Pivoting Into Ecommerce Cautiously: What Marketers Should Know

How does campaign performance today track in comparison to one year ago? A recent report from Sidecar that analyzes a year’s worth of data provides insights for marketers as they map out the remainder of the year.

It also cautions that this year will be a bit different based on third-party cookie depreciation and privacy initiatives on platforms such as Apple, Google and Facebook.

Sidecar examined thousands of active ad campaigns for hundreds of U.S. retailers.

The campaigns ran on Google Shopping, Google paid search, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon. The analysts calculated average performance benchmarks by ad platform, retail segment, and monthly spend.

Retailers advertising on Google, Facebook, and Instagram had active campaigns for full-year 2019 and 2020. Amazon advertisers had active campaigns for the full-year 2020.

It’s important to note that all the campaigns were managed by Sidecar’s technology and team.

The analysis that took place in February 2021 for 2020 campaigns found Google Paid Search consistently served as a source of driving more efficient return on ad spend in 2020. Now in Q2 2021, marketers can use those findings to reexamine their paid-search goals to identify any opportunities to set stronger ROAS goals and adjust their spend.



During the research, Sidecar identified that Google Shopping experienced a 9% drop in the average cost per click (CPC), and 11% decline in the cost per acquisition (CPA).

The conversion rate improved by 3%, year-over-year (YoY), as clicks came at a lower cost to retailers.

The report attributes the numbers to a stable media channel.

In Google Paid Search, retail marketers spent more on high-converting terms and less on general keywords -- which paid, off causing conversion rates, click-through rates, and ROAS to jump 31% year-over-year. The CPC dropped 14% and CPA declined by 20%.

Apparent on Facebook, consumers gained confidence in shopping online last year, because they would interact with and purchase from businesses of all sizes. Five verticals were analyzed: apparel and accessories, automotive parts and accessories, house and home, mass merchant, and toys and hobbies.

In Q4 2020, Facebook reported about 1.85 billion active daily users, emphasizing just how much reach retailers have on the social channel.

The interaction by retailers and consumers led to an 18% drop in CPCs on Facebook, with a 9% drop for CPAs. ROAS improved by 29% for brands that participated in advertising on Facebook.

The average order value (AOV) rose by 18%, suggesting shoppers are more comfortable making larger purchases via Facebook ads.

Instagram recently has become a way for more retailers to drive conversions. The study shows Instagram ROAS improved by 11% year over year, while CPA fell by 5%.

Conversion rates for ads rose by 6% to reach 8.07% among the data Sidecar analyzed, an indication shoppers are growing comfortable purchasing products through social platforms.

Amazon findings were segmented by single- vs. multibrand retailers, monthly spend tiers, and monthly KPI performance for the full year 2020.

Single-brand retailers experienced a higher CPC -- $0.4 -- than multibrand retailers, which saw $0.24. CVRs for single-brand retailers were higher and CPAs was lower compared to multibrand retailers.

The high engagement rate, combined with lower CPAs could indicate stronger loyalty to single-brand retailers on Amazon, according to the report.

Amazon’s average of $0.39 CPC rate and $6.44 CPA rate were the lowest across all five channels examined, but they are rising quite a bit, up from $0.31 in January 2020 to $0.46 in December 2020.

The 7.95 ROAS retail average remained strong.

Another note, per Sidecar, retail marketers should account for seller fees on Amazon that could lower efficiency.

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