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Case Study: Paid Search Marketing Still Offers Solid Black Friday Advertising

paid search marketingAs marketers prepared for Black Friday 2016, they wondered what would be the best approach to take for paid search marketing. Would PPC text ads be the correct choice to show the millions of shoppers who would be buying televisions, kitchen appliances, and hundreds of other products online? Should they place their bets on PPC shopping ads, which have become more popular and are predicted to bring in more sales since Google removed text ads from the right side of search results? Further guesses about the holy grail of PPC advertising for the ultimate shopping day, which now has become a weekend, included the ideal keywords that would bring in the money.

Many retailers followed predictions and did it right, scoring big on Black Friday and Cyber Monday revenues. One retailer bucked the current PPC trend and still made a killing over the 3 days (some consider Thanksgiving now a 4th) that have now become associated with Black Friday shopping.

Case Study: Amazon’s Paid Search Marketing

Throughout 2016, experts predicted that PPC shopping ads (also called product listings) would dominate search. Part of the reasoning behind advice to opt for product listing spend in place of text ad spend as an ad strategy originated from Google’s decision to remove PPC text ads from the right frame of SERPs. Anyone familiar with Google Shopping listings knows that Amazon doesn’t pay for these ads. Nearly everyone who buys anything online realizes that Amazon is a retail giant. Given predictions for PPC shopping ads to propel companies to riches, would Amazon participate? If it didn’t, and it stuck to its past and present PPC strategy, could it cash in as big or bigger than the competition on Black Friday?

E-commerce superstar Amazon reported after Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2016 that these two days were record level shopping days for the company. In the middle of the day on Black Friday, the Seattle-based tech giant said that it was already on pace to surpass its Black Friday sales from 2015 in terms of number of items ordered. This is with the corporation sticking to its tried and true strategy and opting to only purchase PPC text ads.

Amazon’s decision to focus on paid search marketing shows us that text ad spend still offers solid Black Friday marketing strategy and strategy for sales throughout the year.

The Challenge

Going into the Black Friday weekend, retailers have several decisions to make. They can utilize a PPC text ad campaign or a PPC shopping ad strategy, or they can divide efforts between the 2. And, it’s possible to target keywords in these campaigns for Retail Product Keywords (individual product keywords like TVs, cameras, and popular toys), and there are choices to zero in on more specific keyword groupings like Black Friday-related keywords and Cyber Monday-related keywords. Amazon chose to strategize for Retail Product Keywords, Black Friday-related keywords, and Cyber Monday-related keywords only, ignoring expert opinions to optimize for PPC shopping ads.

The Results

Analysis of the top 2500 Retail Product Keywords, 161 Black Friday-Related Keywords, and 70 Cyber Monday-Related Keywords for the Black Friday retail period of 2016 showed that there was a significant shift in spend from PPC text ads to PPC product listing ads, as compared to the same period in 2015. The same data suggests that advertisers who sponsored the 2500 Retail Product Keywords for the Black Friday 2015 period had an ad spend of $15.4 million on Google desktop text ads in the United States, and those that sponsored Google product listing ads in the United States for Black Friday 2015 had an ad spend of $2.9 million. For 2016, Google desktop product listing ad spend in the United States increased to $9.6 million and Google desktop text ad spend in the United States was bumped down to $8.9 million.

Despite the jump in ad spend for PPC product listings during the Black Friday weekend, and without Amazon participating in these types of campaigns, the mega retailer dominated Black Friday sales and had record level days for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It earned the highest percentage of text ad click share for keywords related to Retail Product Listings and it came in 3rd for keywords related to Cyber Monday. The company did not rank in the top 10 for text ad click share for keywords related to Black Friday, but that could be part of its strategy to focus on long-term product sales instead of competing in the here-it-is-there-it-went Black Friday shopping frenzy.

There is validity to paying attention to trends while keeping eyes, and budget, on strategies that have proven themselves over time. Softline Solutions knows the importance of a solid paid search marketing campaign that can work as part of an overall successful SEO strategy. The world of SEO and PPC marketing is constantly evolving. We can help you decide on the best plan for bringing revenue to your business.