Zappos.com, Wal-Mart at the Top of the Class in Paid Search for Back-to-School
As kids head back to school and promotions begin to wind down, AdGooroo has examined back-to-school (BTS) paid search advertising over the last month, analyzing U.S. Google desktop text ad and product listing ad clicks on 278 non-branded BTS-related keywords from July 29 through August 27. Included among the BTS keywords we analyzed were terms such as "back to school," "school uniforms," "school backpacks," "text books," "school supplies" and "best laptops for college."
Zappos.com Tops Text Ads
The top text ad advertisers on the BTS keywords we studied highlight the importance of this shopping season for a broad range of retailers.
Apparel and footwear retailers were prominent among the top BTS advertisers for traditional text ads, promoting both school uniforms and general fall school clothes. Zappos ranked No. 1 in clicks among all advertisers, generating an 8.3 percent share of total text ad clicks on the BTS keywords over the 30-day period. Apparel retailers Lands’ End (3.2 percent click share), Burlington Coat Factory (3.1 percent), Gap (1.9 percent), Old Navy (1.7 percent), Nike (1.5 percent) and L.L.Bean (1.4 percent) also ranked among the top 25 advertisers by clicks.
Mass retailers/department stores, advertising items ranging from school supplies to backpacks and school uniforms, also figured prominently in BTS text ads. J.C. Penney ranked No. 3 overall with a 6.2 percent click share, while Wal-Mart ranked fifth, gaining 4 percent of all clicks. In addition, there were four other mass retailers among the top advertisers: Amazon.com (2.6 percent click share), Target (1.6 percent), Kohl’s (1.3 percent) and Zulily (1.2 percent).
School supplies was another key product area, led by office supply giant Staples, which ranked second with a 7 percent click share, followed by SchoolSpecialty.com, a B-to-B retailer targeting school supplies to schools and teachers, which ranked fourth with a 5.9 percent click share.
Of course, because of the variety of products covered in the BTS keywords we studied, an advertiser’s percentage of clicks on the entire keyword group can at times be misleading. For instance, Microsoft and Dell generated a 2 percent and 1.7 percent click share, respectively, on the entire 278 BTS keywords we studied. However, when analyzing BTS keywords focused solely on computers and printers, Microsoft and Dell achieved a 33.3 percent and 31.6 percent click share, respectively.
Product Listing Ads Led by Walmart
Wal-Mart led in product listing ad (PLA) clicks, generating an 8.6 percent click share on the BTS keyword group from July 29 through August 27. Wal-Mart has consistently ranked as the top PLA advertiser in a variety of categories AdGooroo has studied since the beginning of 2016. The appearance of close rival Amazon in the second position with a 6 percent click share may signal a threat to Wal-Mart’s PLA dominance. For years Amazon abstained from advertising on Google’s PLAs, but began testing the ads in categories such as toys and home goods in early 2017.
Specialty retailer DiscountSchoolSupply.com (5.1 percent click share), apparel retailer Justice (5.1 percent) and Dell (4 percent) rounded out the top five.
In addition to Wal-Mart, Amazon and Dell, Barnes & Noble (3.5 percent click share), J.C. Penney (2.6 percent), L.L.Bean (2.2 percent) and Target (2.1 percent) appeared among the top advertisers on the keyword group for both text ads and PLAs.
Despite having quite different business models, e-commerce platform Wish.com (3.9 percent click share), backpack seller BagsInBulk.com (3.3 percent), handmade and vintage retail marketplace Etsy (3.2 percent), deal site Groupon (3.1 percent), and wholesale bulk retailer AllTimeTrading.com (2.8 percent) all showed PLAs for school supply kits among other items.
Best Buy gained a 2.5 percent click share on the total keyword group, focusing on laptops in its ads. Isolating PLA activity on BTS computer and printer keywords, we found Dell and Best Buy leading with 33.1 percent and 16.5 percent click share, respectively.
Jim Leichenko is the director of marketing at AdGooroo, a Kantar Media company, and a provider of search marketing intelligence.