Spending Growth Moderates Across Digital Channels in Q3 Compared to Last Quarter, but Still Robust, According to Skai Analysis

Advertisers continue to invest in digital ads across channels even as the most immediate effects of the pandemic continue to recede

Skai, — a leading commerce intelligence platform — is publishing its Q3 2021 Digital Marketing Quarterly Trends Infographic, an in-depth analysis of the digital marketing trends that defined the last quarter (Q3), with a full report to follow next week. The overall picture is one of continued growth despite the eventual slowdown of the pandemic recovery, as well as the threat of disruption from changes to targeting and measurement for social media ads.

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Channel Growth Continues in Q3
After the abnormally high, pandemic-driven growth across all channels in Q2, spending increases continued in Q3 at more moderate rates. Retail Media ad spend jumped 45% year-over-year (YoY) to lead the way, while Paid Search increased 32% and Paid Social was up 26%.

Price Increases Drive Overall Spending
Year-over-year price increases were a major component of spending growth for Paid Search and Paid Social. Social CPMs increased 34% YoY while average cost-per-click (CPC) for search rose 30%. Click prices were also up 21% for Retail Media ads, where click volume was also a growth factor.

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Social CPM Holding Steady Over The Summer
While Social ad prices were up sharply over the same period last year, there did not appear to be a major inflection point to coincide with the release of Apple iOS 14.5 in late April. Compared to the previous quarter, social ad prices only rose 3%, and Skai accounts were just as likely to see a decrease in Facebook ad prices during that time as they were to see an increase.

Mobile Search Keywords Close The Price Gap
Keyword search clicks on mobile devices have historically been lower than their desktop counterparts, but that is finally starting to change. Mobile keyword CPC grew 41% YoY, and were actually more expensive in Q3 than desktop keywords were a year ago.

Paid Social Leads The Way For Consumer Goods & Retail
Across all channels, Paid Social saw the biggest YoY growth when looking specifically at Consumer Goods & Retail advertisers, with spending up 50% compared to 45% for Retail Media. This segment only grew 18% for Paid Search, and overall investment in search shopping ads continued to slow as shopping activity started moving back offline in some categories.

Other findings include:

  • Retail media impressions were down 9% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) and up 1% YoY
  • Retail media clicks dropped 9% QoQ and rose 19% YoY
  • Retail media CPC rose 2% QoQ and grew 21% YoY
  • Paid search impressions declined 14% QoQ and were flat YoY
  • Paid search clicks were down 11% QoQ and grew 1% YoY
  • Paid search CPC increased 15% QoQ and rose 30% YoY
  • Paid social impressions decreased 6% QoQ and dropped 6% YoY
  • Paid social clicks were lower by 4% QoQ and were down 2% YoY
  • Paid social CPM rose 3% QoQ and increased 34% YoY

“We asked last quarter if the post-pandemic momentum across digital advertising would continue into the second half of this year, and it clearly has,” said Chris Costello, Senior Director of Marketing Research for Skai. “While we have seen some measures of engagement and online shopping cool off as society attempts to return to its normal offline activities, that has not put much of a damper on online advertiser spending. This bodes well for the fourth quarter, when we will see all of these different channels working together to support online holiday shopping.”

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