Higher ad prices played a role in growth across retail media, paid search and paid social while higher ad volume also factored into retail media and paid social, according to Skai’s latest Quarterly Trends Report.

April 30, 2024 – San Francisco, CA – Today, Skai, the leading omnichannel advertising platform focused on walled garden media, published its Q1 2024 Digital Marketing Quarterly Trends Report, an in-depth analysis of the digital marketing trends that defined the first quarter of 2024, along with an interactive infographic detailing key analysis. Topline growth numbers in retail media, paid search and paid social came in at similar levels to those Skai reported last quarter.

Spending up over last year and down from last quarter

Walled gardens in retail media, paid search and paid social continued to be an attractive proposition to advertisers as reflected by their investment patterns. On a same-account basis, spending increased year-over-year (YoY) in all channels even as quarterly spending dropped sequentially with the end of holiday seasonality. Over 50% of accounts increased spending by at least 5% over Q1 of last year in each channel, with two-thirds of retail media advertisers seeing such an increase.

Retail media scales up smoothly

With ad prices rising 15% YoY in retail media, there could be concern about diminishing returns in the channel. However, the resulting 24% increase in spending was matched by a 24% increase in attributed sales revenue from advertisers, yielding no change in overall return on ad spend (ROAS). Whether the catalyst for this CPC increase was a growing economy, an increase in the stickiness of ecommerce for consumers, or advertisers focusing their efforts on the channel, it has been part of a “virtuous cycle” of higher conversion rates that can absorb those higher prices and subsequently deliver more ad volume.

Performance Max maxes out adoption, despite spend continuing to grow

The share of Skai accounts running Performance Max campaigns has remained fairly flat over the last three quarters, even as the YoY spending on these ads has nearly tripled. The increase in spend helped propel total search spending up 6% over Q1 of last year, a growth rate two percentage points higher than last quarter. While PMax has been a boon for search spending, the transition from legacy shopping campaigns continued to drive fewer impressions and clicks, but at higher cost-per-click (CPC).

Paid social CPMs increased YoY for the first time since 2022

According to Skai’s data, year-over-year CPM grew for the first time since Q1 2022 while impression growth was the lowest since that same quarter, yielding spending growth of 17% overall and 8% for Meta. This may mark the end of the rapid CPM decline and impression growth over the last 18 months that have accompanied the transition to Outcome-Driven Ad Experiences (or ODAX) on the Meta platform, which has transformed ad inventory patterns and now comprises more than 80% of spending across Facebook and Instagram.

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

Channel Metric QoQ Change YoY Change
Retail Media Impressions -19% +9%
Clicks -16% +7%
Spending -18% +24%
Cost-per-click (CPC) -3% +15%
Paid Search Impressions -10% -10%
Clicks -15% -8%
Spending -20% +6%
CPC -6% +15%
Paid Social Impressions -5% +13%
Clicks -19% +5%
Spending -7% +17%
Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) -2% +4%

“As we head into 2024, most of the fundamental growth trends across digital channels from 2023 remain intact,” said Chris Costello, Senior Director of Marketing Research at Skai. “At Skai, we are still seeing broad-based growth across retail media, with similar contributions from all across the spectrum. Paid search spending has picked up slightly as the transition to Performance Max transforms the search shopping experience and the ad inventory that goes along with that. And finally, Meta ad inventory looks like it has stabilized after a long stretch of declining CPM and big increases in impression volume.”

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


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, Amazon Ads, Microsoft, Walmart Connect, Apple Search Ads, Instacart, Criteo, TikTok, Snap, Pinterest, Meta, and more.

For over a decade, Skai has earned the trust of notable brands such as HP, Doordash, Sony, Philips, and L’Oreal. Renowned for innovation and a values-driven culture, Skai is headquartered in San Francisco and Tel Aviv with eight international locations.

Visit skai.io for more information.