Double-digit growth in cost-per-click helped propel robust year-over-year increases in spending for retail media, and modest growth in paid search, according to Skai’s™ Quarterly Trends Report.

January 25, 2024 – San Francisco, CA – Today, Skai, a leading omnichannel platform for performance marketing, published its Q4 2023 Digital Marketing Quarterly Trends Report, an in-depth analysis of the digital marketing trends that defined the second quarter of this year, along with an interactive infographic detailing key analysis. The holiday season saw increased spending across key digital channels, with each of those channels taking a slightly different path to that growth.

Spending up across channels in Q4

The holiday surge drove quarter-over-quarter spending higher in all channels. Year-over-year (YoY) spending was up everywhere in Q4 as well, led by retail media at +27%, paid social at +15% and paid search at +4%. Skai is now including TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn in its paid social analysis, so growth rates may not be directly comparable to previous reports.

Ad prices, conversion rates up in retail media and search

Average cost-per-click (CPC) grew 18% in retail media and 13% in paid search over Q4 2022, but these increases were offset by conversion rates that rose by more than 10% in both channels. Higher conversion rates can lead to higher click prices as algorithms adjust to meet performance goals. The opposite can also be true, where higher CPCs drive better performance.

Race to the bottom (of the funnel)

Spending on product ads on Meta grew 70% from Q3 to Q4 and spending on sales-focused campaigns increased 63% as the lower part of the sales funnel activated in the holiday season. The new Advantage Shopping Campaigns Plus offering saw spending more than double QoQ in the format’s first full holiday season as part of this wave of lower-funnel spending in the channel.

Shopping campaigns evolve in paid search

Q4 saw a significant decline in impressions and clicks within the search channel, largely driven by the transition from legacy shopping campaigns to Performance Max. The newer ads suggest a change in targeting, ad inventory, or a combination of both, where fewer impressions with higher clickthrough rates and higher click prices result in similar overall spending trends.

Other quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) and YoY findings include:

ChannelMetricQoQ ChangeYoY Change
Retail MediaImpressions+22%+8%
Clicks+17%+10%
Spending+18%+27%
Cost-per-click (CPC)0%+16%
Paid SearchImpressions+26%-15%
Clicks+18%-8%
Spending+21%+4%
CPC+2%+13%
Paid SocialImpressions+14%+24%
Clicks+23%+3%
Spending+27%+15%
Cost per thousand impressions (CPM)+11%-7%

“The fourth quarter is always going to be primarily about the role of commerce media, and this year was no different. Advertisers continue to see the value of these programs and reward them with increased investment,” said Chris Costello, Senior Director of Marketing Research at Skai. “But while the role of commerce media is consistent across channels, the details in Q4 were very different. New ad products like Performance Max in paid search and Advantage Shopping Campaigns Plus in paid social have transformed those channels in ways we are just beginning to understand, while retail media has expanded into programmatic display to provide a more full-funnel approach. It’s an exciting time to be in this space.”

For more information and to view the infographic, visit skai.io/quarterly-trends-hub/

Methodology

Analysis is drawn from a population of approximately $9 billion in advertising spend over five quarters, comprising more than 3,000 advertiser and agency accounts across 40 vertical industries and more than 150 countries running on the Skai™ platform on Google, Microsoft, Baidu, Yandex, Yahoo! Japan, Verizon Media, Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, Criteo, Kroger, Apple Search Ads, Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. Except where noted, 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, where applicable. Skai makes no claim that these numbers are fully representative of the larger market.

About Skai

Skai is an omnichannel advertising platform, uniquely enabling brands and agencies to run data-driven programs across walled garden media. It empowers both media leaders and activation teams to drive impactful results from their advertising program with AI-powered decisioning, activation and optimization solutions. Its partners include Google, Meta, Amazon Ads, TikTok, Snap, Walmart Connect, Instacart, Criteo, Microsoft, Pinterest, Apple Search Ads, and more. For over 17 years, Skai has been trusted by an impressive roster of brands including Reckitt, Doordash, Sony, Philips, and L’Oreal. The company is headquartered out of San Francisco and Tel Aviv with eight international locations and is backed by Sequoia Capital, Arts Alliance, Tenaya Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Pitango, and Qumra Capital.