With the 2016 holiday shopping season in our rearview, it’s time to look at how online paid search sales fared for brands. Early projections from eMarketer indicated strong growth in ecommerce with retail specific ecommerce projected to grow 17.2%. This figure includes all digital marketing channels. Adlucent did a deep dive into sales growth from Thanksgiving through Christmas 2016 vs 2015 and found that paid search driven online sales increased 45%, and traffic rose 1.5x.
Paid search budgets rise and orders follow
In order for brands to capture more of this online holiday traffic, paid search spend increased 37% over the Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday weekend, and we saw a healthy lift in paid search budgets throughout the entire holiday shopping season. The investment paid off, netting a 56% increase in orders from Thanksgiving though Christmas, largely driven by PLAs and mobile.
PLA click share slips during BFCM weekend
During the full holiday season PLAs accounted for more than half of total click share at 54% vs 46% click share for text ads. This was not the case over the Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday weekend when text ad click share rose to 52% versus 48% for PLAs. We believe this is partially due to a push on Google's Expanded Text Ads (ETAs).
Mobile growth is up while desktop and tablet remain flat
As more consumers use their mobile devices to research, compare and purchase products, the physical and digital worlds continue to converge. In our pre-holiday survey, shoppers stated that they are twice as likely to make a purchase on a mobile device during the holidays, and that proved true. Mobile orders more than doubled (2.1x) during the holiday season this year compared to 2015. Mobile also accounted for the majority of traffic at 52% of total traffic, which is an increase of 11% when looking at device share of traffic YoY. This was our prediction in the post-holiday report last year, if you hadn’t already seen mobile overtake the top device spot for holiday traffic. Traffic share is followed by desktop at 36% and tablet at 12%, which is a decrease for each devices’ share of traffic YoY by 10% and 9% respectively.
eMarketer predicted that 2016 retail holiday sales via mobile devices would jump by 78%. Adlucent found that actual mobile retail sales driven by paid search increased by 90% YoY, thanks to the lift in mobile conversion rates (CVR) this year. While mobile CVR still trails desktop at 2.2% versus desktop at 5.9%, mobile experienced a 24% increase in CVR while desktop and tablet experienced small shifts.
For more details and stats from the 2016 holiday season stay tuned for our annual Holiday Discoveries Report to be released soon!