2020 Google Ads Performance Benchmarks Report for Retail Now Available



MARCH 31, 2020

2020 Google Ads Performance Benchmarks Report for Retail Now Available

New Sidecar research analyzes Google Shopping and Google paid search campaigns of more than 300 U.S. retailers

PHILADELPHIA – Increased competition throughout Google Ads in 2019 prompted e-commerce retailers to rethink their strategies and find the white space, according to new research from Sidecar. The company published the research today in its 2020 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retail, its fourth annual comprehensive study on the retail sector’s performance in Google Ads.

2020 Google Ads Performance Benchmarks Report for Retail Now Available

The report analyzes Google Ads data from a representative sample of more than 300 U.S. retailers across 14 verticals that had active paid search and shopping campaigns for the full years of 2018 and 2019. Sidecar’s report looks at retailer ad spend, ROAS, conversion rates, AOV, CPC, and other key metrics, as well as seasonal shopping periods, including year-end holidays and back-to-school. The analysis took place in January 2020. Key highlights from the report include:

  • Retailers rose to the competitive challenge. Retailers grew more efficient in paid search, saving 8% on costs year over year, while driving similar revenue. Retailers were able to tick up Google Shopping revenue by 7% with a commensurate 7% increase in spend.
  • Retailer ad spend shifted. Google Shopping made up 80% of retailers’ budgets between these two channels, as it plays a growing role in converting bottom-funnel buyers. While paid search comprised the remaining 20% of spend, retailers are approaching these ads with greater granularity to efficiently attract shoppers at the top of the funnel.
  • Amazon’s Google Shopping impression share topped 60% for the B2B, house & home, and mass merchant verticals in Q3 2019. Amazon’s impression share declined slightly in Q4, letting retailers win back some exposure during a critical time of the year.
  • Amazon’s impression share moved slightly in paid search in 2019, hovering around 40% or lower for all retailers analyzed. Retailers in the health & beauty and house & home verticals saw Amazon’s impression share decline by approximately 7 to 8 percentage points in their segments over 2019. These findings show that paid search can be a valuable tool for retailers to cope with Amazon and other competitors’ presence on the paid SERP.
  • Prime Day offers retailers new opportunities on Google Ads. Year-over-year growth was witnessed in impressions and revenue across devices during the full week of Prime Day on Google Shopping. For shopping ads on mobile, there was year-over-year growth across key KPIs (4% for orders, 6% for clicks, and 13% for revenue). Additionally, paid search mobile ads saw significant gains with increases of 25% in orders and 28% in revenue year over year.

“Sidecar’s findings indicate key lessons for retailers to consider throughout 2020, especially amid the fluid environment created by the COVID-19 outbreak,” explained Mike Farrell, Senior Director of Integrated Digital Strategy at Sidecar. “2019 was more competitive than ever, yet retailers were able to successfully maintain revenue by adapting to the climate, focusing on their audience strategy, and prioritizing incremental growth, as opposed to massive increases. That muscle to adapt is the key for keeping businesses moving and supporting consumers throughout this period of volatility.”

Sidecar uncovered the following factors that impacted retailer performance in 2019:

  • Budget shifts – Retailers realigned Google Ads spend in 2019, prioritizing low-funnel activity on Google Shopping and retooling their paid search campaigns for cost savings.
  • Priority on efficiency – Retailers emphasized efficiency in paid search, in part by investing in less costly mobile ads, leading to similar revenue acquisition year over year.
  • Competition from Amazon – This competition lowered Google Shopping conversion rates across devices, forcing retailers to uptick spend to maintain revenue growth.
  • Emphasis on audience strategy – Retailers increased their focus on more granular audience targeting to better map Google Ads to all stages of the purchase funnel.
  • Unwavering attention on Google – Retailers maintained revenue from the longstanding Google Ads platform, and are seeking additional gains through newer ad platforms, such as Amazon and Pinterest.

Looking ahead, Google is certain to continue shaping its Google Ads platform to compete with growing and competitive marketing platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak remains a dynamic situation that will continue to force retailers to adapt. As retailers adjust tactics, target different audiences, and uncover new ways to meet consumer needs, they may land on approaches today that they find should remain in their strategies beyond the COVID-19 timeframe. New online shopping behaviors—such as increased comfort—may take hold and persist once the virus subsides. Adaptable marketing approaches, including those that retailers implemented in 2019, will support retail businesses amid ongoing changes.

Additional Resources

  • Download the 2020 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retail (graphs can be republished with credit to Sidecar; contact us for high-resolution versions of the graphs): https://bit.ly/3dwUzDw
  • View the infographic visualizing major findings (can be republished): https://bit.ly/2UlRlve
  • Watch Sidecar’s webinar recording, Preview of 2020 Google Ads Benchmarkshttps://bit.ly/3axQxcx
  • Download the 2019 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retailhttps://bit.ly/2wD5oU0
  • Watch the recording of Sidecar’s live broadcast, Adapting Retail Marketing to COVID-19 Impacthttps://bit.ly/39iWoRd


Sidecar offers performance marketing excellence to retailers and brands. Sidecar’s advanced technology and proprietary data, combined with years of performance marketing expertise, help its customers unlock the full potential of today’s most powerful search, shopping, social, and marketplace channels.


Mark Tordik
[email protected]

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