Yesterday morning at Google’s AdWords Livestream 2015, the AdWords team announced several exciting new features. The features they’ll be launching fall into three broad categories: ad experiences, automation, and measurement. Here’s a run-down of each:
For Automobile Ads, Hotel Ads, Shopping Ads, and Comparison Ads the big theme across all is an emphasis on interactive. Google is releasing a number of enhancements to the creative formats for different verticals by making them more interactive, with a greater emphasis on images and integration with mobile apps. With these enhancements, Google is looking to move advertising beyond just text ads, which are the most common ad format today. This is an understandable move, as ads containing images are proven to drive higher levels of user engagement, according to eMarketer, with a 28% growth in clicks for image-based ads versus just 4% for text ads in Q2 of 2014.
In today’s world, advertisers need to manually create campaigns and set bids for Dynamic Search Ads. Google acknowledges that this can be a cumbersome task that is difficult to scale for advertisers with expansive keyword sets. With the launch of the new Dynamic Search Ads, an improved workflow will allow advertisers to simply type in a URL and view recommended CPCs provided for their categories. Additionally, the introduction of automation into the DSA workflow demonstrates Google’s intentions of moving away from keywords and towards more macro targeting. Google has also announced auto-resizing of GDN ads to help advertisers save time and make it easier for them to reach their audience through Display. For bidding, Google is launching a CPA bid simulation report that will allow advertisers to simulate bids for target CPAs on search and display, as well as an enhanced bid strategy dashboard in the Shared library that will allow advertisers to review the status of their bid strategies over time.
To provide advertisers with the full value of digital and insight into their advertising performance across devices, Google is enhancing their analytics and reporting capabilities. These new capabilities will allow for better conversion and attribution tracking across devices. The first step in this process will be the integration of Estimated Total Conversions (ETC) to bidding to help inform better bidding and budgeting decisions. Later this year, advertisers will be able to take action on cross-device conversions for automated bidding and to include cross-device conversions as part of the conversions column in AdWords. The goal is to provide advertisers with the ability to track cross-device conversions that started on the web and finished on the app, regardless of device type. Attribution was also discussed, with the integration of data driven attribution into AdWords to make attribution actionable for Search. This integration will allow you to break down the customer journey and measure every moment using your own conversion data to value attribution. This will allow Google to calculate the actual contribution of every keyword in your account and optimize for the best performing keywords across the conversion path. Coupling this new feature with automated bidding will allow you to optimize keyword bids based on the actual value of your Search ads.
All these new enhancements are planned to roll out over the course of the next few months so stayed tuned to Marketing Insights for more updates as we provide all the details you need to you know as they launch.
Paid search is best known for its ability to leverage search intent to drive highly measurable direct response marketing. Paid search, however, transmits a number of extra benefits that not all marketers take into account.
In this post, I explore three areas where paid search can drive value, even if your main goal marketing goal for this channel is driving direct response.
Research shows that over 88% of shopper’s do research online before making a purchase. With only 9% of all purchases being made online, it’s clear that digital media is driving offline transactions.
The Store Visits metric in AdWords estimates the uplift paid search has on visits to retailer’s stores. This metric is calculated based on aggregated, anonymised data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History. The data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population and only reported if it reaches a strict confidence level. Google claims that retailers are seeing, on average, that paid search drives four store visits for every one online conversion .
Building trust online is extremely valuable. All things being equal trusted advertisers will see more traffic and higher conversion rates then their competitors. Paid search ads offer a number of features that are designed to help build user confidence in the advertiser, such as these:
Review extensions allow advertisers to share positive write-ups, awards, or third-party rankings with potential customers in an additional line of text beneath your ads. The more respected the website, journal, or publication the higher value this extension is likely to bring.
Consumer ratings highlight industry-specific ratings based on consumer surveys. One or more of your best ratings will be presented below the text of your search ads together with a link to additional ratings. These ad extensions help increase trust with the power of consumer opinion.
Seller ratings are an automated extension that lets people know which advertisers are highly rated for quality service. Seller ratings are gathered from reputable sources that aggregate business reviews. Good seller ratings help build trust for your brand.
Search advertising will have an incremental effect on an advertisers branding. Seeing a brand at the top of the search results page (SERP) can have a sizable uplift in top-of-mind awareness. Paid search is also well placed to increase brand awareness amongst consumers showing high intent to purchase.
Studies have shown that on average search ads seen in position 1 will have an 80% lift in consumers top-of-mind awareness. Although paid search is not seen as a branding channel, appearing at the top of a Google or Bing SERP will transmit branding value.
Paid search may be known best for driving direct response but there is little doubt it affects other areas in the marketing ecosystem as well. Being able to measure and optimise beyond direct response will allow markers to credit paid search with more than just the direct response it drives.
One of the most overlooked settings in search marketing that produces wasted spend is geographic targeting. There’s a good chance that your paid search ads are not relevant worldwide, so why spend to show ads in irrelevant locations that do not apply to your business?
If you’re getting started with AdWords, geo-targeting will become your best friend. So, let’s get to know it a little better, understand the capabilities, and discuss some tips on how you can use it for your marketing needs.
WHO: Businesses that have location specific needs such as shipping, physical stores, or services. Or even worldwide businesses with poor campaign performances in specific geo locations. Example: If I’m a food truck that only provides service around the Financial District of San Francisco, I’d want to target ads to customers located walking distance or 2 mi away from my location during certain times of the day.
WHY: By using proper geo-targeting settings that go hand in hand with your advertising goals, you will have better control over your spend and campaigns to serve ads to relevant customers. Geo-targeting helps you reel in the right customers to your business. When you target ads in areas where your customers are, it will likely increase your ROI.
HOW: You can easily target your ads to appear in select locations such as countries, cities, or by radius. Start by logging into your AdWords account and navigating over to the campaigns tab. Then choose the campaign you want to edit and go into the settings tab. Scroll to the locations section and click on edit.
The magic begins here. Let’s dive into a quick breakdown of geo-targeting capabilities.
The most basic level is to type in the locations (country, city, state, zip, DMA) you want and then select “Add.” You can repeat this process for multiple locations.
For advanced needs such as location radius, places of interest or bulk locations, click on “Advanced search” on the settings tab.
It will open up a map with targeting options to choose from at the very top: search, radius targeting, location groups, and bulk locations.
For radius targeting, you can hone into locations within a target by mi or km:
In the location groups targeting section, there are three sections to take into consideration.
1) You can target all airports, commercial areas, and universities:
3) Lastly, you can target using your location extensions that are enabled in your campaigns by radius:
LOCATION EXCLUSION: Be sure to exclude the areas that are irrelevant within your targeting. You can do this by clicking on “Exclude” in the steps above instead of “Add.” For example, if you decide to target your ads in United States but do not service in California, be sure to exclude that location so that California searchers do not see your ads.
But wait – there’s more! Finally, you may want to click and expand the location options (advanced) box within the campaign settings tab to prevent your ads from displaying for people searching about your target location:
Edit the options below to make sure it fits your business needs.
In short, location matters – a lot! Your ad could be award-winning, but if you’re not serving it to the right audience then it may not perform successfully. This is a great tool that can help target and exclude locations, as well as help optimize campaigns.
This morning, Google announced several new AdWords updates which will become available in the coming months. Vice President of Product Management Jerry Dischler made the reveal during the AdWords Performance Forum, where he reiterated Google’s mission to help advertisers “turn signals into stories,” and emphasized that “it’s no longer about the device; it’s about the consumer.”
Let’s take a look at their feature announcements in more detail:
1) Mobile App Promotion – Google will focus on improving the ways in which advertisers drive mobile app installs, engagement, and conversions through AdWords.
Changes will include suggested keywords based on popular searches in Google Play, improved targeting options on the GDN, and deep linking in mobile app ads for users who have already downloaded an advertiser’s app.
Renewed emphasis on the mobile app space should come as no surprise. From a mobile usage perspective, the statistics are too glaring to ignore. While there have been more than 50 billion app downloads in Google Play across 190 countries, many advertisers still struggle to promote their apps and drive engagement post-download. In fact, some 60% of the available mobile apps on Google Play are never installed and over 80% of apps only get used once. According to eMarketer, more than 86% of mobile usage occurs via apps while only 14% occurs on the mobile web.
While Google was the first major advertising publisher to offer a mobile app install advertising solution (mobile app ad extensions), they’ve recently taken a backseat to Facebook. Approximately 18% of mobile app downloads now come from Facebook and Twitter, and many believe that social beats out search when it comes to app discovery and download. With these new mobile app promotion features, Google hopes to change that perception.
2) Intelligent Measurement Tools – Google will focus on more intelligent measurement tools to help advertisers make the online-offline connection.
Last year, Google released Estimated Total Conversions. Marketed as a way to illustrate how Google search campaigns affect offline conversions, it also provides an estimated impact of advertising spend in one central location (AdWords). Today, Dischler announced additional tracking for offline conversions as part of this calculation. While his description of “offline conversions” was not specific, it will likely include in-store purchases.
This renewed focus on offline conversion tracking fits with Google’s aim to be a one-stop-shop for online advertising. However, advertiser concerns about sharing first-party data necessary for improved tracking still remain. Most advertisers prefer to keep most (if not all) of their first-party data out of Google’s reach due to privacy concerns. It will be interesting to see the adoption rate of this updated Estimated Total Conversions feature given the reluctance of advertisers to share offline data with Google.
3) Intelligent Tools for Power Users – Google will focus on helping AdWords power users manage campaign complexities by adding a few sophisticated tools.
Dischler recognized some current frustrations advertisers experience with AdWords, including the difficulty of completing large-scale bulk actions across campaigns. He called them “far too complicated” and acknowledged that many users currently go outside the interface and create complex spreadsheets to get the insight they need.
To address this pain point, Google will add functionality to help advertisers more easily upload, create and edit “hundreds” of Google advertising campaigns. In addition, AdWords users can expect new reporting, visualization and testing features in the AdWords interface. For example, advertisers will soon be able to drag and drop metrics into the UI to create pivot tables and easily manipulate reports “across multiple dimensions,” similar to what many do today within Excel. Through these “Intelligent Tools,” Google hopes to provide a way to handle reporting, analytics and optimization “all within AdWords.”
This is an exciting step for Google, but it’s important to note the data is Google-specific only, so advertisers will still need to go “offline” or to a third-party platform for comprehensive, cross-channel reporting. Furthermore, Google has historically struggled when it comes to reporting on actual revenue from purchase transactions. At best, Google will provide advertisers with revenue proxies and estimates which can be used for analytics and optimization.
A Note to Our Customers
At Marin, we see these newly announced Google features as a step in the right direction to help address gaps in the AdWords interface. The new features will initially be released in closed-beta, but we look forward to working closely with Google to integrate themas they become available in the AdWords API.
As the leading digital marketing platform and largest spender through the Google API, our mission to provide the industry’s best cross-channel marketing capabilities for advertisers remains the same. As always, we value your product feedback and look forward to receiving your comments.
As a search marketer, my ultimate goal is to generate the most relevant clicks to my website and to trim the costs of my campaigns so I’m spending efficiently and optimally. Given this, my biggest enemy is irrelevant clicks because it can suck the life out of my piggy bank. While I think Google AdWords is a great channel, it can definitely run up your costs in a wasteful manner if you don’ t know what you’re doing. But when paid search is done right, it can really help drive visitors that are highly interested in your product or services.
In this quick 15 minute read, you’ll learn a few targeting option basics and how to identify where you might be wasting costs. I’ll also cover how understanding data performances will help you optimize to boost your conversions. If you’re able to pay less for clicks, your cost per conversion will also be less – and that’s a big win. For each of my suggestions below, I strongly advise you to add in the Google Conversion Pixel so that you can see the performances against your marketing goals.
Here are 3 questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Is your campaign on the Display Network?
When you’re setting up your campaign for the first time, Google Adwords will default to traffic your ads on both the “Search & Display Network.” In most cases, this isn’t the option you’re looking for. Here’s a quick breakdown of what the difference is:
There are two ways to find out if you are active on the Display Network. First is the small text above the “Settings” tab, or you can find it by clicking on the “Settings” tab and navigating over to “Type.” Here you will be able to see and change what network you are running on.
To see how your network placements are performing, click into the “Campaigns” tab, then select “Segment” and navigate to “Network”. Here you will see the breakdown per network and make strategic decisions from there.
Tip: If you are going to try out Display Network, it’s best to break it into a separate campaign so you can monitor the campaigns and bid separately. Be sure to also check the placements to see where your ads are appearing.
2. Should you be bidding on mobile devices?
The first question you should ask yourself is if your website has an optimal mobile experience. If it doesn’t then you could be wasting clicks away. You can view this data through your analytics platform to see what the engagement metrics are between mobile traffic versus computer traffic – or better, import the data from Google Analytics into Adwords to get one full view. While mobile searches are growing and it sounds great to reach new customers from any device, marketers need to realize that mobile users have different intent and behaviors than someone on a computer. For example, mobile users may encounter your ads at 7:00pm while waiting for dinner and are simply just browsing to pass the time, whereas those who are in front of a computer may be more engaged and looking for something specific with intent in mind.
Due to the way Google Adwords is setup, it’s likely that you are trafficking ads to mobile devices. To see how your mobile ads are performing, click into the “Campaigns” tab then select “Segment” and navigate to “Device.”
With the presented data, you can decide to reduce or increase the bid adjustments across your different device targeting options anywhere from 90% and +300%, or at -100% to opt out of traffic from mobile devices completely.
3. Do you know what geographic locations are high-performing or low-performing?
Let’s role-play and say that you’re a company that specializes in selling custom teddy bears and you operate in the entire United States. For some reason, the conversion rates are lower in the Midwestern states compared to all the other states you’re targeting. This is your opportunity to optimize your bids and reduce the bid adjustments.
When you set yourself up for bidding in locations with a large audience size, such as all of the United States, your reach is broadened and it’s best to put some controls so that you’re reaching locations that resonate best with your product, services, or goals. Geographic bid modifiers is a fantastic way to boost bids on high-performing locations and lower bids on poor-performing locations.
To drill in and see how geography locations are performing, click into the “Dimensions” tab then select to view “Geographic.”
With these three things in mind, don’t let irrelevant clicks drain your piggy bank. Be sure to keep tabs on your campaign, at the very least, once per week. The more informed you are about who you’re targeting, the better you can optimize to efficiency and profitability.
2013 marked the first full year of Google Shopping since the transition to a commercial model built on PLAs. With Google Shopping campaigns slated for release later this quarter, retailers must not only prepare for the upcoming changes to AdWords, but also familiarize themselves with shifting PLA trends in the new shopping landscape. To help advertisers remain competitive and win the battle for revenue online, Marin has released the 2014 annual research brief, examining the current state of Google Shopping. Analyzing year-over-year performance, with a focus on the holiday season and consumer engagement across devices, this reports provides a comprehensive breakdown of PLA performance in 2013 and insight into what retailers should expect in 2014.
Our research started by analyzing the meteoric increase in spend on PLAs throughout 2013, especially during the holiday season. Significant year-over-year increases directly linked to the rise in competition as more advertisers increased invest in PLAs, drove CPCs to historic levels. With advertisers continuing to allocate more budget towards PLAs and away from text ads, the search industry is undergoing a dramatic shift. The seemingly overnight success of PLAs and the emergence of hotel price ads (HPAs) foreshadow a search landscape where advertisers, whether in retail, automotive, or financial services, will have at their disposal richer and more engaging, industry-specific ad formats. These will undoubtedly emerge over the next two years.
The findings in this report not only impact advertisers across industries, but also how advertisers engage their customers across devices. During the holiday season, retailers witnessed shoppers favoring smartphone PLAs over its desktop and tablet counterparts. Not only were they cheaper, but smartphone PLAs also outperformed PLAs delivered on desktop and tablet devices from a CTR perspective. If 2013 was the year of mobile, or more accurately, enhanced campaigns, then 2014 is certainly the second year of mobile. Marin predicts that by December 2014, 40% of all PLA clicks will occur on smartphones. That’s a lot of clicks that retailers will need to provide a mobile optimized shopping experience for.
For more 2013 PLA trends, findings, and predictions, download our 2014 annual report, The State of Google Shopping: Mobile Shoppers & Record PLA Spend Drive Success for Retailers.
Late last month, Google introduced Shopping campaigns, a new way for retail advertisers to manage and report on Product Listing Ads. While retailers can continue running regular Product Listing Ads campaigns, Shopping campaigns offer additional flexibility and visibility that advertisers will truly appreciate. This new campaign type is only available to a select number of retailers today
, however it’s important to understand what the changes and benefits are before they’re generally available early next year.
How Do Shopping Campaigns Work?
By now retail search marketers know that Merchant Center data is critical in creating and managing Product Listing Ads. Shopping campaigns address this requirement by making all product data accessible within AdWords, removing the need to reference Merchant Center. Advertisers can now easily browse and organize their product inventory and make informed decisions about their advertising strategy within a single interface.
One of the biggest changes is the replacement of product targets with product groups. Product groups are used to select which products retailers want to bid on for a given campaign. There can be multiple product groups within a single campaign. Advertisers can subdivide inventory into customized product groups using any product attributes and the products that aren’t subdivided remain in an “Everything else” product group. Bids can then be calculated and set for individual groups.
Here’s what has and hasn’t changed:
What Are the Benefits?
There are four key benefits to using Shopping campaigns:
Let us know your thoughts on Google’s new Shopping campaigns and how you think they’ll impact your PLA strategy for 2014.
Note: At this time, shopping campaigns are not supported via the AdWords API.
In July, we talked about a new feature that Google was rolling out of beta – Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). For those still new to RLSAs, Google is now allowing advertisers to update their bids and creatives to people that have visited their website in the past. We were quite excited to try out this new feature out, see how easy (or hard) it would be to implement, and what the results would look like.
One of the hardest things about managing paid search accounts over time is staying up to date with new Google features and how it all integrates within AdWords. Account structure becomes vital as you look to keep your account organized to manage but also to generate the best possible results. While I mentioned my excitement earlier, I was also slightly stressed out over how difficult it may be to setup and manage results for yet another new campaign and set of rules.
Setup was surprisingly easy, albeit one catch:
I think the implementation was fairly easy. Cloning campaigns and creating new ads is simple enough. Again, the hardest part is potentially just managing another new campaign. This gets especially difficult for those of you managing intricate campaigns with hundreds and thousands of campaigns and ad groups.
Without divulging into too much detail on our performance, we’ve seen some good results. With the retargeting lists, we set up bid adjustments of return visitors on key ad groups and upped the bids anywhere from 20-40%. We also updated the copy and, in some cases, the offer. While the CPCs are naturally higher, the CTR and CPL are both improved for a majority if the campaigns. The volume is a lot lower than our main campaigns, but this will be mainly dependent on the number of visitors in your cookie pool.
In all, Google does a great job giving marketers the tools and resources they need to find their customers. This is another win for the advertiser. I hope many of you are taking advantage of this new feature and testing it out to see if it works as well for you. If anyone has any stories, tips, or best practices, we would love to hear them.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the first two tips in this series, check out Part 1 here. If you’re already up to speed, we’re going to pick up where we left off and discuss three more strategies to make your online retail search marketing programs a success.
3) Advertise your entire product catalog. Retailers that promote their complete product line and deliver relevant ads are able to differentiate their offerings and maximize their revenue outcomes.
4) Convert on-the-go consumers with mobile. Retailers that can successfully and engage on-the-go shoppers will be able to acquire revenue as customers move across devices.
5) Optimize for seasonal shifts. Retailers that account for seasonality will maintain an advantage and accelerate revenue outcomes during critical buying periods.
Are you a search marketer in the online retail industry? Share your tips for success in our comments section. And make sure to download a copy of our white paper, “Revenue Acquisition Management for Online Retailers,” for more in-depth discussion of these winning strategies.
Retailers face unique challenges in the battle for online revenue. And in this highly competitive space, technological inefficiencies and the inability to execute effectively on paid search strategies results in higher costs, lower margins, and missed opportunities.
Marin Software studied some of the world’s largest and most successful retailers, and identified 5 strategies for success. Read on for ideas to improve your own search marketing programs.
1) Allocate your budget efficiently. Retailers that efficiently allocate their budgets are able to maximize revenue without increasing spend.
2) Capitalize on brand equity to beat out the competition. Retailers that do this are able to maximize ad visibility and create engaging brand experiences.
Stay tuned for three more strategies, coming soon. And for more information, download our white paper, “Revenue Acquisition Management for Online Retailers.” The white paper reviews the challenges in executing each strategy and highlights tools and techniques for addressing them. It’s a must-read for any search marketer in the online retail vertical.