From mid-June to Sunday, Amazon.com Inc.’s Google Shopping impression share rapidly rose as the retail giant boosted its investment in the Google ad format, according to digital marketing firm Merkle. But on Monday, the first day of Amazon’s two-day Prime Day sales event, the retail giant appeared to abruptly stop spending on Google Shopping ads.
Amazon—No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000—boosted its average impression share among advertisers focused on the home goods category to 70% in the latter half of June, when it announced Prime Day, from around 50% throughout April and May. Home goods has been the category where Amazon’s Google Shopping spending has been the most consistent since the retailer began testing Google Shopping ads in the final week of 2016.
But that trend came to an abrupt halt on Monday morning, according to Danielle Waller, Merkle senior manager, who tried and failed to trigger an Amazon Google Shopping ad for any product searches in home goods or across dozens of queries in key product categories such as electronics and novelty gifts.
It is not certain that Amazon completely pulled the plug on its Google Shopping spending because Amazon could not be reached for immediate comment. Plus, Merkle’s Google Shopping Auction Insights reports require a few days to populate with data. Meanwhile, Amazon continues to leverage Google text ads.
If Amazon did stop spending on Shopping ads on Prime Day, it would mark a more extreme version of an approach it took last year when its impression share was about 67% of its presence prior to the event. Because the event started at noon on July 16 last year, it’s possible the decrease on that day reflected Amazon shutting the program down midday. However, Prime Day deals ran for the entirety of July 17 across all U.S. time zones last year, and Amazon still had a significant impression share that day, which indicates it didn’t completely halt its Shopping campaigns during the event in 2018.
The battle between Amazon and Google
While it is difficult to know why Amazon would shut down its Google Shopping campaigns during its sales event, it may be to keep Google from gathering data on its products via Shopping ads, says Andy Taylor, Merkle’s director of research. The retailer may also be seeking to avoid overwhelming the site with traffic, which last year caused Amazon to crash.
Regardless of the reasoning, the move presents an opportunity to other retailers seeking to garner a share of the Prime Day halo effect, he says. A number of merchants, including Walmart (No. 3), Macy’s (No. 5), and Target (No. 16), are countering Amazon’s event with their own sales. Those efforts are expected to drive a 79% increase in online revenue during the two-day sales event compared with last year’s 36-hour Prime Day sale, according to a projection by Adobe Digital Insights. That would outpace last year, when retailers generated a 54% revenue lift.
“Amazon seems to be ceding ground to other retailers by withdrawing from Google Shopping,” he says. “That’s certainly a positive development for other advertisers hoping to cash in on the additional consumer interest Prime Day creates.”