One Year Later, We Ask: What Did the PS4 Do for PPC?

Ian O'Rourke Posted by Ian O'Rourke

When it debuted in 2013, Sony’s PlayStation 4 enjoyed the highest sales figures of any console launch in history, and online retailers scrambled to grab a piece of the pie through PPC advertising.

Who ended up asserting themselves as big players in the UK marketplace, and how have they fared in the last year?

Following the launch of Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) late last year, competition amongst retailers to capture the market soared, resulting in the most immediately successful console launch to date. The new PlayStation sold over 1 million units in the first 24 hours of its release in North America on 15 November, and then sold another 1.1 million over the following three weeks.

As of this September, less than one year after the console launched, sales stand at over 10.5 million units. These numbers pale in comparison to the PlayStation 2’s 155 million units sold since its debut in 2000, but times have changed.

The increased competition that the PS4 faces in the console arena from the likes of Microsoft and Nintendo makes it unlikely the system’s sales will ever rival the PS2’s.

Who Still Spends on PPC for PS4?

In the UK, Amazon and Game currently dominate the PS4-related PPC ad markets, with respective 62% and 30% shares of voice (SOV, measured in terms of clicks). Littlewoods, Argos, and Very are the other retailers that maintain a PPC budget to pull in PS4 customers.

A major appeal of PS4 PPC is the way that the system incentivizes customers to purchase other goods, such as the package from Carphone Warehouse, which currently offers a PS4 console and game as a bonus attached to certain contracts. Many other industry ads feature game bundles as well.

Who Comes Out on Top?

Game had the highest SOV in the pre-launch bidding, maintaining around 55% SOV when the competition was far less fierce. Of course, that all changed a few weeks later after the PS4’s release.

Game dropped to the third position on the 29 November 2013 launch date in the UK, while Amazon captured the highest SOV at 35% and Woolworths came in a surprisingly close second.

After the launch, Very entered the market and PPC competition subsequently increased. Very maintained an average SOV of around 20% between November 2013 and June 2014, at which point its SOV trailed off as Amazon’s gradually rose.

Littlewoods and Sale-Fire also entered the marketplace for search ads, each gaining around 10% SOV.

These changes in retailer SOV may have resulted from the severe product shortages brought on by massive demand. As retailers struggled to get the PS4 back in stock, they lost online traffic, which facilitated the positional shuffling over this timeframe.

Paid SOV

Spending Changes

Amazon pays a much higher price than its competitors for the number of clicks it attracts. The company racks up a cost of roughly 2 GBP per click, while Game’s is only 1 GBP per click for most ads. However, Amazon gets results out of its major investments.

The company has produced the most successful ad in the past month, spending an estimated total of 10,893 GBP on its dissemination between 28 September and 1 October alone, attracting 5,471 clicks.

Amazon also released the second-highest performing ad, using almost exactly the same text, but running it from 20 September until 19 October with similar spending and traffic totals.

Game had the third most successful ad, touting great deals on PS4 bundles. It used solely keyword insertion in its title, garnered 3,614 clicks, and cost the company around 3,700 GBP. The company produced a similar ad with comparable stats, yet it required a higher CPC and, therefore, ranked fourth.

Top Ads

How Has SOV Changed Over the Year?

In the year following the PS4 launch, the two major players in the PPC market have switched positions at the top several times, with Game starting out on top and losing ground to Amazon early on.

Game retook the number one spot for a short period in the second quarter of 2014, but Amazon reclaimed the lead in mid-May, remaining there for the rest of the year to date.

The two companies at times maintained around 95% of the share of clicks for online PPC ads related to the PS4, and they currently hold around 65% of the attention from online searches.

With these two industry giants firmly in control, the PS4 PPC market is here to stay for the time being. If their trailing competitors want to close the gap, we recommend utilizing Adthena’s market insight, ad copy analysis, and other tools to optimize their digital marketing strategies.

(Main image credit: Hobby Next/Flickr)

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About the author

Ian O'Rourke
Ian O'Rourke
Ian is the CEO and Founder of Adthena. After 22 years being involved in technology businesses and start-ups, he has driven Adthena forward since 2012 and it is now experiencing rapid growth. Ian likes to foster a culture of common sense and self-reliance at Adthena, and ensures everyone has the tools they need to succeed, His flair for innovation and business has been recognised with the Developing Entrepreneur Award at the WCIT Enterprise Awards – commonly regarded as the Oscars for technology entrepreneurs. A graduate of the University of Queensland, Ian is also a fluent Chinese speaker having lived and studied in Taiwan. He is married with two children and is an avid rock climber in his spare time.