The largest US election ever in terms of raw voter turnout captured the attention of many Americans as vote counts and results dragged on throughout the week. Naturally with so much attention being paid to such a huge event, interest in other topics shifted as well.
In Google search performance across hundreds of Tinuiti retail advertisers active on Google and Amazon, we found meaningful dips in retail demand on election day and the immediate aftermath, followed by a quick rebound later in the election week.
Election Day Brings Dip in Google Retail Searches and Conversions
Taking a look at how retail conversions trended during election week, we found that retailer Google Shopping and text ad conversions fell 6% on election day relative to the week prior. However, conversions recovered throughout the rest of the week.
The dip and recovery in conversions across Tinuiti retailers was primarily driven by shifts in click traffic from ads. This indicates that shoppers weren’t searching for retail goods as often on Election Day and the day after, but ramped up retail queries in the back half of the work week and into Saturday, when clicks were up a whopping 17%.
Conversion rate, the number of conversions attributed to ads divided by the number of ad clicks, held roughly steady across ad formats and device types throughout the week even as click volume fluctuated.
A decline in retail searches relative to prior weeks isn’t shocking given the surging interest in other types of searches during the election. For example, query volume for ‘election results’ surged throughout election day night and peaked at around 6 am the day after.
With so much interest focused on such a specific event, demand even slipped for the biggest online retailer – Amazon.
Amazon Advertising Performance Trends Very Similarly to Google Search During Election Week
Google Trends also shows a dip in interest for the search term ‘amazon’ during election week, with interest bottoming out at just about the same day and time that interest for ‘election results’ was peaking.
Much like in the case of Google Ads, clicks and sales attributed to Amazon Sponsored Products tumbled during election day and the day after relative to the week prior, but quickly recovered towards the end of the week and into the weekend.
While it might be tempting to guess at what election results-driven emotions drove consumers to pull back on retail searches during election day or ramp up later in the week, it’s likely the case that consumers were just returning to normal habits after having their attention pulled away for a couple of days. With the potential for a second stimulus bill as well as other political events (particularly given that the current president has not yet conceded at the time of publication), it’s possible that online retailers will see unforeseen performance shifts around other days later this year as well.
Brands should be ready to react to shifts in performance quickly to identify opportunity and/or avoid wasted ad investment. For example, regularly checking search query reports to ensure ads aren’t being triggered for searches related to current events which aren’t relevant to the advertiser’s business.
While it’s been said many times and many ways, 2020 is a year unlike any other. Add the largest election ever to the list of firsts impacting digital marketing performance.