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Play Ball! The Search Marketing Field for Baseball Merchandise

Published: April 24, 2014

Author: Lori Weiman

With baseball season underway earlier this month, we wanted to dive into our ad monitoring platform to analyze keywords surrounding baseball merchandise. It’s a fun time of year to be a baseball fan, so we were looking for interesting trends in baseball merchandise searches and how advertisers were taking advantage of them.
Our Ad Monitoring Analysis:

-Pulled two Search Monitor reports: 1) Keyword Report, which provides metrics such as ad rank and frequency for any set of keywords,  and 2) the Vertical Spend Report, which provides vertical-level spend and click benchmarks for 1,239 groups
-Looked at ads running on 5 focused baseball merchandise keywords: baseball hats, baseball caps, baseball jerseys, mlb hats, mlb merchandise. Notice we included three non-branded terms and 2 branded ones
-We chose the first two weeks of April 2014 for our keyword analysis and looked at February 2014 for spend and click analysis
-Looked at activity on just Google in the U.S. to keep it simple, although we could have also looked at Yahoo and Bing as well

A Few of Our Hypotheses:
1) We would see a very focused group of advertisers on this keyword set, with MLB at the top; 2) We would also see a fairly high CTR on these ads due to the devoted nature of sports fans at this time of year.
What We Found:

baseball keywords

Keyword Frequency Chart: We first looked at how often ads ran for our set of keywords during the first two weeks of April (opening day was March 31, by the way). Not much surprising here, except that searches for ‘baseball hats’ jumped nearly 50% from April 5th to the 14th. That was clearly the most popular keyword in our analysis.

mlb keywords

Rank vs. Frequency: Next, we looked at the top three advertisers in terms of ad rank and frequency. But, we narrowed our keywords to analyze just the two branded terms for MLB.
We saw an interesting scenario. MLB’s shopping site had a 100% frequency for the two branded terms. The MLB section of Fanatics.com, however, scored an 88% frequency and an even better average rank.
It’s likely that these two sites are working together to sell MLB merchandise, which would make sense given that Fanatics.com uses the MLB trademark in their domain. Lids.com, meanwhile, also posted very respectable rank and frequency numbers for these two terms, but not as high as the two leaders.
At The Search Monitor, we understand the power of two websites working together (the affiliate model), but we also help advertisers monitor for affiliate compliance, since those relationships need close and constant attention.
vertical spend
Clicks & Spend: Lastly, we looked at our Vertical Spend Report to analyze two sports gear categories: Team Hats & Caps and Team Jerseys. We wanted to see typical performance data for these two baseball-related groups. The data above come from our Lighthouse competitive monitoring product, which pulls benchmarks such as number of advertisers, ad share, rank, reach, clicks, and spend data for 1,239 product categories.
We learned that there are more advertisers for the jersey category versus hats (1,288 vs. 944), ad reach is higher for jerseys (17.1% vs. 13.3%), and average ad rank and CTR are about similar. We also learned that jersey ads pay a higher CPC and monthly spend, and get almost four times the number of clicks to their sites as a result. We would have thought these two categories of search ads would have been more aligned, but then again, the much higher price point for sports team jerseys means advertisers can afford to spend more per click and per month.
Anything surprise you in this data? Let us know if you’d like us to analyze another vertical of search marketers for you. We like to stay timely, so next we will focus on search marketing trends for Easter and Mother’s Day products.

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