Update 5/7/2013: We just released the most awesome Product Listing Ads Guide ever. At more than 15,000 words it’s the most comprehensive guide on the planet. Best of all it’s completely free. 

Merchants Double Up On Google Shopping Traffic Between Q4 2012 And Q1 2013

Each quarter CPC Strategy compiles data on the top shopping channels such as Google Shopping, based on seller metrics including cost, revenue and traffic.

This quarter, we saw paid Google Shopping traffic double on a per client basis during Q1 2013 compared to Q4 2012.

From Q3 to Q4 we saw an 87% increase in traffic which was to be expected given the progression of the new program in conjunction with the Q4 holiday season–but what was surprising is the trend basically continued with an 82% increase from Q4 to Q1:

Google Shopping traffic doubles Q4 to Q1

x-axis represents the median amount of traffic a merchant received per week

Average Google Shopping Traffic Grows Twofold After The Holiday

When our CEO Rick Backus saw the Google Shopping traffic data, his initial comment was: “It’s pretty surprising to see the traffic double. That’s nuts.”

If you are in ecommerce, online marketing, or retail in general you’re familiar with the trend of purchases increasing during the holiday season, or Q4. Generally, shoppers purchase more leading up to and during the holiday season. Then during Q1, retailers typically see a decrease in sales.

As a result Google Shopping’s increase in traffic after the holiday is an unusual trend to say the least. During this same time period, costs also increased by 21%:

Google Shopping cost increase

Reasons Why Weekly Google Shopping Traffic Doubled From Q4 To Q1

So why did Google Shopping traffic increase so significantly following the holiday?

Google is ramping up its exposure of Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

How do we know this?

1. Since Google Shopping became paid, traffic has doubled each quarter.

2. Google has replaced their free placements with paid ads.

Since the transition of free to paid Google traffic, we’ve not only seen a spike in paid Google traffic, but also a corresponding major drop in free traffic as well.

Here is a look at how average (median) weekly revenue from free Google has compared to paid Google traffic since Q2 2012 (when all traffic was free):
Google Shopping free vs. paid traffic Q2 to Q4 2012 to 2013
The bad news is revenue that merchants were getting for practically free is basically non-existent.

 

The good news is the sky is now the limit for potential revenue.

3. The maturity of the Google Shopping program gives Google more information over what search terms from users should trigger PLAs. In turn this allows them to more accurately display product ads based on users’ purchase intent.

If you are an online merchant and you’re not listing on Google Shopping, now is certainly a time to take a look at the traffic growth data and consider it.

For those currently listing on Google Shopping, take the time to optimize your Google Shopping campaign ad structure and revisit your data feed quality.

About the AuthorTien Nguyen is a co-founder of CPC Strategy and deals with data feeds in his waking hours and often in his sleep. He spends his free time with Rubik's cubes while rooting for the underachieving Raiders and UCLA sports teams where he graduated with a mathematics/economics degree. See all posts by this author here.