crealytics' PPC Blog


The place to be for paid search and Google Shopping

How competitive intelligence can maximize your ROAS

Digital advertising spend in retail eclipses all other industries, but at such a substantial cost, everyone selling online wants to know how they can boost their return on ad spend (RoAS). eMarketer reported in 2016 that retailers spent $16 billion on paid digital advertising and forecasted that figure would jump to $23 billion by 2020.

Marketers in retail have a wide range of responsibilities to get customers in the physical or virtual door, such as driving brand awareness, customer loyalty, and retention. The role also covers increasing website and in-store traffic and multi-channel growth. Not to mention, development and management of best-in-class eCommerce and integrated marketing strategies that increase the retailer’s digital footprint.

All of these central tasks that make up a marketer’s role in retail all boil down to traffic and conversions. The questions that keep retail marketers up at night include: are we getting enough traffic to hit our sales and revenue projections? If not, how do we drive more people to our stores and website to buy? Digital advertising helps with this, but with the massive amount retailers are pouring into ads, maximizing the return on that ad spend is only half of the challenge. The other side is from a competitive intelligence standpoint. All retail marketers should ask themselves often: do we have a good idea of what our true tier one competitors are doing from a marketing perspective?

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The role of price on Google Shopping performance

Naturally, product price has an impact on everything in eCommerce, but when it comes to Google Shopping this impact is incredibly severe. A simple 5% increase in price produced a whopping 60% drop in clicks while keeping the bid stable. It certainly appears as though impressions and clicks in Shopping are very sensitive to pricing, more specifically how your price compares to all the similar products on Google Shopping.

For a deeper insight into what is actually going on inside Google Shopping, we analyzed a dataset of more than 15,000 Google Shopping client conversions across the German, UK and US markets covering several international retailers from the fashion, sports, outdoor and luxury sectors.

What we found shed a lot of light on how price affects Shopping performance and why. It also gave us some insights into what retailers can do to turn this phenomenon into a positive for their business.

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Why Lifetime ROI is the only metric that (really) matters in search marketing

Why Lifetime ROI is the only metric that (really) matters in search marketing

It can be tempting, when measuring the success of your search marketing campaigns, to judge them based simply on your Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS). Or, you might want to concentrate solely on winning new customers and measure your campaign success by cost per new customer or just the number of new customers.

But, we think the true value of your campaigns is slightly more complicated. Gaining lots of new customers might sound great, but they can be very expensive to attract. And let’s not forget about returning customers. Sure they may not spend as much per purchase as new customers, but you wouldn’t want them buying a competitor’s product.

To truly understand, and be able to optimize, the value of your search marketing campaigns, you need to calculate the Lifetime Return on Investment (ROI) of each market or campaign. Lifetime ROI is primarily driven by two factors:

  • Expected market specific lifetime values (Customer LTV)
  • Campaign efficiency based on marketing investment (ex. ROAS)

A unified approach is essential to know how much you should be investing in retention vs new customer acquisition. Let’s look at each of those factors, in turn, starting with Customer Lifetime Value (LTV).

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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?


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.

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8 ways small retailers can compete with retail giants using Google Shopping (via Search Engine Land)

Think you’re too small to benefit from Google Shopping campaigns? Think again! Columnist Andreas Reiffen has some advice for smaller retailers looking to improve their Product Listing Ads.

As a small, niche retailer it can seem daunting (almost pointless) to invest too heavily in Google Shopping. After all, how could you ever compete with the major players who have far more money, products and people than you do?

Well, the good news is, it is possible to be competitive in Google Shopping as a small business. In fact, done right, Google Shopping can actually be the most effective digital advertising platform in terms of Return on Ad Spend.

Here are the top strategies to be successful as a small/medium retailer in Google Shopping.

1. Focus on your niche

As a small retailer, you likely sell a very limited selection of niche products. Whether these are your own personal brand, or from independent designers, this exclusivity is your strength.

Selling products that aren’t sold by Amazon or a hundred other retailers, means there’s less competition to appear in Google Shopping for relevant searches. Even better, if you create and sell your own label you won’t have any direct competition in terms of brand queries. Private labels have the added benefit of commanding higher margins, making them a smart investment for any business.

Focus your campaigns on niche, new or unknown brands and try to get these products exclusively.

2. Segment your campaigns effectively

The key to creating Google Shopping ads with great ROAS is making sure they reach the people who are most likely to buy. In the example below, you can see that query A is much more specific – and therefore likely to convert – than query B, yet the bid is the same. Your strategy should be to leave the generic traffic to your competitors and get more of the high-converting traffic to your business.

To generate the maximum amount of sales from Google Shopping, you want to make sure your ads appear for these types of “high-conversion” queries. As with any form of paid media, that generally means bidding slightly more.

But, reverse engineering of Google Shopping has revealed that simply bidding higher on your PLAs makes your ads attract more low-quality traffic. Instead, you want to focus on displaying your ads for specific queries, which tend to convert much better. This is why segmenting your campaigns correctly is essential.

By segmenting your campaigns into the type of queries that receive high, medium and low conversion rates (this will likely differ from business to business) you can set bid amounts that correlate to the user’s intent. That way, you bid more for “high-converting” queries and low for “low-converting” queries.

Here’s a more detailed description of how campaign segmentation works.

3. Incorporate natural language in Product Titles

As a retailer selling new or small, unknown brands it’s unlikely that you will get a high volume of search traffic looking for that brand specifically. Instead, you want to focus your attention on popular natural language queries that describe your products.

You can use Google’s keyword planner to identify the queries that most closely match your product offerings – remember to focus on products that are unique to you. Once you’ve identified these queries, append them to the beginning of the relevant Product Titles in your Product Feed.

This method will help Google be better at finding and surfacing your products when they match the query. It will also make your products look more relevant to shoppers. In many cases, updating your Product Titles with natural language queries can double, if not triple, your impressions without the need to increase your bids, making it a cost-effective way for smaller retailers to compete.

Here’s a handy guide for writing more compelling Product Titles.

4. Use Geotargeting

Another way to make sure your ads are reaching those shoppers most likely to purchase your products is through geo-targeting. Obviously, you first want to make sure you are only advertising your products to people in the areas to which you deliver.

But, you can also use geotargeting in a more granular way by bidding higher for your ads to show in very specific areas. For example, if you are a high-end fashion retailer, you may want to bid more for ads shown in high-income areas where the people searching are more likely to be able to afford your products.

Use something like this buying power map to help determine where your ads would have the most impact and invest heavily in those areas.

5. Leverage RLSA lists

Because Google Shopping is usually a lower funnel advertising medium (ie people generally click on it when they are close to a buying decision), retargeting lists can be extremely useful.

These lists allow you to bid more for ads that will be shown to people that have already visited your site – and therefore are more likely to purchase your products. You can even make these lists more specific by targeting customers who have purchased before, or just those with an Average Basket Value above a certain amount.

6. Don’t bid too much

No one ever wants to bid more than they have to. But, it’s especially important to remember when working with limited budgets, that simply increasing your CPC is not the answer to getting more sales in Google Shopping.

Bidding in Google Shopping works very differently to traditional PPC bidding. Instead of decreasing marginal revenue, there is an S curve.

Essentially, in Google Shopping there is a minimum bid amount to be entered into the auction, then for small bid increases we see a huge jump in conversions, but at a certain point the bid becomes too high and the conversion rate plateaus. When the bid is too high, it means Google is showing your products for very generic queries that are unlikely to convert.

If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to overbid on your Google Shopping campaigns. Setting and forgetting your bids is simply not an option. Instead, you need a system of incremental testing, measuring and tweaking. Make small changes in your bids and see what happens to your CR. If it goes up by a lot, try increasing the bid a bit more until you see a very small (or no) change in CR. If you don’t have the time to manually test all your bids, you should invest in a

tool that can automate that process for you.

When in doubt,  it’s much better to be highly targeted with your bids – through RLSA lists, geo-targeting, campaign segmentation, etc – than to try and “outbid” any major players through raising your base CPC.

7. Decrease your prices

If you do sell some of the same products or brands as your competitors, you’ll often get more out of Google Shopping by decreasing your prices then by just increasing your bids. This may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but it has to do with Google’s algorithm for selecting which products to show.

In an effort to make Google Shopping more appealing to online shoppers, Google seems to have what we call a “low-price bias”. That means, given the choice between two products, Google will almost always choose to show the cheaper of the two, even if the more expensive product has a higher bid. In fact, if your products are too expensive Google may refuse to show them at all.

According to Google, their algorithm doesn’t favor cheaper products. Rather, they apply a machine learning algorithm which reacts to what users like or dislike. In this case, users apparently dislike high prices and therefore the algorithm chooses lower priced products. Either way, the bottom-line is the same: price matters.

In order to compete against bigger online retailers, you may want to consider lowering your prices – at least on the items that you sell in common. In reality, once you get people to your site they’ll often end up buying something other than what they initially clicked on. Think of these lower priced products as “gateways” to your site. Once a shopper is on your site you can try to upsell them to another (or more) product and add them to your retargeting lists for future promotion.

If lowering any of your prices isn’t an option, try focusing your campaigns on the items you sell that are more competitive in price for their category. Overtime, you’ll gather data on which products perform the best in Google Shopping and can start to focus your energies on those products.

8. Take advantage of “Purchases on Google”

Creating a good mobile experience is hard. It requires a lot of design and development experience – which you may not have access to as a small retailer. But, with mobile sales growing by the day, it’s important to make the mobile buying experience as pleasant (ie. easy) as possible.

Google recently introduced “Purchases on Google” – or a Buy Button as some have called it. At the moment it’s an opt-in service that allows retailers to let Google handle the mobile online transaction in Google Shopping without sending the shopper to the retailer’s mobile website.

Some major retailers are concerned about losing control of their opportunity to upsell and/or retarget shoppers once they’ve clicked through to their site and therefore are hesitant to adopt this feature. But, for a small retailer, it’s could be an opportunity to increase mobile sales without having to invest too heavily in a mobile website or app.

At the moment Purchases is only available to a select group of beta testers so you may need to get in touch with Google directly and see if you can get access to it.

Invest smarter, then grow

You don’t necessarily have to invest a ton upfront to make Google Shopping successful for your business. Take time to refine your strategy, and make sure you know (or find out through testing) the answers to these questions:

  1. Which products make you stand out from the competition?
  2. What types of shopper queries indicate high-conversion potential?
  3. Which words or phrases do people search for that could describe your products?
  4. Where do your customers (real & potential) live and what other areas have similar demographics?
  5. How long is your conversion cycle? What is the optimum timeframe to wait before retargeting someone?
  6. What bid range is most efficient for your products?
  7. How competitive are your prices?
  8. How good is your mobile site (or app) at converting?

Once you’ve created highly efficient Google Shopping campaigns, you can begin to ramp up your spending and aim for a larger market share.

The most important thing to remember as a small/medium retailer is to focus on what makes you unique. This uniqueness is why someone would choose to purchase from you in the first place and it’s also what will make your ads stand out both to Google and online shoppers.


See the original article on Search Engine Land


Why PPC is the perfect way to expand into new markets

Launching a new international market is a challenge every growing company will face sooner or later. Knowing where, when and how to launch are all keys to making sure your international growth is a success.

Marketing has a key role to play when entering new markets. It’s their responsibility to gather market intelligence and devise an operational strategy for gaining new customers.

We’ve worked with a number of companies on new market launches, and in our experience, paid advertising provides the perfect medium to both explore and enter into a new market. Here’s an example of how we helped a major luxury retailer expand their online presence.

Country selection

Selecting which countries to venture into is the single biggest task in any internationalization project. Interestingly, lack of data is rarely the issue with internationalization research.

Good sources to draw data from include:

  • Search data – ratio of brand and non-brand searches, search volumes
  • Internal company data – past performance and forecasts of international organic business
  • Primary market research data – brand awareness, brand recognition
  • Secondary socio-demographic research – population, income distribution, average income
  • Industry reports – supplier landscape, international e-commerce and luxury forecasts, ad spend
  • Country reports – technical reach of internet technologies, mobile share, English proficiency

We like to keep things simple, so we bucket data into three dimensions – potential, conversion opportunity, and per capita value – which can be handily multiplied into a rank table. The model looks simple on the surface, but what goes into the three buckets can be quite complex once you take into account validity across countries and harmonization of different data sources.

Potential: How many potential customers are there?

Measuring a country or region’s potential is about the size of the target market. This does not mean the total population of that country – unless you have a very generic product – as not everyone will find your offering relevant. Total population figures are not a good choice of metric when it comes to the potential for most brands.

For example, if you’re a high-end fashion company – while everyone will buy some clothing from time to time – luxury fashion brands hardly address a country’s total population. Instead, they concentrate on the upper end of the market and leave the majority of customers to others.

For our client, we approximated their target segment as anyone with a “personal annual income of more than $50k”. We then sourced an authoritative study comparing the size of this segment across countries. The resulting target segment size gave us a far more valid impression of each country’s potential to order from a luxury retailer than the top line population figures could.

Conversion Opportunity: How easy can we convert those potential customers?

While potential target size is certainly important, you also need to analyze the likelihood of converting that potential on the macro level.

Think: how accessible is the market?

This dimension will likely hold the most indicators within the country selection model – simply because of the number of obstacles you can think of in successfully bringing a product to a foreign market: Be it language barriers, entrenched competitors, differences in supplier landscape and in demand structure or even the gut feeling of the more senior business development managers.

For our client, we analyzed a plethora of data points from the sources listed above. From this data, we identified the five variables most closely correlated with business performance across countries and subsequently developed an algorithm to normalize and aggregate data from different sources, keeping the logic flexible at the same time. The model was flexible enough for client stakeholders to introduce their first-hand view of the business and re-weight the different variables of the index.

Per Capita Value: How much is each potential customer worth?

Once you’ve found out how many potential customers there are in each country and how difficult they are to get at, the missing link is to measure the revenue per capita you can expect.

An example here would be the ARPU (Average Revenue per User), a measure widely used in telecommunications. Alternative approaches might draw on the average basket value per country – often you can find existing business data or get competitive intelligence sourced from consultancies or even assess investor relations filings of the publicly traded companies amongst the competition.

Output – Choosing a market

Once you’ve researched reliable and comparable data for all countries on the longlist, calculating the total size of the opportunity is simply a question of multiplication. The hard, but crucial, work is in data collection and blending different data points into index values in order to produce a summary value for each country on each dimension. Here’s what that analysis looks like for our client (who is based in the UK).

This table of overall potential shows that the Americas have the greatest potential for our client, with the EMEA region runners-up and Asia Pacific finishing third.

Looking at the dimensions plot clarifies that although APAC had the highest per capita income (bubble size), our research and experts on the client side judged it to be less accessible than the other regions. The prime reason for finishing third though is the limited target size. This also is what sets up the Americas as the top-grossing region, trumping better accessibility and higher per capita customer value in Europe and the Middle East.

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We then worked through the rankings on the more granular country level and, together with the client, suggested a final list of countries to tackle.

Entering the market

Once you’ve chosen your markets for expansion, your next task is figuring out how to tackle said market efficiently. Different media channels have different strengths and weaknesses, including the channels’ carrier medium, the environment it operates in or the audience it attracts.

Again, we think paid advertising should be your initial go-to medium. It has little upfront costs, can be scaled quickly, continuously optimized and offers granular cost control mechanisms and impromptu results as well as the ability to act on those results. It’s the ideal tool to use when entering a new market:

Ramp up time and scalability

When expanding internationally, you want a solution that allows you to be agile. Internationalization strategies should favor channels that involve no or little upfront production/adoption cost, are quick to setup and easy to scale once they prove their value.

PPC is a featherweight in setup cost since ad copy is cost-effective to produce. Google Shopping is even easier – all you need is a Product Feed in the right language. Also, a sufficient share of voice can be reached in many countries through just one big provider of search services, doing away with variations in format and inflated transaction cost.

Related: Go global and break into new markets with Google’s new PLA features

On the billing side of things, pay per click and daily budget caps allow for the required flexibility to start fast and scale sustainably.

Intelligence gathering

Especially when venturing into uncharted territory, you want your chosen channel to produce intelligence on the go rather than require copious intelligence to get started. Instead of putting a lot of upfront work into pinning down targeting criteria, you want a campaign that can be continuously optimized.

PPC records a high volume of interactions, which lets advertisers confidently optimize on the fly and gives them tremendous insight into what makes people tick in each market. With so much data being collected instantaneously, you can quickly spot trends and react to specific market challenges.

Related: How to squeeze every last drop of performance from your paid campaigns

Accountability

Internationalization projects typically work across departments and have a high strategic importance to the company – which means a high degree of visibility. Experienced international expansion teams, therefore prefer media channels that offer granular cost control mechanisms and impromptu results as well as the ability to act on those results.

Firstly, PPC produces fast results, so that project leaders will have something to report on almost immediately. Secondly, looking at the customer journey, PPC interactions are very close to the transaction that produces tangible results for a company (ie sales) – so project leaders will be able to report on KPIs that are highly meaningful to the business. After all, in PPC, advertisers only pay if people were interested enough in an offering to click on it.

Related: Why Lifetime ROI is the only metric that (really) matters in search marketing

Conclusion

When it comes time to expand your brand internationally, it’s easy to overlook medium sized opportunities that would be more receptive to you product because other countries impress by sheer scale or have high net worth per capita. Which is why it’s essential that you do your homework.

PPC presents the perfect medium to both explore the potential of new markets and begin your entry strategy. It’s a lightweight advertising platform that provides the needed flexibility and reporting capabilities to sustainably catapult your business into a new country.


SEO vs SEA: Should you bid on your own Brand Keywords?

One of the age-old questions in PPC is undoubtedly: should I bid on my own brand keywords?

If you’re doing SEO right, it can seem like a waste of money to bid for your own brand’s terms. After all, that’s what organic search is for. Right? On the other hand, what kind of highly-relevant traffic are you losing by not bidding on your brand terms?

As the debate raged on with no end in sight, we decided to let the data do the talking. And so we set to work creating an experiment. From the 9th October – 4th December 2016 we tested how SEO and SEA are affected when we did not bid on the brand keyword of a major fashion retailer.

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Numbers aren’t everything: How to find the right Attribution Model for you

Accurately attributing sales to your marketing activities is one of the most important – and difficult – jobs of a Digital Marketer. There are so many paths a customer could take to reach your purchase page, and not all of them are easy to measure.

Even if you just focus on the digital channels (because they’re easy to measure), the raw numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to get to the truth.

Take one of our clients for example – a high-end, one-brand, designer furniture retailer.  As you might expect, their website isn’t selling products one buys on impulse. Instead, conversion paths are extremely long, with over half of all traffic coming from Paths with 6 steps or more.

Now, these guys had a pretty young account and it was growing rapidly. To make sure they invested their money in the right places, they needed us to assess the optimal spend for different channels. What we found, was that the performance reported on Non-Brand Text Ads (AKA “Generic Search”) seemed extremely poor at face value.

That seemed a bit strange to us, so we assessed the conversion paths and tested different attribution models in the Analytics Attribution Modelling tool.

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Why we prepare for Valentine’s Day and you should too

The day of love and romance is not just for those planning on giving a gift to that special someone. It’s also a big day for ecommerce in general. As Valentine’s Day’s reach grows, there’s a lot of money waiting to be earned. In America last year, 28% of all Valentine’s Day gifts were purchased online. If you’re in the retail business, you don’t want to miss out as people continue to spend more on Valentine’s Day every year!

While consumer spending on Halloween surpassed Valentine’s Day in 2016, it still holds a strong fourth position for highest spending day of the year. To be a bit more precise, people in the United States spent an average of $147 each on Valentine’s Day, with men’s spending being almost double that of women’s.

When it comes to search behavior, interest begins to really pick up at the start of February. We also see that sales peak on February 7th and 11th. So you want to make sure you have everything set up by then at the latest.

Unsurprisingly, the categories most affected by Valentine’s day are gifts, flowers, chocolate and jewelry. We gathered trends regarding traffic spikes, search volumes and conversion probability by analyzing our internal data pool from 2016, as well as Google’s keyword planner. If you’re advertising in one of these areas you should definitely check whether you’ve got everything covered.

We also analyzed the US, UK and German markets for differences in search behavior. Our goal was to help you figure out the unique cultural differences you need to take into account when dealing with different countries.

Here are our recommendations for making the most out of the Valentine’s Day uplift:

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