A Google user searches for a particular product, sees the corresponding product listing ad, clicks on it, and makes a purchase. Common sense would have us believe that this is normally the case. But, is this actually true? The following analysis shows that only in rare cases do users buy exactly what they were searching for. This insight calls many advertisers’ strategies into question.
Only about 25% buy what they’ve searched for
To answer this question, I’ve taken data from a large, international fashion retailer and used the product “Nike Air Max Thea” as an example.
Over the past few months, Shopping Ads for this product generated a total of 1,300 sales in Great Britain. However, only in 336 cases (which represent 25.8% of all sales) did the users actually purchase the Nike Air Max Thea shoe model in various colors. So, here, only one in four customers actually purchased what they originally sought out.
Only 6.7% purchased other “shoe” products
So far, so good, but what other products make up the remaining 74.2% of sales? Certainly other shoes, right? Far from it. To our continued surprise, only 6.7% of sales (86) were shoes in the broadest sense.
Here, I would have expected far greater shoe sales, as the search term implies that this is the user’s intention. The landing pages could possibly provide an explanation. Target pages for Shopping Ads naturally have a strong focus on a single product. If related products from a category or brand page aren’t easily reached through a gallery or site navigation, or if the related products aren’t relevant enough, the customer may return to the shop’s homepage and search within the site. Related product visibility may influence this change in the customer’s focus.
T-Shirts, Long-Sleeved Shirts, and Accessories are strongly represented
Among the most frequently purchased product groups are t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts, which make up a total of 17.7% of sales. These are followed closely by accessories (sunglasses, belts, hats, rings) with 16.9%. The remaining purchased products are divided up relatively evenly among outerwear tops (jackets, coats), bottoms (pants, jeans, leggings, dresses, and skirts), and other products which aren’t categorized as easily (bikinis, socks, cosmetics).
The bottom line
With my example, I’ve shown that on average, only one in four consumers buys exactly the product they search for. The other customers choose different products instead. So, what does this mean for advertisers’ strategies?
- Even low-inventory products should be advertised, since they can lead to additional sales.
- Reports in Google Shopping distort the reality of actual sales. A real top-brand analysis is only possible by looking at actual purchased products, not product ad clicks.
- It’s short-sighted to orient bids toward the margins of individual products, as, for example, our colleagues at Volusion suggest. Doing so assumes an exact match between ads and purchased products.
- Google Shopping is of limited use when it comes to steering sales of specific products.
What are your experiences regarding the relationship between search terms and purchased products? Do you agree with my analysis, or do you have other opinions? I look forward to your comments!