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Image testing in Google Shopping: the next frontier

Any digital marketer worth their salt knows that testing, measuring and iterating are the three pillars of a successful strategy.

Google Shopping, however, has proved somewhat resistant to this strategy. Unlike other methods of PPC, it’s technically not possible to properly split test alternative titles by showing two different versions of the same ad simultaneously to different people.

The obvious workaround is to compare two different time periods, and while that does come with some challenges, it’s still possible to draw significant conclusions. To help ensure the different time periods aren’t the reason for any uplift/downswing, we also analyze the total performance of all the products over the whole time period.

In their simplest form, Shopping ads are made up of a Product title, description, category, and image. We’ve had significant success in testing the first three over the years – you can read about those findings here – but image true testing has remained somewhat elusive.

In this post, we’ll discuss the current challenges associated with image testing, what testing we’ve done thus far and the insights we’ve derived.

Image testing challenges

An image can tell you far more about a product than a title or a description and a good one is key to catching the attention of would-be customers. Images are widely believed to be the most important factor in shoppers choosing to click on an ad.

Image testing looks to be the next game-changer for click-through and conversion rates, but it’s still a bit of a black box. This is largely due to three factors that make images difficult to test: categorization, image displays, and time lag.

Image categorization

The first issue comes down to how you categorize your images, to begin with. In fashion, for example, a basic image test would be to see whether images with a model perform better than images with just the product in them. However, if you haven’t already categorized your images in this way already, it will be difficult to know which images to change.

Ideally, you’d change all the images in an entire category. But this also means you need to have an image of both types for every product in that category. Which you may not have, especially if you sell products from other brands.

Image categorization is time-consuming and largely manual. However, without accurate categorization, you won’t be able to run a conclusive test.

Conclusion: Spend time categorizing your images along all the lines you think you’d want to test them

Image display

While image categorization is something completely within your control, whether or not your image is even shown by Google is not.

On the main SERP (Search Engine Results Page) each of the (up to 8) products shown has an image. However, in the Shopping tab products get clustered into just one offer list. This usually happens when multiple retailers sell the same product.

Effectively, what this means is that you cannot be sure your image is being shown – making accurate testing very difficult.

Conclusion: Unfortunately there’s no real workaround for this as you don’t have any control over which image is shown and where. For more general tests you could test only exclusive products not sold by anyone else, in which case you can be sure that your image is displayed

Time lag

Another factor out of your control which makes image testing difficult is the time lag. In this instance, time lag refers to the amount of time after you change the image on your website for Google to change the image on your Shopping ad.

It can take up to 72 hours for Google to index a new image when the accompanying URL is changed. If you don’t change the URL and instead do a server-side image swap, re-indexing the image can take up to 6 weeks!

This time lag makes image testing take a while because, in order to accurately measure the effect, you need to wait for all the images to be indexed and then run your test, change them, wait for the re-indexing and run the test again. The whole process could potentially take months.

Conclusion: Make sure your images have changed before you start collecting data for your test – wait at least 72 hours.

Image testing and insights

Despite the challenges accurate image testing presented, we were able to run a test that gave us an interesting insight into an image’s potential to boost a campaign.

The data we used came from two retailers in the fashion industry. For this first iteration, we looked at the effects of using images that featured a modeled product and a product in isolation.

In total, we changed around 1800 images. Up to 40 million impressions were taken into account, and we overlooked any products that were not consistently available. To help measure the true impact of the new image, we also ran a control stream as a baseline.

Interestingly, we found that while in some cases changing the image had a significant impact on the CTR, in other cases it had very little effect.

When we dug a little deeper we found that whether or not an image change had a significant effect depended on the other images it was displayed beside in Shopping. If the image types in Google Shopping varied regularly (ie there was a roughly equal amount of images with and without a model), there was no significant benefit in having the image feature a model.

On the other hand, if most of the other Shopping images featured products on their own, it was beneficial to have an image that stood out (ie one with a model). We observed a 27% increase in CTR when our image stood out.

This presents another major issue with image optimization: knowing what sort of image will stand out. Figuring out what the most commonly displayed images look like for the top 1,000 products you sell presents plenty of its own challenges.

So close, and yet, so far

As Google gets better and better at figuring out synonyms and directing traffic to the right products, optimizing your product titles will get more and more difficult. Images have the potential to fill that gap.

The potential for image testing goes far beyond whether or not the image contains a model. Perhaps certain product colors stand out more than others. Or image background (white, color, scene) could be important.

For now, it appears that simply having an image that stands out from the competition in some way has the greatest effect. But as we pointed out before, even that isn’t an easy thing to figure out and optimize for.

There’s a long way to go before we get the full picture of what an image does to your campaign. And, honestly, it seems like we may need a few changes from Google before true testing and optimization are possible.

Nevertheless, we’ll keep plugging away at it to see what we can find out. We’ll keep you posted!

What do you think of image testing?


What Google’s Q1 2017 Earnings Report means for the retail sector

Yesterday, Google’s parent company Alphabet released their earnings report for the close of Q1 2017.

As we predicted, Alphabet’s revenues rose 17% between 1Q16 and 1Q17.  Much of that revenue boost is likely due to the 53% rise in clicks on paid advertising – no surprises there. What’s odd is that while both revenue and clicks went up, cost per clicks went down by 19%.

For those of you who paid attention in Econ101, you’re probably wondering how that’s possible. How can Google receive less revenue, but still make more profit?

Google claims that they have “refined their methodology for paid clicks and cost per click to include additional categories of TrueView engagement ads and exclude non-engagement based trial ad formats.”

But we think the answer is slightly more nuanced than that.

More ad inventory

First off, the sheer number of ads Google shows on a search results page has increased. Ads, most notably of the Shopping variety, have popped up in image searches, YouTube and even Gmail.

This “ad creep” has pushed organic results further and further down the page. In these two screenshots, for example, organic results didn’t even make it above the fold at all. Considering that Google is now reporting that 51% of all clicks are coming from Mobile devices, the lack of organic results means that advertising is particularly taking over the majority of the mobile SERP.

A large part of this creep is due to the growth of visually-oriented Shopping ads, where the image of the product is presented instead of the traditional three lines of text.  Sometimes known as PLAs, not only did this ad format increase the raw number of ads a searcher was presented with, it also increased the amount of space ads took up on the page – by a lot.

See, the reason that Shopping ads are so powerful is that they include an image of the product. And images take up a lot more vertical space than text.  

So if desktop SERPs contain 5 – 9 Shopping ads and 2 – 4 Text ads, your average human now has to scroll quite far down the page in order to click something that isn’t an ad. A task which becomes even more difficult when using a small phone screen – an important factor when you consider Mobile now accounts for the majority of online ad clicks.

More ads that take up more space means two things:

  1. Searchers are more likely to click on ads (equals more revenue for Google)
  2. There are more ads for companies to buy (increased supply initially leads to lower prices while demand catches up)

Visually oriented product ads

Secondly, the move towards Google Shopping Ads has traditionally lead to an increase in clicks in total. In their report Alphabet doesn’t differentiate the number of clicks generated by Shopping vs Search ads, but overall clicks on Google’s web properties (search, Gmail, and YouTube, etc) grew 53% from 2016 to 2017.

That means that Google is getting higher click through rates on existing space, because it can place three product ads in the same space as a single text ad, and consumers are more likely to click on image-based ads than text-based ones. According to our own research Shopping ads now represent around 74% of all ads clicked on Google.

Google_Shopping_Click_Share_2014_2016

This growth is also likely due to Google serving more product ads and expanding their availability to more general search terms — for example, showing Shopping ads on a search for “running shoes,” not just “Nike Air Max.”

In addition, Shopping ads have proved highly effective. Jessica Levens, director of e-commerce at Reef (a beachwear brand), recently said in the NY Times that “product campaigns helped triple sales that started from online queries, including instances where customers searched without including the Reef brand name.”

Our research also shows that Shopping ads are more likely to lead to a sale, making them a more profitable advertising medium. This is particularly impressive considering that in a side-by-side comparison, Shopping ads are actually more expensive than Text ads.

It’s no surprise then that retailers are snapping up them up. Shopping ads accounted for 52% of all Google search ad spending by retailers in the first quarter of 2017.

The important takeaways from this quarter’s Earnings Report are that

  1. Google has prioritized use of an ad medium (Shopping) that people click on a lot (More click revenue for Google)
  2. Google has used Shopping as a way to expand the number of available ads for retailers to buy (more ad selling opportunities for Google and lower prices while demand catches up to supply)
  3. Shopping has become an advertising medium that retailers can’t live without (always good for Google)

Everyone’s a winner (for now)

It seems all that traffic pushing and ad reshuffling is really working in Google’s favor.

In Google Shopping, Alphabet has created an advertising medium that works on multiple levels.  It’s good for consumers because they can easily find the product they are looking for, and it’s good for retailers who are getting a better CR and ROI than they were with Text ads.

What’s more, this ad medium is working on Mobile, which is a big deal considering it now equates to more than half of online traffic.

The real winners, as always, are Google. They’ve created a system where even though the cost of their product has more than halved in a year, they are selling enough of it to still make money.

What does this mean for advertisers?

Right now, Google Shopping is the deal of the century. Due to the ongoing availability of ad inventory supply, its costs are at an all-time low while the CR remains high.

This will not last forever! As more retailers recognize Google Shopping as a way of converting mobile traffic and improving the digital marketing ROI, they will invest more advertising money and CPCs will rise.

That means this is the best time to start investing in Google Shopping. Costs are relatively low, returns are high and competition is minimal. As a retailer if you can work out your Shopping strategy now, you’ll be in excellent shape when the rest of them catch on.


Department stores: a practical paid search guide to launching new markets

Last month, we explored the importance of launching paid search campaigns in different languages. In short: if people who don’t speak your native language buy from your store, your ability to target them with ads in their own language gives you a significant competitive advantage. But how do you actually launch new markets? For department stores who stock a range of products from different designers it can seem like a gargantuan task.

To launch paid search activity in a new market (Text Ads, Google Shopping or both), you need to be well prepared.  If you want to avoid AdWords creeping into your dreams whilst your launch date keeps getting postponed, here’s our step-by-step guide to help you get it right.

To keep things practical, we’ve based this guide on a real-life launch from one of our British clients who launched a new French account for their well-known department store.

By following the steps below, you’ll be well-equipped to take advantage of new, promising markets through your Text Ads and Google Shopping activity in no time.

Before you launch

Hold up! Before you dive in, there’s a whole lot of stuff that needs to be done. Launching successfully in a new market is all about preparation, so here’s how to get ready and set up like a pro.

1. Start early

Plan ideally two months in advance of the official launch date.  Make sure you have qualified resources in place, like a native speaker who can help with accurate translation and a multilingual website to receive traffic from the paid search activity.

2. Analyze

Be sure to analyze potential markets before making a decision. Ask yourself if it will be beneficial to tackle a brand-new territory, or go local in one of your most important regions. Look at performance metrics, such as clicks, impressions, CTR, cost and revenue, to help you make the best choice.

It’s crucial that you understand your company’s existing markets, as well as the new market you are attempting to enter. This involves evaluating any potential financial and economic implications of your expansion.

3. Keyword research

Start first with your brand campaigns, as these generally catch the most traffic and don’t need as much optimization as the others.

To build designer campaigns, you need to recognize all designers featured on your online store as keywords.

Finally, assemble your generic campaigns with the products you are selling online. This helps ensure that a significant number of search terms can convert.

You could also create long-tail keywords for your best-performing designers. For this task, you can take examples from pre-existing designer campaigns. Don’t produce long-tail keywords for every designer though, because they are more specific and tend to receive less search traffic. You can also use localized SQs (Search Queries) which are already performing well for existing campaigns in your native language.

Negative keywords are also important if you don’t want to spend money on undesirable search terms.

You might also want to translate ads from your existing account. Just remember to check if the name of your brand or designers have different meanings in the new language.

4.  Consider different designers

Align with every designer listed on your site regarding ad copy guidelines, so that any vocabulary that is specific to them can be defined. In the case of our client, we had to use the word “order” instead of “buy”, and “polyvalent” rather than “easy to wear”. The capitalization of letters might also be different in other languages, as well as the format of delivery costs.

Be careful with trademark issues too. Some designers may not whitelist you, thus prohibiting you from using their name in your ad copy. They might also request that you state clearly in the ads that yours is not the official website for their products.

Checking requirements like these goes beyond ad copy, including changes to elements such as ad extension or link structure. For instance, the word “shoes’’ used in a Final URL for our client had to be changed to the French ‘’chaussures’’. Cover all your bases.

Setting up the campaign

So, you’ve checked and double checked the preparations, and you’re ready to take this launch to the next level. Setup is one of those things that takes patience and a good eye for detail. Go steady and make sure you have the following covered…

1. Language

Don’t forget to change the language settings in the original account. You should exclude the new target language (in our account, the French one), from the original account settings. Failing to do this may result in your new Text or Google Shopping ads not displaying.

2. Bidding

Bid modifiers are an essential part of deciding where, when and how you want your ads to appear. Ads perform differently in each country, which means it’s necessary to alter their setup accordingly. There are different bid modifiers to look at when you make these changes: device, location, ad scheduling and RLSA (Remarketing List for Search Ads) – the impact of each should be analyzed to ensure the best performance in your new market.

To create the location bid modifiers in our own example, we made a geo analysis and added a positive bid adjustment for French cities generating high revenue and bearing a low COS. We added a negative percentage for cities performing badly. Paris, as the fashion capital, bears most of the traffic, and its bid was adjusted accordingly as you can see in the table below.

During launch

The show isn’t over once you hit launch; this is an ongoing process that needs care and attention to get it safely off the ground. Here are some tips to ensure your campaign stays on track once it’s live.

1. Tracking

Ensure new campaigns are tracked in your reports. It sounds obvious, but if they’re not included and set up correctly from the start, everything will be skewed. Check your existing report interface and template to make sure you’re correctly tracking activity.

2. Run SQRs

You should regularly run SQRs (Search Query Reports), using the results to help constantly build new keywords, adgroups and campaigns, and add negatives. The frequency of these queries will depend on the traffic your campaigns are capturing as well any additions to your website’s product offering.

3. Bid up aggressively

Push your bids – especially for mid and long-tail keywords – to drive as much traffic as possible through your campaigns at an early stage. This will make it easier for you to make relevant bidding decisions in the upcoming weeks.

Tip: Push designers or products which are important for your brand and revenue.

Also, be aware that new markets need more budget to gain traction, so prepare to funnel more spend towards these accounts to achieve best performance.

4. Analyze your bid modifiers’ performance

Regularly analyze your mobile bids, because it’s likely that their behavior in another language/region is different. To make changes on a bid level, don’t hesitate to optimize ad scheduling, which helps you manage the amount being spent according to performance and demand.

When helping our client expand into France, we decided after one month to increase the mobile bid modifiers for the designers that generated significant revenue. We also added ad scheduling with a higher percentage on Sundays – the day with the highest revenue.

5. A/B test new ad copy

To find the catchiest ad copy for your new market audience, make sure to test different USPs (Unique Selling Propositions). You can use the Lab Tab in Google AdWords to run different experiences and implement them if they show positive potential. The moral of the story: always experiment!

Little changes which might not seem relevant could make a huge difference, so play with  different Paths until you get the perfect mix.

6. Compare the performance of top areas

Here we can show from our own example how to compare performance of the top areas.

Clicks per category

Clicks_new_market

 

One month after  launch, we observed that the clicks in the new French account (FR/FR) increased by 2429% compared to the  original English one (FR/EN), which considerably decreased. We predicted this outcome, because the likelihood of people in France searching with French – rather than English – terms is higher. The English ads are still delivering a minimal amount of traffic for the small number of non-French searches still taking place.

Clicks per device

Clicks_per_device

We noticed a similar effect on different device levels, with mobile capturing the biggest cut of the traffic. From this insight, we could deduce that in France, French-speaking consumers tend to search using mobile, whilst non-French-speaking consumers search more actively on desktop/laptop.

Top Designers

Top_designers_new_market

The new French account also yielded more traffic thanks to the higher budget. We also observed the recurrence of one particular designer in both accounts, who appeared to be of French origin.

Conclusion

Looking at the results from our example with the UK department store, the launch of the client’s localized account was a success, triggering more traffic than the English one. We had to be patient when waiting to see any clear results, because when launching a new market, it can take weeks before the campaigns generate revenue.

Through our example, we also came to recognize that the top designers in one market may well perform differently in another new market. With this in mind, it’s important to stay on top of any bid optimizations that need to take place because of this divergence.

Keys to success

For search marketers attempting to expand into new markets, there are many steps to take, especially in the early setup stages of the account. The most important things to remember are:

  • You can’t be frugal – launching new markets requires extra budget to get them off the ground.
  • Experiment! – you have a lot to learn about your new market, and the best way to go about it is to test and experiment until you find out what works best.
  • Always employ negative keywords – you don’t want to waste money.
  • Focus on audiences and locations that yield the best performance – using bid modifiers to squeeze the most out of your top performers is a solid strategy.

If you’re thinking about launching Google Shopping activity in new markets, we’ve developed Camato to remove as many layers of manual work as possible. By automating campaign structuring and bid management, you’re left with more time to get to know your new customers.

Thinking of expanding into a new market? We can help.


Advanced Google Shopping: data insights from behind the scenes

At Crealytics, we love experimenting with Google Shopping to see what works and what doesn’t. There are all kinds of campaign optimization tricks to be discovered when you spend time testing. What’s more, as the hunger grows for more in-depth Google Shopping best practices, it’s crucial to stay on top of changes and developments in the Google’s algorithm and the sector itself. Luckily, we’re pretty nerdy when it comes to this kind of thing!

Last month at SMX West, I treated an audience to a presentation on Advanced Google Shopping, in the hope of addressing some of the biggest questions on the lips of PPC marketers today:

  • How should current changes in the Google Shopping economy affect my approach?
  • What impact does price have on performance and ranking?
  • How should I test my Google Shopping product images?
  • How can I ensure my product titles are performing?

I’ve compiled some of the most useful bits so that you can apply them to your Google Shopping strategies.

Continue reading


Why top retailers are investing more in Google Shopping than Text Ads (and you should too)

Google Shopping is more popular among shoppers — and marketers — than ever before. In 2016, retailer spending on Google Shopping ads grew 36% compared to 2015. In the US and UK, spend on Google Shopping has already surpassed that of Text ads. And this increase shows no signs of slowing down.

According to Adobe’s Digital Index study of online advertising, retailers spent 47% more on Google’s shopping ads in 2016 than they did a year ago. Even Amazon has started to dip its toes in the PLA waters.

Why the shift in spend to Google Shopping ads? Because marketers at some of the world’s largest retailers see more value in them.

While Text ads probably won’t be disappearing completely anytime soon, Google Shopping is clearly taking e-commerce marketing by storm. Here’s where all that added value comes from, and why you should join the ranks in bumping up your investment in Google Shopping over Text ads.

Enticing to shoppers

First and foremost, Google has made its PLAs enticing for shoppers to click on. Search Engine watch reported that while PLAs accounted for just 37 percent of the 8 billion total paid search impressions generated on those keywords during Q2, half of all clicks were on PLAs.

And that makes sense when you compare the two side by side. If you’re looking for a product, Google Shopping ads give you far more information at a glance than a block of Text ever could.

We live in a world where images and video dominate the media we consume. It’s getting harder and harder to catch the attention of your would-be customers, so having an ad that surfaces all the relevant information quickly, and in one place is key. Shopping online is a very visual experience, and shoppers browsing online rely on images and visual content to bring them closer to products.

From a retailer’s perspective, Google Shopping allows them to present all the most important product information up front, meaning those who do click on the ad are more likely to want the product. Shopping ads show product-focused images and description, as well as price. The result is more qualified traffic that leads to stronger conversions.

On the other hand, text ads — by their definition — don’t include visuals. Product price is also not typically displayed in text ads. This means shoppers can’t select listings based on their price sensitivity, which can lead to costly, unqualified clicks.

Long story short, online shoppers like clicking on Google Shopping ads. In 2016, Google Shopping accounted for 43% of all retailers’ Google search ad clicks and 70 percent of non-brand related search clicks.

Mobile experience

Despite the meteoric rise of mobile shoppers, retailers have struggled to convert that traffic into actual sales. However, when it comes to reaching shoppers on mobile, Google Shopping ads have clear advantages.

For one thing, they absolutely dominate the screen.

Google has created an inviting and easily scrollable carousel with product images, price and brand prominently displayed. Infinitely better than a lot of mobile pages we’ve come across.

Squeezed in at the bottom of your phone screen, with much less visibility and no visual component, Text ads command much less attention on mobile. According to our data, Google Shopping ads on mobile perform 61% better than their Text ad equivalents.

Conversions

If you think about the mindset of someone who would click on a PLA, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have a higher conversion rate than Text ads.

To click on a Google Shopping ad, the searcher needs to be interested in the product. Because all the relevant information is presented up front, there is far less risk of shoppers clicking an ad only to find that the product is too expensive or doesn’t look like they thought it would.

The data backs up this theory quite nicely. When we normalize the conversion data to make Text ads on Desktop 100, we see that Google Shopping ads bring in more than double the amount of conversions.

Unsurprisingly, since Google Shopping ad clickers tend to be closer to a buying decision, they tend to convert sooner (and after fewer clicks) than those who click on Text ads. In fact, 80% of Shopping conversions happen in the first five days.

conversion.png

This is because Google Shopping ads are designed to reach people searching for product-specific terms like brand name, product name, color, etc, making them a much stronger ad format to convert shoppers who have done their research and are closer to purchase. As an added benefit, these long-tail queries in Google Shopping are less competitive, less expensive, and better converting than generic search terms.

Screen-Shot-2016-09-20-at-10.08.54.png

Text ads, on the other hand, are much better at capturing general traffic, because they can be directed to a general listing page for products. The problem is that the space has become quite crowded and getting your ad displayed for ultra generic terms like “heels” is now quite expensive.

Google is making the investment

It seems Google really wants Shopping ads to work. They released a steady stream of updates in 2015 and 2016 that increased visibility and improved the experience of PLAs.

Google Shopping Updates in 2015

  • Available as part of the YouTube ad offering
  • Increased the size of shopping ads on mobile
  • Shopping ads became part of the Google image search

Google Shopping Changes 2016

  • Merchant Feed Center overhaul
  • GTINs now required for all products
  • Constant experimentation with where to put Google Shopping on the results page

In February 2016, Google dropped text ads from the right side of the SERP, dedicating more space to Shopping ads at the top and right side of the page.

The enhancements show no sign of slowing down. So far in 2017, Google have added search filters to the scrollable carousel format, included a bunch more countries, and incorporated an automatic currency converter.

There’s also some evidence that Google is pushing more and more generic queries in the direction of its Shopping ads in an effort to make them more appealing to shoppers at the beginning of their journey. The proportion of generic queries we’ve seen coming through Shopping rose to 21% in 2015 – up from 6% in 2014.

The volume and velocity of Google Shopping updates show that Google is committed to delivering on its promise of putting retailers’ products in front of the right consumers.

And that can only be a good thing for the future of Shopping ads.

An advertising powerhouse

When it comes to digital retail advertising, Google Shopping is becoming the reigning powerhouse. And now is definitely a good time to jump on the bandwagon.

But, if you want to stay competitive, you do need a specific Google Shopping strategy. Google Shopping can’t just be a line on your Paid Search report. It has the potential to be a massive revenue driver – 90% of PPC revenue for some of our clients – but only when it’s handled properly. Google Shopping is a unique medium and it deserves its own unique strategy and tooling.

Not sure what that is? Sign up for our FREE 5 week Google Shopping mastery course and find out!

And if you’re looking to get a read on the performance of your own campaigns, get in touch with us for a free account check to find out how Camato’s machine learning and automation can help your business.


Advertising’s Next Step: A Fully Integrated Real-Time Network (via Media Post)

Crealytics engineers are working to buildout a feed-based advertising platform to not only support Google and Bing’s image-based shopping networks, but support marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, Facebook, Instagram, and other comparison-priced platform.

“The idea is to create one platform to handle all,” said Andreas Reiffen, CEO at Crealytics. “Marketers live by the illusion they can track and measure everything, but the industry isn’t even close to solving all the challenges.

How are sales driven by advertising, from search to programmatic, valued and measured? Some companies track revenue and attach margins. It’s common that 50% of a retailer’s stock level runs low for products that sell well. The other 50% are in excess, products that typically need to sell at a “massively” low rate of return.

The cost of selling the overstocked product remains much higher, and it is not reflected in the reporting results of the Web analytic platforms, Reiffen said. “No one wants to talk about it but it remains a major problem,” he said. “I don’t want to say that we can solve this, but we are one in a few companies trying to take this into account.”

Read the full article on Media Post


Here’s what you need to know about Location Targeting in AdWords

You could have the greatest ad campaigns in the world, but none of it will matter unless you show them to the right people. But, that hasn’t always been so easy.

That doesn’t just mean country by country or state by state. You want your ads reaching your customer (or people just like them), and that means getting super detailed. Which, hasn’t always been so easy.

Until now that is. Google recently released a feature called Location Targeting that helps you do just that. You can show your ads to an entire country, an area within that country, a radius from a specific location, or (most excitingly) a location group.

The first three types of location targeting are pretty self-explanatory, but it’s the location groups that got us excited.

Location Groups

Location groups allow you to reach customers based on a number of different factors such as the types of places they visit, demographic information (based on location), or when they are near your shop.

This is great because it means that if you are a high-end furniture company and you only want to target your ads to individuals with an income in the top 10%, you can – without having to know exactly where all these people live across the US.

Targeting locations by demographic is a really good way to make sure your ads are reaching the right types of customers – those most likely to purchase your goods – and until now you had to do all your demographic research yourself and enter the locations manually.

Google is getting it’s income figures from the Internal Revenue Service (US only right now). The data, which is all publically available, determines the approximate average household income for a specific location.

No word yet on just how accurate this data is, but it’s surely more targeted than spreading your ads across a very general area.

To make sure your ads reach the most customers, Google recommends targeting a broad area and using location bid adjustments to bid more for the areas your most interested in.

Stay tuned for more as we test this feature and bring you some best practices for using it!


Farewell standard Text ads!

As of the January 31st, standard Text Ads will be no more.

According to GoogleAfter this date, you’ll no longer be able to create new standard text ads. Existing standard text ads will continue serving alongside expanded text ads and responsive ads.

Instead, Google Text Ad users will have to choose between Expanded Text Ads and Responsive Ads.

What does this mean?

  • Ads are bigger, pushing organic results further down the page
  • Ads are more unified across devices (Mobile/Desktop) – Ads can’t be “mobile preferred” anymore
  • Ads are more dynamic – Google can now play around with the Headline order

It also means that if you are in a heavily regulated industry, you need to watch your character limits closely. Your ads can get cut off even if you are within the character limits.

Google stated that not going for more than 33 characters across H1 and H2 will stop truncation in basically all instances, that is a very tight limit. Truncation can be a serious problem in general for many retailers because the limit is a pixel width rather and a number of characters and the pixel width available depends on the platform/browser size. Hence, what might look fine in Preview or when you test yourself could get truncated in other situations.

Recommended: Expert predictions for 2017


Google Shopping Experts on what to expect in 2017

2016 may not have been a great year for everyone, but it was a heck-of-a year for Google Shopping.

Retailers spent 56% of their ad spend on Google Shopping last year, meaning Shopping finally outpaced traditional Search ads in terms of spending in the US and UK.

Google overhauled the Merchant Feed Center and updated the Feed Specifications to include Unit Pricing, Color and Size, and GTIN. They also set a minimum image size requirement and increased the maximum Product Feed file size from 1 – 4GB.

Shopping ads began appearing as part of image searches. Local Inventory Ads got an update to allow for in-store pickup. Google started including a currency converter to make it easier for shoppers looking to buy products from another country. And the launch of Customer Match finally allowed retailers to target Shopping ads to segmented lists.

So, what can we expect from Google Shopping in 2017? We asked a load of Google Shopping experts that very question, and here’s what they had to say…

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This week in search

This week in search: Black Friday success, Snapchat ads and Google’s product carousel

The world of search marketing moves fast! To keep you up-to-date with the latest news, product releases, and industry updates, we’ve collected the most interesting articles from the past week. Consider this your cheat sheet to current events.

December 3 – 9

Google Shopping Carousel Adds Category Filters

Google is rolling out a new carousel feature. When you search for specific retail or shopping queries, Google may show you a carousel that lets you refine and filter your search results. While this is not technically an ad feature, it does contain Shopping Ad results in the carousel, so it might be in the future. One to watch for sure.

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Are Snapchat ads working?

Many brands have been increasing their investment in Snapchat advertising recently. But is it working? Maybe not. Turns out that Snapchat video ads generate less than 3 seconds of view time on average.

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Black Friday 2016 sets record for mobile conversions

The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics released a report on sales from Black Friday 2016. Here are the most interesting stats…

  • > 154 million shoppers over the weekend
  • $289.19 average spend per person
  • 44% shopped online
  • Only 9% have completed their holiday shopping
  • $1.2 billion in mobile sales

Read the full report