. Guess Who? It’s Amazon

One of the primary retailers taking advantage of Google Shopping ads? Amazon. While its impression share in key verticals was rather modest to begin the year, Amazon invested more in Google Shopping during the year, peaking at more than 60% of impressions in the House and Home vertical in September.

Similarly, Amazon’s share of impressions peaked at about 50% in the Pet Care vertical in June, and at just over 40% in the Sporting Goods vertical in September.

Not bad for a retailer that already hogs more of consumers’ online time than all of the other top 10, combined.

For smaller retailers looking to compete, Sidecar recommends keeping an eye on mobile, which has far lower CPCs than desktop.

4. Performance Benchmarks: Electronics Among Tops for Return on Ad Spend

As part of its report, Sidecar has provided a host of Google Shopping benchmarks across verticals. Here are some highlights on the top performers in 2017:

  • Average Order Value (AOV): Automotive ($222), House/Home ($205), and Jewelry ($200);
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Automotive (1.55%), Toys/Hobbies (1.42%), and Pet Care (1.32%);
  • Conversion Rate: Health/Beauty (3.91%), Pet Care (3.81%), and Mass Merchant (3.43%);
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): Toys/Hobbies (10.25), Electronics (10.13), and Automotive (8.34);
  • Year-over-Year ROAS % Change: Pet Care (+189%), Health/Beauty (+40%), and Toys/Hobbies (+40%).

The full report is available to access here.


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