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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):
  • View the infographic visualizing major findings (can be republished):
  • Watch Sidecar’s webinar recording, Preview of 2020 Google Ads Benchmarks
  • Download the 2019 Benchmarks Report: Google Ads in Retail
  • Watch the recording of Sidecar’s live broadcast, Adapting Retail Marketing to COVID-19 Impact


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

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        Penn National Gaming’s Trials and Tribulations

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        David Williams probably never expected what would follow when he signed on with Penn National Gaming (Nasdaq: PENN) as CFO in January, to begin work March 3. The 20 year Apple employee, last as CFO of its Claris (formerly FileMaker) subsidiary, was probably looking forward to potentially booming times at the Berks County-based company, and the biggest problem managing growth. The gaming industry has been jumping with opportunities.

        Then Covid-19 hit the US and eventually led to shutdowns of most social gatherings spots, including on-premise gaming operations.

        Suddenly Penn National was facing a liquidity crisis. Earlier in March it drew down the remainder its $700 million revolving credit facility. The company has temporarily closed 34 properties across the country. It also announced that it has suspended the construction of $110 million Hollywood Casino Morgantown and the $120 million Hollywood Casino York in Pennsylvania .

        And it reached an agreement Friday to sell the real estate assets of the Tropicana Las Vegas for $337.5 million in rent credits, while maintaining operating rights. “While this transaction will help to relieve liquidity pressure in terms of rent obligations, we are committed to taking further steps to reduce our ongoing operating expenses in order to ensure we have a healthy business to return to when we are able to re-open our doors,”  said Penn National President & CEO Jay Snowden in a statement.

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        Angelo Stracquatanio of Apprentice
        Angelo Stracquatanio, CEO of Apprentice | Courtesy Apprentice

        Esther Surden

        Founder, NJTechWeekly

         March 23, 2020  Esther Surden0Emerging technologiesHealth TechInnovationNewsNJ Tech CompaniesStartupstech entrepreneurshipTech for Business,

        As Angelo Stracquatanio III, Apprentice’s cofounder and CEO, tells it, the first sign that pharma companies would need more access to the Jersey City startup’s product came in January, when he had to cancel a trip to China.

        “We saw very early on that this was going to have a much broader impact than what folks were reporting,” he told us.

        Apprentice, which provides an intelligent software platform to pharma companies, noticed that its customers were first canceling international travel, then domestic travel; and, finally, they were no longer allowing their employees to come to work at their local facilities.

        Pharma companies have offices and labs all over the world, Stracquatanio pointed out. When they stopped all travel, both domestic and foreign, the global supply chain began to grind to a halt. This happened “because now you can’t get vendors in to help troubleshoot or subject matter experts to fly in to help collaborate with their colleagues” on such things as “how do we ensure that we produce this job correctly?

        “It’s a fairly scary situation because if these facilities can’t continue to manufacture, it will lead to worldwide drug shortages. There’s going to be a potential supply chain impact.”

        Apprentice’s augmented-reality (AR)/artificial-intelligence (AI) system, called “Tandem,” can be used by organizations on the manufacturing floor, actually next to the equipment that is producing the drugs. “They can use our tool to then collaborate with vendors, subject matter experts, colleagues, engineering supervisors, whatever, who are at home or in another country, or just in a place where they just cannot physically get to the facility,” he explained.

        “It’s a fairly scary situation because if these facilities can’t continue to manufacture, it will lead to worldwide drug shortages. There’s going to be a potential supply chain impact.”

        Angelo Stracquatanio III, Apprentice

        When they saw the demand coming, the Apprentice team went into action. “We developed this concept called a ‘rapid deployment kit’ that we ship out to pharma organizations. We have everything pre-configured, preinstalled, pre-everything. And then they simply just turn it on, they get collaborating, and then they can continue to work with their operations team, no matter where they are in the world.”

        The kits are customizable and come with the enterprise-ready Tandem platform preloaded onto hands-free, clean-room-compliant, AR smart glasses and accessories. According to an Apprentice release, Tandem is the industry’s only compliant, language-independent solution that breaks the barrier between in-suite and out-of-suite collaboration, enabling troubleshooting and guidance, and ultimately reversing the devastating impact of this virus.

        “We’ve seen a huge uptick for this right now. As you can imagine, we’ve shipped devices literally from China to Japan, to South Korea, to every country in Europe at this stage, to help ensure that the supply chain stays open. If it doesn’t, there will be a secondary fallout for all of this that keeps me up at night.”

        Seeing “Unprecedented” Demand

        Stracquatanio said that Apprentice is shipping these kits to both new and old customers, who have reached out to his company at an “unprecedented rate and scale.”  New customers have come via word of mouth from existing customers, he noted. And, “We’ve had to — very, very quickly as a team — adapt all of our internal tooling to be able to quickly configure for each new customer. So, it’s been a rapid change internally as well because we’ve literally had to build internal software to be able to more efficiently configure these devices and software so that when they go out the door, they’re ready to go for a new customer.”

        The team’s ability to act on the opportunity is a hallmark of startups, which are generally much more agile than large companies. “It’s been a lot where we’ve had to adapt internally at like the light-speed to be able to deliver on this to help our customers through this really difficult time.”

        The Apprentice team of nearly 50 employees is working seven days a week to fulfill orders. “We finished a call last night at 4 o’clock in the morning. And we’re off again! It’s, it’s insane. We just know that every hour during this crisis counts. The whole team has bought into helping out our customers because we know it touches patients, right? We know that patients rely on those drugs that our customers produce.”

        Using Their Own Tool for Remote Communication

        Stracquatanio said that that the entire team has been working from home since last week. And how are they working remotely? “We use our own tool. The one that we’re shipping to our customers is the exact same tool we use to collaborate among ourselves all day long.”

        Apprentice has what it calls a “community 10” Tandem session going, which is open 24 hours a day right now. “Any member can pop into that session, scream out, you know, ‘Hey what do you think about this?’ This way we can continue the decision-making velocity that we’ve had in the past when we’re in the office, but we can do so just by yelling out to our counterpart on our on our own software on a Tandem session. It’s kind of cool how the team has adapted to it. It’s just kind of a continuation of our culture,” said Stracquatanio.

        “We have never seen this level of demand for both the product, as well as the use of the product,” he added. “The demand of selling is one thing. But the usage! We’ve never seen metrics like this before. If I could show you the graph, it’s literally 10 times of what it was just a few days ago. And it’s been exponential growth over the last several weeks.”

        Stracquatanio finds it exciting that the companies are using the product successfully. “From our perspective, we’re just trying to do our best to support them during this period because, at the end of the day, it’s about the patient. And if they can’t produce the drug, there’s going to be a lot of people impacted by this,” he said.

        “So, we just hope that we can continue to deliver, continue to execute, that our team stays healthy. My biggest worry as CEO is for my team to be healthy. And as long as the team stays healthy, and we keep executing, we’ll help our customers as best as we can, given the crisis.”

        About The Author

        Esther Surden

        Esther is the Founder and Editor in Chief of NJ Tech Weekly. This article is republished here with her permission.

        Esther Surden@njtechwkly·