Paid-Search Holiday Surprise For Retail As More Consumers Come Online

Money-Heap-BBoth paid-search spend and clicks rose this holiday season compared with last year. Marketers spent 128% more, driving up consumer clicks. In fact, clicks rose 87% on Thanksgiving Day compared with a year ago, according to Performics. Marketers spent 120% more to drive up clicks on Black Friday this year, to 65%. Cost per clicks (CPCs) rose steadily throughout the week, to 34% year-over-year on Black Friday.

Mobile comprised more than 20% of Google paid-search clicks on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, according to Performics. The company predicts that mobile paid search will make up 25.4% of all clicks -- both desktop and mobile -- in December 2011.

Online clicks and conversions rose even before Cyber Monday rolled in. Shoppers spent a combined $12.7 billion online from the start of this holiday season through the Black Friday weekend -- up 15% compared with the year-ago period, according to comScore. Black Friday saw $816 million in online sales -- up 26%, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011. Online sales on Thanksgiving Day, while traditionally a lighter day for spending, rose 18% to $479 million.

In a research note, comScore analysts explain the increasing influence of online marketing and promotions channels on offline shopping behavior, and how this year consumers turned to Black Friday sites on the Web to conduct research in advance of the day’s events. But I believe consumers have moved past the research stage and on to buying. As the story goes in last Friday's post, searching for deals and buying online online continues to become much more cost-effective as search engines become more adept at returning query results and retailers take advantage of being connected with consumers by serving up information that allows buyers to act at any given moment.

comScore analyzed several Black Friday deal sites for the five days from Nov. 21 through 25, 2011, compared with the year-ago days. Analysts found that bfads.net took the No. 1 spot with 3.9 million unique visitors, up 51%, compared with last year. TheBlackFriday.com followed with 3.2 million visitors, also posting the strongest year-over-year growth at 137%.

Amazon ranked No. 1 among online retailers during Black Friday, followed by Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and Apple. Fifty million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday -- representing an increase of 35% compared with last year. Each of the top five retail sites achieved double-digit gains in visitors versus last year.

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