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Amazon Steadily Growing Google Text Ad Presence during the Holidays as Shopping Presence Shrinks

Amazon appears to be taking different paths for different formats when it comes to holiday paid search strategy.

As I wrote prior to the holiday season, over the last couple of years Amazon’s paid search presence has started to expand with Cyber Monday but typically peaks later in the holiday season, as based on its presence in Google Auction Insights reports.

For the first time since Google monetized Shopping, however, Amazon is now bidding on Product Listing Ads during the holiday season. This introduced a new wrinkle into what Amazon’s strategy following Thanksgiving might be.

Taking a look at Google Auction Insights data, it appears that Amazon has taken diverging paths with the two ad formats.

Text Ad Impression Share Rising per Usual

Looking at Amazon’s Google Auction Insights text ad impression share against the median Merkle retailer from a sample of large advertisers, we find that, much like the past couple of years, the e-commerce giant appeared to start getting more aggressive on Cyber Monday, denoted by the green line. The black line indicates Black Friday.

Amazon 2017 Holiday Text Ad Imp Share

As you can see, Cyber Monday was the first day in which Amazon impression share surpassed 35% since the beginning of November, and its impression share has only continued to climb since.

However, we see quite a different trend when looking at Shopping Auction Insights.

Amazon Shopping Presence in Decline

The below chart features Amazon Shopping impression share using the same sample of advertisers as above. Amazon’s presence in Google Shopping has remained isolated to only a couple of product categories, including home goods and athletic apparel.

Amazon 2017 Holiday Shopping Imp Share

Amazon’s impression share in these auctions began declining in mid-November, bottoming out on Thanksgiving Day. While there has been a bit of a rebound since then, Amazon’s presence is still trending meaningfully below what was observed in early November.

Given that the vast majority of advertisers are getting more aggressive with bids, it’s difficult to say exactly what Amazon is doing. It could be the case that its bids have remained steady since before the holiday season and others are just pushing passed it, or that Amazon is pushing bids but just not as much as everyone else. It could also be that Amazon has actually pulled back on these ads relative to Q3 and early Q4 levels.

Regardless, this is somewhat of a relief to advertisers competing against Amazon in these auctions.

Why would Amazon get more aggressive on one ad format while its presence slips in another? That’s an impossible question to answer from the outside, but it will be interesting to track this development through the last two weeks of holiday shopping.

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