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Search surges, social stabilizes in tail end of 2020 holiday season

Sr. Search Strategist Shawn Grenald contributed to this report.

Search and social advertisers tackled the 2020 holiday season by ramping up early and pumping up budgets in October and November. We crunched the numbers to see if the trends persisted into December.

In our analysis, which included both paid search and paid social (Facebook/Instagram), we compared year-over-year spend data from major eCommerce clients who are representative of 3Q’s full eCommerce portfolio. Just as in October and November, we saw advertisers pivot to make up for reduced levels of in-person shopping by increasing budgets to engage shoppers online. But there are major differences in paid search and social data worth exploring.

Let’s get started.

1) Paid social spend stabilized after election season; paid search spend and competition continued to grow

In November 2020, paid social spend increased by 36% compared to paid social spend in November 2019; December 2020 increased by only 5% over December 2019 spend as election-related advertising subsided. This is in stark contrast to eCommerce-related paid search spend, which followed a 66% year-over-year increase in November by increasing 64% from last December, thanks in part to a 54% year-over-year increase in CPCs.

2) Paid search performance kept pace with budget increases

Both conversion volume and conversion…

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