Digital Ad Spending Continues Growth Trend into Q2, with Paid Search and Paid Social Both Accelerating When Compared to Low Point of Pandemic, Finds Skai

Retail Media spending growth remained strong with Prime Day providing an extra boost in June

Skai, — a leading commerce intelligence platform — is publishing its Q2 2021 Digital Marketing Quarterly Trends Infographic, an analysis of the digital marketing trends that defined the last quarter, with a full report to follow next week. The overall picture is one of growth as the momentum of the pandemic recovery continues to drive investment across the entire online advertising space.

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Search Hits New Highs
In Paid Search, spending outpaced Q2 2020 by 60%, the highest growth ever recorded by Skai. Elevated clickthrough rates once again helped drive the increase, although those rates started to trend slightly downward through the first half of the year. This 2021 trend, along with a slowdown in search shopping spend, may indicate that the urgency of online search for vital goods and services during lockdowns could be easing as cities and regions continue to reopen.

Social Pricing Increase Pushes Spending Growth
A 41% increase in CPMs compared to the same quarter last year drove an increase of the same amount for overall dollars spent in the channel.  Impressions remained flat year-over-year with a 10% dip from last quarter, possibly as a result of social advertisers having to adjust their media buying in light of data privacy changes on the Apple mobile operating system.

Retail Media Reigns Supreme, Prime Day Is a Key Driver
Ad spending on retail media networks jumped 55% over the same quarter last year as both the overall volume of clicks and the cost of those clicks increased. The month of June, which included this year’s edition of Amazon Prime Day, saw an increase of 61% versus 2020.  With the holiday season approaching and advertisers pushing to create a direct path to purchase, retail media spend will likely eclipse those June highs later this year.

App Advertisers Are Diversifying Dollars
App advertisers on the Skai platform appear to be diversifying away from Facebook, possibly a strategic move in reaction to data privacy changes which are impacting targeting and measurement models. In Q2 2020, 43% of spending for this category was allocated to Facebook, with 57% devoted to Apple Search Ads. That ratio has shifted with 22% of spend for Facebook this quarter – a significant change from how advertisers were budgeting just one year ago.

Click Prices Complete Pandemic Rebound in Search
Average cost-per-click for Paid Search ads was up both quarter-over-quarter (+17%) and year-over-year (+34%), and while the impact of those increases on advertisers is very real, this really marked a return to average prices from before the pandemic.

Travel Rebound Continues, Search Spending Spikes
Search spending in the travel segment took a big jump forward this quarter, up 74% from the previous quarter and more than 400% since the same quarter last year. While spending has not fully recovered from early 2020 levels, brands are recognizing consumers’ appetite for summer travel, making this a hot area to watch for future spending across Social and Search.

“Ultimately, we knew this quarter would look strong from a spending perspective, because this quarter last year was so tough on advertisers in both search and social,” said Chris Costello, Senior Director of Marketing Research for Skai. “The big question for the rest of 2021 is how that momentum can sustain itself when compared to the second half of last year, when the recovery was in high gear. The overall economy on the horizon still looks like the rising tide that can lift all boats, but virus variants could still make an impact.”

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