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Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday: Which Day Won Google Shopping?

One of the biggest stories coming out of the 2016 holiday season kickoff is the duel between Cyber Monday and Black Friday for online sales. We saw a similar trend within the Google Shopping channel: Cyber Monday generated only 6% more revenue than Black Friday, compared to 28% last year.

But Thanksgiving also had reason to take a seat at the table, pulling in the highest AOV and ROAS of the five-day period on Google Shopping. And we can’t forget Saturday and Sunday. How did they contribute to sales?

After analyzing 27.6 million user sessions on our customers’ e-commerce sites during Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, we came away with several key findings that underscore the rise of Google Shopping ads for retailers.

Google Shopping Growth YoY By Day

Google Shopping Growth YoY By Day for Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday 2016

Every day of the shopping period posted growth across major metrics. Black Friday generated the largest jumps in orders and revenue, highlighting the increase in online shopping during this day.

The overall surge in Google Shopping clicks could in part be due to some key updates Google rolled out in 2016—namely, the removal of text ads from the right rail of desktop SERPs, which has made Shopping ads more prominent in that real estate, and the addition of Shopping ads to Google image search.

Also noteworthy is the increased traffic on Thanksgiving and Saturday. The additional clicks proved to be quality traffic, converting 27% and 33% better than last year, respectively.

Daily Comparison of Google Shopping Results

Daily Comparison of Google Shopping results for Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday 2016

Cyber Monday reigned supreme when it came to Google Shopping revenue across the five-day shopping period—but as I mentioned, it was not by much, with Black Friday nipping at its heels.

Here’s also where we see Thanksgiving’s success. It won in terms of ROAS, which indicates retailers were most efficient with their budgets on Turkey Day. The holiday also had the highest AOV. This could have been fueled by the discounts and other incentives that many retailers offered for reaching certain spend thresholds, as well as the multitude of big-ticket items that were on sale, including TVs and other electronics.

Daily Conversion Rates on Google Shopping

Daily Conversion Rates on Google Shopping for Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday 2016

All daily conversion rates grew in Google Shopping this year, with Cyber Monday again clocking in at #1. This isn’t surprising—Cyber Monday is THE day when consumers are “supposed” to shop online. They have the benefit of the weekend to research products and deals, and can make their purchases as planned come Monday.

The conversion rate for the five-day holiday kickoff was 4.48%, compared to last year’s 3.84%. That’s a 17% jump, surpassing the 2% growth we saw in 2015. This suggests a few trends: Retailers are doing a better job of optimizing their product titles and keeping their data feeds updated to match what consumers are seeking, and retailers are providing better experiences on their product pages to compel consumers to buy.

Google Shopping Growth YoY By Device

Google Shopping Growth YoY By Device for Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday 2016

This was the first holiday kickoff when retailers could break out tablet and desktop bids, and anchor device-level bid adjustments to whichever device—desktop, smartphones, or tablets—they wanted. Our findings indicate that retailers successfully took advantage of these updates, as revenue and ROAS improved considerably across each device.

Mobile, however, posted the strongest gain. Several factors appear to be at play: With over half of Google searches happening on mobile devices, Google is prioritizing mobile-friendly content. Retailers appear to be responding with mobile-optimized Google Shopping campaigns and e-commerce sites.

In turn, consumers are feeling more comfortable shopping on mobile. They’re also spending more time on their mobile devices in general (an average of 2.8 hours daily in 2015, versus 2.6 hours daily in 2014).

Google Shopping Conversion Rates on Mobile

Google Shopping Conversion Rates on Mobile for Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday 2016

Taking a look at Google Shopping conversion rates at the device level, we found mobile converted at 3.23%, which is not only a strong number unto itself, it’s also 44% better than last year. Desktop converted at 6.68% and tablet came in at 4.84%.

Hourly Traffic on Google Shopping

Hourly Traffic on Google Shopping for Black Friday Cyber Monday 2016

When we examined hourly traffic, we found mobile clicks outpaced desktop clicks during the entire day on Black Friday and for most of the day on Cyber Monday. (These charts show desktop in terms of desktop computers and laptops, not tablets). Clicks peaked during evening hours, a prime situation for using day-parting adjustments to increase bids as traffic heightens, and decrease them as traffic falls.

The gaps between mobile and desktop clicks also widened at the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, suggesting that consumers prefer using their smartphones rather than their desktops or laptops during the evening, when they’re probably at home. It also shows the importance of device optimization to capitalize on different sources of traffic. (Get some tips on day-parting and device optimization here.)

Share of Clicks, Orders & Revenue on Google Shopping

Share of Clicks Orders Revenue on Google Shopping for Thanksgiving Black Friday Cyber Monday 2016

While consumers appeared to use their mobile devices heavily in their product research phase for the Thanksgiving – Cyber Monday weekend, they tended to shift to their desktops to place their orders. Tablets appear to have remained a small yet consistent influence in the purchase journey, suggesting that consumers view their tablets in equal measure as research and buying tools.

To sum things up: Within Google Shopping, the kickoff to the holiday season has become a two-horse race between Cyber Monday and Black Friday. But Thanksgiving is not far behind, and we could see it play an even larger role in 2017.

Last year, we saw significant growth in Google Shopping during Black Friday weekend, and throughout the entire 2015 holiday season. So far, 2016 is no different. Google Shopping continues to show that it is a powerful channel for retailers to capitalize on consumer shopping preferences and grow their holiday sales.

Tags : Average order valueBlack FridayClicksConversion ratesCyber MondayDataGoogle ShoppingHolidayholiday salesMobileOrdersrevenueROASSeasonalityTabletsThanksgiving
Matt Mariani

The author Matt Mariani

Matt is a Data Analyst at Sidecar. When he's not slicing and dicing numbers, he's enjoying a craft beer—but he won't forget to work it off at CrossFit.

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