Google online paid-search ads drove sales up 13% year-over-year (YoY) through mid-November, but the U.S. Thanksgiving season showed strength in mobile advertising and product listing ads (PLAs), which remained the biggest growth drivers.
Google PLAs drove 65% of retail sales from non-branded Google search ads between October and mid-November. The increase, however, slipped on Black Friday -- mirroring seasonality from recent years. On Cyber Monday, PLAs produced a bit more than 59% of non-brand sales.
Thanksgiving Day sales driven by Google paid search rose 12% between 2015 and 2016. "There were a wide range of results, however, with the variability in growth rates from one retailer to the next running about twice as high as on Black Friday or Cyber Monday," wrote Merkle Senior Director of Research Mark Ballard in a blog post. "We saw a similar pattern last year and this phenomenon likely reflects the impact of differing promotional strategies from brand to brand."
Brands benefited from using PLAs as the shift from desktop to mobile continues. Ballard estimates that mobile traffic share peaked at 69% on Thanksgiving Day hitting 69% of search ad clicks. Phones produced 58% of clicks, up from 42% a year earlier. Tablets produced 11% of clicks, down from 17% in 2015.
Text ads continue to deliver for advertisers as well, as consumer search and shopping behavior changed after Thanksgiving. Text ad sales rose 16% YoY from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.