A 3.7% rise in search ad spend during Black Friday was fuelled by a 35% lift in spend on product ads offered by Bing and Google, according to new research.

Advertising software group Kenshoo conducted a review of its US clients’ paid search activity to find a noticeable increase in budgets dedicated to product listings, which feature away from organic entries on the two search engines. 

On mobile, the lift in spend on product ads was even greater – the total rising 85% year on year to account for 10% of all search spend during November 27. 

This was more than search spend on mobile in general, which increased 64% compared to Black Friday 2014. 

In-depth ads

Product ads are becoming key assets for both Google and the Microsoft-owned Bing. Research from the former shows that 64% of shoppers turn to their search engine for a spot of inspiration, which stresses the need for advertisers to be there when they do.

At face value, product ads can help the user visualise what they’re buying, while brands enjoy being able to present a picture on a text-heavy page.

News of the 35% rise in spend over Black Friday may be of interest to Facebook after the site launched its own Product Ads feature earlier this year. Such moves have helped establish the social network as a key player in the paid channel space, where it can leverage its 1.4 billion-strong global user base to attract advertisers.

Thanksgiving presents opportunity

Kenshoo observed a hefty increase in mobile search spending over Black Friday, but the proportion of clicks to come from smartphones was actually higher on Thanksgiving, a day earlier. 

Separate data from IBM fires this home, showing that Thanksgiving outscored Black Friday in terms of its percentage of traffic from mobile by 59.81% to 57.19%.  

Interestingly, search spend as a whole rose 19.6% on Thanksgiving versus the 3.7% on Black Friday, but it may be that budgets are still higher on what continues to be one of the key US shopping dates.

Adobe’s Digital Index reports spend of $1.73 billion for Thanksgiving, 22% over last year, while Black Friday saw its total rise 25% to $2.72 billion

This is said to have caused a decrease on in-store spending, which on Black Friday of this year fell to $10.4 billion from $11.6 billion in 2014, according to figures from research firm ShopperTrak.