Case Studies

How MVMT Watches Uses Google Ads To Sell $80M/Year

3 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 27 August 2019

Watches have become very hot again in the last few years.

Brands like Rolex, Omega, or Breitling have been around for a long time. I’m not a watch guy, but apparently, these watches start at $500-$1,000 and go up for the fancier models 🤑

That’s a lot of money, which is what triggered the two founders behind MVMT. Since they couldn’t find stylish watches that wouldn’t break the bank, they would do it themselves.

So that’s what they set out to do with MVMT: sell stylish watches at a lower price point.

That turned out to be a good bet. In 5 years, they went from 0 to $80M in annual sales.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at the part Google Ads plays in generating that revenue.

The MVMT Business

Both of MVMT’s founders had prior ecommerce experience, and one of them had launched a successful crowdfunding campaign.

So that’s exactly how they launched MVMT: an Indiegogo campaign that raised $300,000 in 50 days.

That showed they were onto something, and it gave them the breathing room to start building their business. (A strategy we’ve seen for a couple of brands in our Google Ads Aces series.)

mvmt homepage

In 2016, MVMT did $60M in revenue. In 2017 they had projected revenue of $90M. But in 2018 revenue was only $80M.

These are still impressive numbers, but it means they missed their 2017 revenue target. Which probably means growth has tapered off.

That’s mainly because of more competitors coming into the watch space.

(Sidenote: If you’re interested in this space, be sure to read this hilarious guide on how to start your own minimalist watch brand 😂)

The main reasons why the business had seen such growth was the focus on building a great brand, executing that perfectly on Facebook (organic and ads) and later branching out into other channels Instagram and YouTube, as we’ll see below.

This rapid growth attracted the attention of acquirers, which resulted in a sale of the company in October of 2018 for $200M.

That concludes the backstory, now let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers! Traffic Analysis

During July ’19, the MVMT watches website got 1.17M visitors.

mvmt website traffic july 19

Website traffic to – source: Similarweb

These visitors came from all over the world, with almost half for the USA:

mvmt website traffic geography july 19

Breakdown of traffic by country to – source: Similarweb

The traffic sources are also a mixed bag:

  • Search: 40%
  • Direct traffic: 31%
  • Social: 25%
  • Referral: 2.5%
  • Display: 2%
  • Email: 1.5%

When it comes to social, Facebook still drives 52% of all social traffic while Instagram only clocks in at about 3%. They do have a big following on both platforms.

Interestingly YouTube drives 40% of the social traffic, which works out to about 117k visits /mo. Since the MVMT YouTube channel is pretty small, a lot of those clicks either come from paid ads or other channels promoting the brand to collect affiliate commissions.

Of the search traffic, 75% are organic visitors and 25% are paid visitors.

Which amounts to about 117,00 visitors.

MVMT Google Ads Campaigns Overview

Here is an overview of what MVMT spent on Google Ads during July 2019:

Ad Spend Clicks CPC
Search Ads $99,800 99,800 $1.00
Shopping Ads $26,060 15,420 $1.69
YouTube Ads $12,586 3,648 $3.45
Display Ads $12,586 27,969 $0.45
TOTAL $151,032 146,837 $1.03

Source of these numbers is Semrush, Spyfu, Similarweb and our own ecommerce benchmarks collection.

Google Search Ads

MVMT is advertising in a lot of different markets.

mvmt paid search per country july 19

Paid search traffic by country to – source: SEMrush

The US makes up about 40% of all paid ads with Australia and Canada both taking another 7%.

The rest is spread across a lot of different markets: Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Netherlands, etc.

None of the ads are translated into the local language, which makes managing those foreign campaigns a lot easier, but also less effective.

Branded paid search 

Top 10 branded keywords (sorted by traffic they bring to

Keyword Monthly searches CPC Clicks
mvmt 135,000 $0.30 6,345
mvmt watches men 135,000 $0.27 6,345
mvmt watches 90,500 $0.23 4,235
movement watches 40,500 $0.34 1,903
mvmt com 27,100 $0.33 1,273
mvmt watch review 22,200 $0.50 1,043
mvmt watches women 18,100 $0.34 850
mvmt watches review 8,100 $0.68 568
mvmt sunglasses 8,100 $0.27 380
mvmt discount code 2,900 $3.64 136

Source: SEMrush

From this list, it’s clear that they started selling mens watches. “Mvmt watches men” gets 10x the searches vs women.

They only started selling women’s watches a couple of years in, so that’s definitely an area they can further grow in.

Next are the huge search volumes for reviews. There is a lot of BS in the watch industry. So it is interesting to see that MVMT is capturing so much of the traffic to expose them to their own reviews.

Interesting to see “mvmt sunglasses” in spot #9. This is a new product category that was only launched last year, but it is already well searched for.

Search Advertisements

The ad below shows up for a core brand search: “mvmt”:

mvmt paid google search ad

Not a bad headline.

That “Official Website” works well, especially since there are a lot of other sites (like Amazon) that are selling MVMT watches.

“The MVMT is More Than Watches” and “No Longer Just a Watchmaker” allude to other products, but what these are isn’t clear from this ad.

But since this ad is appearing for their brand (and people already know them), it spikes the curiosity and gets a click. On a generic search, this probably wouldn’t work.

To celebrate their anniversary, they customized the ads, clearly indicating the sale and a 26% discount.

mvmt special anniversary promotion

Search Ad for MVMT’s anniversary promotion

As the promotion came to an end, an extra line pushed the urgency a bit harder.

mvmt special promotion search ads

This is a pretty good tactic to squeeze everything out of your promotion. But it might come at the expense of more focused ads (that get a higher CTR).

Their ads also show how to do ad group level sitelinks well.

Here are the sitelinks for an ad that appeared for “mvmt”:

mvmt ad extensions sitelinks

Sitelink extensions that appear below a Search Ad

These promote the main product categories: men’s and women’s watches and sunglasses.

And highlight one of their best-selling watches: the Chrono.

A search for “mvmt watches” shows the following sitelinks:

These add an interesting feature to people thinking about a mvmt watch: “Interchangeable Straps” into the mix.

Landing pages

All of those top keywords use the homepage as the landing page.

This is ok for core brand searches, but if people are looking for things like “mvmt sunglasses”, it will be less efficient.

Sometimes that’s done because the category pages aren’t very conversion focused (or don’t tell the brand story). But in this case, I think those pages do the job well:

mvmt sunglasses category page

MVMT has probably tested this, but I think it’s something to reconsider.

Non-branded paid search 

Top 10 unbranded keywords (sorted by traffic they bring to

Keyword Monthly searches CPC Clicks
mens watches 301,000 $1.47 14,147
watches for women 90,500 $1.69 4,253
blue light glasses 90,500 $3.01 4,253
sunglasses for women 40,500 $1.61 1,903
glasses 246,00 $5.38 1,230
women’s watches 22,200 $1.54 1,043
black watches for men 14,800 $1.98 192
gunnar glasses 12,100 $0.80 568
cheap watches 12,100 $0.77 568
rose gold watches for women 9,900 $1.36 465

Source: SEMrush

MVMT is advertising on some very high traffic keywords.

Men’s and women’s watches seem like a good fit if they can make the numbers work. (Check the Scoreboard section to see if they can!)

But there are others in the list which are quite a stretch for them to get right.

Let’s start with “blue light glasses” at $3 per click.

mvmt search ad blue light glasses

MVMT Search Ad for blue light glasses

Which lands here:

mvmt landing page blue light glasses

MVMT landing page for blue light glasses searches

This landing page is ok, but as soon as you click through on a product, the “blue light” angles disappear completely.

Compare that with Warby Parker that has a special landing page for these clicks:

warby parker landing page blue light glasses

Warby Parker landing page for blue light glasses searches

And it pops up again during the checkout:

warby parker checkout upsell

Warby Parker upsell in their checkout

MVMT has neither which makes it harder for them to effectively convert these searches.

The “gunnar glasses” are the only competitor in the list. They are mainly focused on gaming-specific blue light glasses, so it is interesting to see MVMT trying to compete for a different segment of the market.

Another super high volume keyword is “glasses” at $5.38 per click.

It’s clear they want to expand into another product category, glasses are a huge business after all. But it would be interesting to see how well they can leverage their brand to compete against the likes of Warby Parker.

MVMT Shopping Ads

During the research into MVMT’s Google Shopping Ads, I noticed a couple of interesting things.

A search for “watches” triggered the following ads:

shopping ads for watches

Shopping Ads for “watches”

Pay close attention to the name of the store (in green):

This is also the name of the Google Merchant Center account.

A search for “mens watches” showed the following ads:

mvmt shopping ad

MVMT Shopping Ads with different Google Merchant Center account

Note the different store name in green: “MVMT”.

That means that they are delivering ads from two different Google Merchant Center accounts.

A different GMC account can be used if you’re selling in multiple countries, but in this case, both ads were targeting the US.

On the surface, that might not look like much, but it got my interest 🙂

I discovered that the “MVMT” account is MVMT running its own Shopping Ads.

The Shopping Ads that appear with the “” account are run by a shopping aggregator called Connexity.

The way they work is as follows: MVMT uploads its product feed to Connexity’s platform, which distributes to comparison search engines like Google/Bing.

This is an approach some brands will use to expand their reach at a low overall cost. You can see that the product listing ad for “watches” only appears in the 9th spot, likely a bit cheaper than positions 1-5.

Besides Connexity, MVMT is also featured in the Shopping results through Amazon, where it sells, and other retailers running ads for MVMT watches:

mvmt shopping ads list view

The different vendors of MVMT watches with Shopping Ads

Since all properties are essentially controlled by the company it would be interesting to see what kind of optimizations they do to maximize profit and limit ad spend.

This could potentially allow them to show in more ad slots than they could do on their own. Another example of that on a search for “sunglasses for men”:

shopping ads multiple google merchant center accounts

Shopping Ads with multiple google merchant center accounts

One last interesting example of this double GMC account is this result:

shopping ads product feed accuracy

Identical Shopping Ads with price differences

The product in the pink box is identical to one where the arrow is pointing.

But one of them has a 29% lower price! This could be the remains of a promotion where the product feed hasn’t been updated to reflect that new price.

If MVMT is paying Connexity on a cost per sale (or affiliate) scheme, the results above could be pretty poor for them. Clicks would move to the “cheaper” ad and cost them more than if the same purchase happens through their own ad.

MVMT YouTube Ads

MVMT puts a lot of effort into their brand and movement right.

In this section, we’ll take a look at how they use YouTube Ads to accomplish this.

The brand only has 23k subscribers on its YouTube channel. But it’s top 10 most watched videos all have view counts of over 340k, which indicates they are running ads.

mvmt youtube channel

The most popular videos on the MVMT YouTube channel

I’ll cover the different advertising formats that MVMT is using.

Skippable video ads

These are the most common ad format on YouTube. MVMT uses them in combination with its remarketing audiences:

mvmt skippable youtube video ad

A skippable MVMT video Ad

These product-focused ads are shown to people that have visited the website. The ad links straight to the product page of the watch in the advertisements.

What’s remarkable is that these videos are more than 3 years old. The fact that they are still running a campaign with them, shows the power of developing strong creative.

Similar to the other campaigns types, the YouTube ads aren’t limited to the US. These remarketing ads also show in the UK, Australia, Germany, and Canada.

YouTube Display Ads

MVMT also uses another ad format on YouTube in their remarketing: Display ads.

These are static ads that show as recommended video in the top right when a video is playing:

mvmt display youtube ad

MVMT display ad on YouTube

This specific ad links to a video on the channel.

TrueView Shopping Ads

MVMT also runs TrueView Shopping campaigns to retarget website visitors. This ad format is a mix of YouTube video ads with Google Shopping results:

mvmt trueview shopping ad

MVMT TrueView Shopping Ad

The way to set that up is to start a regular YouTube campaign and link it with a product feed.

Here how that looks in Google Ads:

google ads trueview shopping campaign

Setting up a TrueView Shopping campaign in Google Ads

Google Display Ads

Similar to the Google Shopping Ads, the MVMT Display Ads are being served via a couple of different networks.

In my own research, I mostly found ads being served via Criteo or straight via the Google Display Network.

Similarweb confirms this.

mvmt google display ads networks

Different advertising networks that MVMT uses – source: Similarweb

In this pie chart, Microsoft Atlas refers to the Facebook ads part run through that platform.

Types of display campaigns

They are running both dynamic and static remarketing campaigns.

An example of a dynamic banner ad served via Criteo:

mvmt google display dynamic remarketing banner

Dynamic remarketing banner for MVMT

And a regular static remarketing banner served via GDN:

mvmt google display static remarketing banner

Static remarketing ad for MVMT

💰The MVMT Scoreboard

Money time!

The Scoreboard is the part where we pull together all the research and look at how much money MVMT is making (or losing) with their Google Ads campaigns.

MVMT Gross margin

To get a sense of their gross margins, we take a look at the main competitors of MVMT.

Here are the two big players in the watch industry:

  • SWATCH: 44% (Q2 2019)
  • Fossil Group: 50-57%

I think the gross margins of MVMT will be very similar. They sell a lot directly through the site (high margin sales), but have also expanded selling on Amazon (which takes a cut of revenue) and wholesale to other retailers (higher volume but lower margin).

So in what follows, I’m assuming a 45% net margin.

MVMT Average order value 

Most of the watches on the site range from $95 to 150. So it’s likely that their average order value also is in that range.

Let’s say $100.

Besides the watches, there are also other products and interesting upsells like interchangeable straps. (Check this presentation to see the design and CRO process behind those upsells).

mvmt product page upsell

Upsell additional straps on the MVMT product pages

To start, we put in all the numbers from this research, and assume that all of the gross profit is spent on customer acquisition:

mvmt average order value

At a customer acquisition cost (CAC) of $45, MVMT makes $335,626.67 every month in revenue and $0 in profit.

A company without profit doesn’t get acquired for $100M, so let’s see what happens if we decrease that CAC.

mvmt customer acquisition cost

Now I’ve lowered the CAC from $45 (on the left) all the way to $4.5 (on the right).

It’s a very competitive market, so to be safe I’m staying on the lower side.

In what follows I’m assuming MVMT has a customer acquisition cost of $27 (60% of gross profit). At that level, the company generates $560k in sales which results in $100k gross profit.

MVMT lifetime value

Lifetime value depends on the repurchase rate.

Their own research showed that their audience purchases a new watch every 2-5 years. And since top ecommerce companies usually generate more revenue from repeat customers compared to new customers, they need something to survive in between those purchases.

That’s the role of additional products like new straps and new categories of products like sunglasses or regular glasses.

Those increase the likelihood that someone will purchase again.

So here is the impact repeat purchases have on the profitability of the Google Ads campaigns:

mvmt repeat purchase rate

The repeat purchase moves from 0% (only one sale per customer) on the left to 50% (half of all customer purchase again) on the right.

The actual dynamics of repeat purchases are more complex but this gives a pretty good idea of the profitability.

In the pink box, I’ve picked the scenario that seems to be most likely. $151k in ad spend turns into $671k in revenue, a ROAS of 4.4.

And that means MVMT generates $151k a month in gross profit.

That’s it for our teardown of the MVMT Google Ads campaigns!

What did you find most surprising in this analysis? Let us know in the comments!

Read our other breakdowns: Purple – Judy –  AwayAllbirds – GlossierRitualCarawayFIGS

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


3 responses on "How MVMT Watches Uses Google Ads To Sell $80M/Year"

  1. Rodney Lover says:

    100 million was too much to pay for a company making a million a year. Now I’ve seen MVMT billboards around. Good luck Movado.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Rodney,
      Just to clarify; this $151k (or about $1.8M per year), is just from Google Ads.
      I’m guessing their gross profit comes closer to $20-30M. FB/Instagram, organic, email and affiliates picking up the bulk of the other revenue.
      It’s been impressive how they got here but do also wonder about the future potential that’s baked into that sales price.

  2. ali ft says:

    Thanks, I used it

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