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Retail Marketers, from Associates to C-Level, Are Split on Ad Platforms. Here’s Why.

Retail Marketers, from Associates to C-Level, Are Split on Ad Platforms. Here’s Why.
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What ad platforms do retail marketers want to spend more time on? This was an important question at Sidecar E-Commerce Marketer Survey 2021, and it revealed interesting disparities when looking at the data by job role, from colleagues to C-suite.

C-level respondents prioritized Google’s paid search ads, or text ads, at 65%. Participants at the assistant and manager level chose Amazon (37%) and Instagram ads (37%) as their platforms of choice. On the other hand, marketers at the manager and VP level prioritized Facebook (52%). Interestingly, the group at the peer and manager level gravitated toward emerging advertising channels, including TikTok and Snapchat, more than their peers.

Ostensibly, it appears that experience may play a role in the preferences of retail marketers. C-level marketers may appreciate Google’s paid search because it’s one of the most established platforms, with more than two decades of performance data to guide spending. Conversely, marketers who may be early in their career are gravitating towards more emerging ad platforms which they are often tasked with learning from, such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

I think channel preferences go in a bit more depth. The job roles we surveyed appreciate the various stages of the shopping journey, which I believe is reflected in the channels the participants chose. Marketers interested in reaching new audiences may gravitate toward social advertising, while marketers with lower sales often appreciate platforms such as Google Shopping and Amazon Advertising.

In fact, all of these advertising platforms can play an important role in the advertising mix of retail marketers, and depending on the sales needs – filling the funnel, nurturing leads, or converting – some channels may require more time and budget than others. At Sidecar, we’ve seen that regardless of platform, developing actual cross-channel strategies that span the entire shopping journey leads to better outcomes for our customers than isolated digital advertising.

Target search intent into the full conversion path

Search ads, especially text ads and Google Shopping ads, can target every stage of the conversion funnel thanks to accurate keywords and audience targeting.

A Sidecar customer serving the specialized racing drone market and first-person view provides an excellent example of a full-fledged research approach. With the drone market relatively small, the retailer saw an opportunity to educate shoppers about this technology and establish itself as a thought leader in the field.

For text ads, the retailer offers a quote on educational search queries such as “What are FPV drones?” and direct shoppers to informational landing pages. Then, on Google Shopping, these same shoppers retargeted and leveraged high-intention keywords and brands to increase their ROI at the bottom of the conversion funnel.

After the first three months of implementing this full-path approach, the retailer saw an increase in return on ad spend (ROAS) of 41% for its text ads and 125% for its shopping ads.

Nurture and convert new audiences on social networks

Social networks play an important role at the top and middle of the conversion funnel, and when combined with search advertising, they can drive engagement and sales for retail marketers. One sidecar customer, an outside retailer, increased ad revenue by 196% year-over-year after combining insights from search and social ad campaigns.

Using dynamic ads to a broad audience on Facebook, the retailer expected users to create a list of shoppers who had never visited their website. After increasing this list on Facebook, it retargeted these new shoppers with Google Shopping ads to nurture them towards a purchase. The retailer has also pulled retargeting listings from Google Shopping to reengage site visitors on Facebook. As a result, Facebook’s ROAS is up 123% year over year.

Arrested for selling in the markets

Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart are valuable platforms for high volume sales and going through excess inventory. Additionally, retailers can tap into markets to gain new customers and increase brand awareness, one Sidecar customer realized.

This retailer sells medical devices that require a prescription, but Amazon does not allow these types of products to be sold or advertised on its platform. The retailer also sells accessories for medical devices that customers often need to replace, and these products are allowed to be sold. The retailer has budgeted for its accessories business on Amazon, which has allowed it to tap into a new customer segment and increase brand awareness.

At the same time, it advertised its medical devices on Google and Bing. Shoppers who may have discovered the retailer through its accessories on Amazon can purchase from the entire catalog of medical devices via Google and Bing Ads. As a result of cross-channel advertising coordination, the retailer increased its return on ad spend on text ads by 62% year-over-year. Amazon ads surged in the first six months of this strategy, with orders increasing 664%.

Everything is connected

Two customer journeys aren’t exactly the same, and the successes we’ve found vary by industry, company size, and goal. We’ve seen one constant, though: Coordinating advertising strategies across multiple marketing channels amplifies sales due to the nature of modern online shopping.

Shoppers regularly navigate social media, search engines, and marketplaces, providing data-rich insights into their shopping cravings and interests. Without a unified marketing strategy, it is difficult to use this full range of data. Retailers should not only have a presence in these different channels but should utilize them in a unified way to achieve their goals. Silent data and siled marketing are no longer an option.


Chris Corrado is Chief Customer Officer at Sidecar, part of my quarter. He is a member of the company’s senior leadership team, overseeing the division of customer strategy managers and analysts who help retailers excel in search, social advertising, and marketplace.

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