Top Paid Search Advertisers, Thanksgiving Through Cyber Monday

To gauge the top advertisers in Paid Search over the key Thanksgiving weekend shopping period, AdGooroo examined Text Ad and Product Listing Ad spend on 2,856 top retail keywords (based on ad spend) for U.S. Google Desktop/Tablet and Mobile Search from Thanksgiving, November 27, through Cyber Monday, December 1.

Note: The results in this report are limited to activity on the 2,856 retail keywords discussed above; advertisers cited in this report may be sponsoring additional keywords that, if measured, would alter the report’s figures.

Thanksgiving Weekend Top Paid Search Advertisers

As indicated by previous AdGooroo research, Best Buy has a particularly strong Product Listing Ad (PLA) program, which has put it ahead of its competition in Consumer Electronics and general paid search advertisers as well. We were therefore not surprised to find Best Buy topping the ranking with $1.9 million in Paid Search spend, including $1.4 million devoted to PLAs. (Despite this robust effort, however, Best Buy may not have been able to fully capitalize on its resulting traffic due to reported site outages on Black Friday and Saturday.)

Walmart ($1.2 million), Kohl’s ($902,000), Target ($889,000) and Amazon ($837,000) rounded out the Top 5 positions.

Newer Brands Making a Splash

While the Top 20 ranking includes many of the customary large retail brands, there were also less expected advertisers on the list. Jewelry retailer, James Allen, for instance, ranked #15 with $230,000 in total spend, outgunning larger, better known jewelry sellers such as Blue Nile ($83,000), Tiffany ($64,000) and Zales ($41,000).

Another newer retail brand making the ranking is AliExpress.com, owned by Chinese ecommerce giant and IPO sensation, Alibaba Group. Although the site’s $158,000 in Paid Search spend likely did not generate anywhere near the reported $9 billion the company took in on China’s Singles’ Day earlier in November, it may be representative of a new, concerted effort by the company to gain a foothold in the U.S. market. For example, AdGooroo data shows that AliExpress.com averaged $5,000 in total monthly Text Ad spend on U.S. Google Desktop/Tablet in the first ten months of 2013 and $133,000 per month during the same period in 2014.

Spend by Paid Search Medium

Thanksgiving Weekend Percentage Spend PPC Medium

On average, the Top 20 Paid Search advertisers spent 52% of their Paid Search budget on Desktop/Tablet Product Listing Ads, 39% on Desktop/Tablet Text Ads, 7% on Mobile PLAs and 2% on Mobile Text Ads.

PLAs vs. Text Ads

Given their colorful product graphics and front-and-center product prices, Product Listing Ads would seem to be an ideal medium to reach Holiday shoppers on the search engines. And the Top 20 advertisers appear to agree, devoting 59% of their Paid Search budget to PLAs on Desktop/Tablet and Mobile compared to 41% spent on Text Ads for Desktop/Tablet and Mobile. In dollar figures, the Top 20 spent $5.8 million on Desktop/Tablet PLAs compared to $4.5 million on Desktop/Tablet Text Ads and $811,000 on Mobile PLAs compared to $253,000 on Mobile Text Ads.

The lopsided spend on PLAs was not ubiquitous, however. Eight of the Top 20 advertisers spent more on Text Ads than Product Listing Ads for Desktop/Tablet Search, while 3 of the Top 20 spent more on Text Ads than PLAs in Mobile Search.

(Not) Going Mobile

Mobile Search may have a lot of industry buzz but spend on the medium lags far behind Desktop/Tablet Search. Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the Top 20 advertisers spent 10 times more on Desktop/Tablet PLAs and Text Ads than on Mobile PLAs and Text Ads on the keywords studied ($10.3 million vs. $1.1 million).

Some advertisers hardly invested in Mobile Search at all. Lowes spent only $300 on Mobile Search during the period compared to $81,000 spent on Mobile Search by archrival Home Depot. And Zulily.com, the flash sale site for moms’ and kids’ merchandise, spent only $1,000 on Mobile Search, despite the fact that it reportedly generates half its sales from mobile.