New Kenshoo Research: Pandemic Couldn’t Quell Holiday Tide as Digital Marketers Invested Heavily in Q4 to Engage Shoppers Across Channels

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The underlying factors varied, but Q4 year-over-year growth outpaced previous quarters even in areas relatively unaffected by pandemic downturn

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Even in the midst of a prolonged pandemic that created a challenged economy, advertisers remained hyper-focused on the traditional holiday push

Kenshoo (, a global leader in marketing technology, today released The Kenshoo Q4 2020 Quarterly Trends Infographic, detailing Q4 digital advertising spending and performance. Spending on social (39%, 61%), paid search (32%, 32%) and ecommerce (78%, 71%) ads increased year-over-year (YoY) and quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) as marketers invested heavily for the holiday shopping season.

October Kicked Off an Early Holiday Push
Traditionally, advertiser spending ramps up in November to coincide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the pandemic effects on the supply chain prompted an early push from advertisers who encouraged early shopping. Paid search (40%), social (50%) and ecommerce (105%) showed the biggest monthly YoY spending growth in October.

CPG Reigns in Ecommerce
The CPG-heavy categories of Beauty & Personal Care and Food & Groceries stood out as key drivers of year-over-year spending growth for Ecommerce Channel Ads.

Other key ecommerce metrics across all ad types:

  • Impressions increased 127% YoY and 55% QoQ
  • Clicks increased 71% YoY and 57% QoQ
  • Click-through rate declined 24% YoY and remained flat QoQ
  • Cost-per-click increased 4% YoY and 9% QoQ

Higher Prices Affect Social Spending Growth
The shape of the spending trendline closely reflects that of social ad prices, particularly over the last six months. This suggests price fluctuations played a key role in social ad spending trends.

Other key social metrics across all ad types:

  • Impressions increased 30% YoY and 26% QoQ
  • Clicks increased 23% YoY and 31% QoQ
  • Click-through rate declined 5% YoY but increased 4% QoQ
  • Cost-per-thousand impressions increased 7% YoY and 28% QoQ

Greater Engagement Drives More Paid Search Spending
Click-through rate for non-shopping (e.g., keyword) search ads increased 27% compared to Q4 of 2019, and those additional clicks largely drove the spending increase over that same period.

Other key paid search metrics across all ad types:

  • Impressions increased 68% YoY and 35% QoQ
  • Clicks increased 54% YoY and 30% QoQ
  • Click-through rate declined 8% YoY and 4% QoQ
  • Cost-per-click decreased 14% YoY but increased 2% QoQ

“Even in the midst of a prolonged pandemic that created a challenged economy, advertisers remained hyper-focused on the traditional holiday push,” said Chris Costello, senior director of marketing research for Kenshoo, “Ecommerce Channel Ads led the way for Shopping & Retail advertisers, who increased average daily spend on the ad type by 66% for the entire season compared to the 2019 holiday, while the additional investment in paid search shopping ads and social product ads allowed those advertisers to reach consumers seeking to purchase gifts at all points in the process.”

Visit to view the infographic, or to explore all resources at Kenshoo’s Quarterly Trends Report research hub.

Analysis is drawn from a population of approximately $7B in advertising spend, comprising over 3,000 advertiser and agency accounts across 40 vertical industries and over 150 countries running on the Kenshoo platform on Google, Microsoft, Baidu, Yandex, Yahoo! Japan, Verizon Media, Amazon, Walmart, Apple Search Ads, Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and the Facebook Audience Network.

Except where noted in the report, only advertisers with 15 consecutive months of performance data are included. Some additional outliers have been excluded. Ad spending and pricing have been translated to USD at the time the spending was incurred.

About Kenshoo
Kenshoo is the leading marketing technology platform for brands looking to plan, activate and measure growth strategies across the most-engaging digital channels. Kenshoo offers the only marketing solution that combines data-driven insights and best-of-breed optimization to help make informed decisions, scale and measure performance across Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart, Roundel, Instacart, Apple Search Ads, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Verizon Media, Yandex, Yahoo Japan, and Baidu. Kenshoo’s machine-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence leverage market signals and enable companies to predict and keep pace with the omnichannel customer journey. Kenshoo has 16 international locations and backing by Sequoia Capital, Arts Alliance, Tenaya Capital, and Bain Capital Ventures. Please visit for more information.

Kenshoo brand and product names are trademarks of Kenshoo Ltd. Other company and brand names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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