Phil Norris

Contributing Writer |

8 min read

How Shopify, Squarespace & Wix use display ads to fight for ecommerce supremacy

By 2027, global online sales are expected to surpass an eye-watering $8 trillion. So it’s no surprise that starting an ecommerce business consistently ranks as one of America’s most popular side hustles:

Of course, to start an ecommerce business, you first need a website. And if you don’t have the coding skills to create one from scratch, your best alternative is to use a website builder.

While there’s no shortage of options, not all are a natural choice for online store owners. But three solutions that definitely fit the bill are:

  • Shopify
  • Squarespace
  • Wix

Each of those platforms is dropping millions of dollars a year on display ads to win over the next generation of ecommerce entrepreneurs. So we decided to use Adbeat data to deep-dive into their advertising strategies and find out how they spend their money.

Let’s get into it…


Ad spend and networks

Over the last six months, Shopify spent an estimated $3.8 million on display advertising in the US, with a roughly 60:40 split between video and programmatic:

We were kinda expecting to see a big spending spike around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the year’s two biggest online shopping dates. Surely that’s when people are thinking about opening an ecommerce store?

But in reality, Shopify drops the majority of its display ad cash in March and April…

Source: Adbeat

…and (SPOILER ALERT) we saw this trend repeated by both Squarespace and Wix.

We’re guessing it’s to do with businesses shopping around for new technology partners at the start of the new financial year. Or maybe people are super keen to start an online side hustle after paying their taxes.


As we know, Shopify spends the bulk of its display budget on video ads, so it’s no surprise that YouTube is their #1 publisher:

Source: Adbeat

Their YouTube ads mostly appear on generic big channels like MrBeast and Bento e Totó, both of which have millions upon millions of subscribers. But we were amused and delighted to see that they dropped close to $190,000 on the channel of Wix, one of their biggest competitors:

Source: Adbeat

Outside of YouTube, there’s a distinctly techy feel to Shopify’s placements, which makes sense. You’ve got to have at least some interest in the online world if you’re planning to build an ecommerce site, after all.



Trust us: we look at a lot of display ads. But I can’t remember many better than Shopify’s. They clearly understand exactly who they’re targeting and why those people would choose the company’s website-building software.

As you can see from Shopify’s top three standard ads by spend…

…they effectively highlight the platform’s value proposition by focusing on audience goals and pain points like:

  • Monetizing your hobbies
  • Selling via multiple channels
  • Building an online store with minimal technical knowledge

Each of those ads is accompanied by a clear call to action prompting people to start a free trial. It’s all so simple and effective.


Shopify doesn’t do a ton of native advertising. But when they do, they again focus on key customer pain points like generating more online sales…

…and making it easy for ecommerce newcomers to launch their first online business:


So far, we’ve seen Shopify targeting a single audience: first-time online business owners. But things are about to change, because their video ads span the full spectrum of potential Shopify customers.

We’ve got ads targeted squarely at enterprise users…

…existing online store owners who want to expand their sales channels…

…and people who are just looking to make their first online sale:

There’s even an ad that targets all those groups at once:

Once again, it demonstrates that Shopify knows who its customers are and what they want to hear.

One more key point: pretty much all Shopify’s video ads carry the same “free trial” CTA. It’s so much easier to plan and execute an engaging campaign when you’re totally focused on driving a single action.


Speaking of campaigns…

Digging into Adbeat’s Campaigns view shines an even clearer light on Shopify’s display ad strategy.

We can see their biggest campaign (with an estimated budget of $1.1 million in the last six months) is designed to persuade would-be ecommerce entrepreneurs to build their first online store with Shopify…

Source: Adbeat

…while their second-biggest campaign is targeting enterprise-level retailers. 

And we can also see that the whole budget for their enterprise campaign was spent over just a couple weeks in March and April:

Source: Adbeat

Which explains the spending trend we mentioned earlier in this article. It’s all falling into place! 

Landing Pages

You’d expect a company that sells website-building software would know how to design a quality landing page, and Shopify doesn’t disappoint.

Interestingly, most of their top landing pages by spend are simply regular web pages, like their standard Enterprise and Free Trial pages. But they also have a bunch of dedicated landing pages that get rid of all the unnecessary clutter (like the navigation menus at the top and bottom of the page).

Let’s analyze one of those dedicated pages.

At the top of the page, we see some persuasive social proof — namely, the number of businesses that use Shopify — followed immediately by a lead capture form:

Below the fold, we’re given three clear, easy-to-understand reasons why we should build our online store with Shopify:

And, last but not least, Shopify hits us with a persuasive customer testimonial and another CTA button:

You’ve got to admire the simplicity of Shopify’s approach. They’re selling quite a complex tool, but they make it all so easy to understand — and there’s barely a buzzword in sight.


Ad spend and networks

Squarespace has a similar display ad budget to Shopify, spending an estimated $2.7 million in the US over the last six months. And they splash the cash at similar times, too, with a big upturn in spend during March and April:

Source: Adbeat

The only real difference is the channel breakdown, with Squarespace committing a slightly higher proportion of their budget to video and direct ads.


Given that two-thirds of Squarespace’s display ad budget goes toward video, you won’t be shocked to learn that YouTube is their top publisher. They mostly target big music channels like Bento e Totó and Dua Lipa — but, excitingly, they also dropped an estimated $57,000+ in just two days on Wix’s channel:

Source: Adbeat

Outside of YouTube, Squarespace spends a bunch of money advertising on The Noun Project, a stock photography and iconography website:

Source: Adbeat

Which makes sense — it’s exactly the sort of tool you’d be browsing if you were designing your own ecommerce store.

And, as you can see, there are some more generic, mass-market sites like and the New York Times.



Whereas Shopify is a dedicated ecommerce website builder, Squarespace and Wix have broader audiences: essentially, they’re targeting anyone who wants to build any sort of website.

Inevitably, this means Squarespace’s ads are a little less focused than Shopify’s. Sure, we’ve got Shopify-esque standard ads prompting people to turn their hobby into a business…

…but you’ll also find more generic creatives that mention designing “professional websites” rather than anything ecommerce-specific:


None of the website builders we analyzed do a lot of native advertising, but we can see that Squarespace generally sticks with its “professional website” messaging: 

In our view, it’s just not as compelling an offer as Shopify’s more targeted, ecommerce-centric pitches. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a broad audience.

On the plus side, their CTAs are just as clear and direct as Shopify’s, prompting would-be customers to “start your free website trial”.


Video makes up the lion’s share of Squarespace’s display ad budget, so let’s see where all that money goes.

Their biggest ad by far, accounting for approximately one-fifth of their total budget over the period we reviewed, is this 15-second version of Squarespace’s 2024 Super Bowl ad, starring and directed by Martin Scorsese:

Seriously, they got Scorsese to direct it? No wonder they want to show it off!

There are also some stylish six-second ads pitching Squarespace as the perfect ecommerce solution…

…plus this super slick number promoting the platform’s AI website-building tools:

All these ads are engaging, persuasive, and beautifully filmed. They’re certainly a cut above Squarespace’s standard and native ads.


It’s no surprise that Squarespace’s top campaign by budget is the Martin Scorsese ad, which has seen an estimated spend of $1.1 million to date:

Source: Adbeat

Beyond that big-money effort, Squarespace prefers to invest in evergreen campaigns highlighting the platform’s value proposition and benefits, such as the ability to build your own website in minutes.

Landing Pages

Again, no surprise here: Squarespace’s top landing page over the past six months is dedicated to their Super Bowl ad. And it’s excellent, so we’re going to take a closer look.

Above the fold, we see the title of the campaign and a CTA to watch the ad:

But things get more interesting as we start scrolling.

Immediately below the fold, there’s a making of video starring Martin Scorsese and his daughter Francesca, followed by a CTA inviting us to try out the website template from the ad:

That’s a clever way to draw a straight line between a high-profile, top-of-the-funnel ad spot and the practicalities of using Squarespace to build a website.

Then we’re presented with the key use cases for Squarespace, such as launching an online store and selling custom merch:

Next, we learn about the platform’s main features and benefits…

…before finally being presented with a free trial CTA:

It’s a superb demonstration of how you can build a sales and marketing funnel around a single big-budget ad. Well done Squarespace!


Ad spend and networks

You might be surprised to learn that Wix is the leading website builder in the world, with a staggering 43 percent share of the global market. Yet, from a brand awareness perspective, Wix is lagging way behind Shopify in the US:

Which probably explains why they’re spending so much more on display advertising in the US than Shopify or Squarespace — an estimated $36.6 million in the last six months, per our estimated data:

Source: Adbeat

And, as you can see, almost every cent goes toward video ads.


Approximately $35.8 million of Wix’s budget for the last six months was spent on YouTube, with the majority going toward huge, mass-market channels like MrBeast, Bento e Totó (yet again), and the hideous Crazy Frog.

Source: Adbeat

It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to buy a product that willingly advertises itself alongside the Crazy Frog, but presumably Wix knows what they’re doing.

Other top publishers include SignUpGenius, a tool that lets you build online sign-up forms free of charge:

Source: Adbeat

Easy to see why that might be relevant to potential Wix customers, right?



As we’ve already noted, the vast majority of Wix’s budget is tied up in video ads

Still, they do spend a little money on standard ads, most of which are targeted at web design agencies:

They clearly feel standard ads are an effective way to reach this niche B2B audience through industry-specific publications like Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal.


Nothing to report here: Wix hasn’t run a single native ad in the last six months.



Since late-October, Wix has run no fewer than six video ads with budgets of $2+ million. For context, Squarespace and Shopify only spent a combined $6.5 million over the same period.

Wix’s top video ad by spend, with an estimated budget of almost $12 million, was totally different to anything we saw from Shopify or Squarespace.

For starters, there’s the run time: it clocks in at close to two minutes, making it practically feature-length compared to Shopify and Squarespace’s top video ads.

The messaging is a radical departure too, focusing entirely on cybersecurity — something we didn’t even see Shopify or Squarespace mention. Clearly, Wix feels this is a major differentiator.

Surprisingly, they aren’t pushing for immediate conversions from their video ads. Many of their ads don’t feature CTAs at all — and even when they do, they encourage viewers to “learn more” rather than start a free trial.

We guess they just prefer the softly, softly approach.


Wix’s campaigns are largely evergreen, covering key platform features and use cases…

Source: Adbeat

…but they highlight the platform’s extreme approach to spending. Activity practically grinds to a halt from November to February, before picking up in a big way in March.

Landing Pages

When it comes to landing pages, Wix sends most ad clickers to their:

However, they do have a couple dedicated landing pages, such as this one prompting users to sign up for the platform’s free tools:

This page is all business, starting with an above-the-fold lead capture form and continuing with a bunch of key features and benefits…

…before closing with some inspiring copywriting and another CTA button:

We were surprised not to see any customer reviews or testimonials here. But maybe you don’t have to rely on social proof when you’re a huge, global brand like Wix?


Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix all sell the same type of product. Yet they have radically different approaches to display advertising:

  • Shopify’s ads feel aspirational, often urging ecommerce newbies to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality.
  • Wix is far more serious, leaning into big, scary topics like cybersecurity.
  • Squarespace is somewhere in the middle, but clearly prepared to flex its creative muscles in a big way, as demonstrated by their Martin Scorsese campaign.

Who’d have thought there were so many ways to sell the concept of building a website?

Want to tap into data like this? You can with Adbeat! Request your live Adbeat demo here.

Phil Norris

Contributing Writer |