In the US, more than 166 million people – 53% of the population – own a smartphone. We carry them with us wherever we go. So, it’s no surprise smartphones are a key target of advertisers and e-commerce providers. The vision of smartphones replacing wallets is just too good to pass up. Case in point, Apple just announced Apple Pay payment solution in conjunction with the iPhone 6 launch.
But just how likely are consumers to use their phones to make purchases outside of a new app or scheduling an Uber pickup? To gauge consumer interest in using smartphones to complete transactions, we thought we’d take a look at the performance of Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on smartphones and desktops.
PLAs are unique in that they are predominantly used by retailers to showcase a product; so, we aren’t seeing consumers react to ads for services or information. Also, unless you’re in the market for a new Razor Scooter, odds are you aren’t going to search and click on an ad for one. Consequently, PLAs are a good barometer for getting a pulse on consumer online shopping behavior.
First off, the click-through rate (CTR) of PLAs on smartphones is higher. The gap varies, but more recently in June, 2014 the CTR of smartphones was 33% higher than desktops. This would indicate consumers seem to favor their smartphones for browsing and researching products. Makes sense. For the last few years, the story has been that smartphones are used to research but when it comes time to pulling the trigger, the transaction either takes place on a desktop or in a store. A smartphone is rarely used to complete the transaction.
To answer that question, we looked at the conversion rate of PLAs for smartphones versus desktops. Since these are ads for specific products, the likelihood of a conversion rate for a PLA being a transaction is very high. Desktops still rein king when it comes to completing transactions with a conversion rate 135% higher than smartphones in June; however, what’s interesting is the growth in conversion rate on smartphones.
Year over year, the conversion rate for PLAs on smartphones has increased 120%. But what does this mean? It means consumers are completing more transactions on their smartphones. This is likely due to not only familiarity and comfort with doing so but also retailers and technology providers like Google making the transaction process easier and much more mobile friendly.
Get ready to ditch your wallets.
As summer winds down and the upcoming school year looms, it looks like parents get back to Facebooking. Looking at the seasonality of clicks across Facebook, Google, and Bing it appears Facebook experiences a huge surge in clicks as summer comes to a close, more than likely brought on by back-to-school-itis.
In July, as we become fixated with fun in the sun, Facebook experiences its second lowest volume of ad clicks at a level 25% below the baseline (January). Makes sense. There are road trips and barbecues to get to. But as summer starts to give into fall and we begin to accept the onslaught of responsibilities that come with the change in season, ad clicks on Facebook climb. In fact it’s a 38 point swing from July to August. From there on out it is pretty much up and to the right for Facebook the remainder of the year as back-to-school gives way to the holiday season.
On the other hand, Search (Google and Bing) remain fairly consistent throughout the year with the typical rise in the fourth quarter due to the holiday frenzy. It appears Facebook is influenced much more by seasonality throughout the year. I suspect it has to do with the social nature of the site. Search benefits from being a more utilitarian medium that become an integral part of our lives even when on vacation. Also, Google and Bing have been at the game a little longer while Facebook is still figuring out how best to monetize its user base. Likewise, advertisers have a solid decade and a half of experience with search under their belts; tweaking campaigns to fit the seasons is a known exercise.
Will be interesting to see how soon the seasonality of Facebook clicks start to mirror search.
Have some thoughts you’d like to ad? Be sure to post them in the comments section below!
Last Thursday, Google announced that exact keyword match will now include close variant keywords as well. Many of you may be wondering what this means for your campaigns and what action is required on your part. We’re here to assure that there is no reason to panic!
For some background, advertisers currently have two options when it comes to matching ads to search queries: 1.) Only show the ad when the query exactly matched the keywords they set up in AdWords, or 2.) Allow Google to also match the ad to keywords and phrases that are very similar to the original one, including variations like plurals or misspellings. Starting in late September, the first option is going away and Google will always automatically include all of these close variants when it tries to match an ad to a search query. Today’s announcement only applies to what Google calls the “phrase match” and “exact match” options. As the name implies, exact match only shows the ad when the query exactly matched the keyword (e.g. “women’s hats”), while phrase match also shows it when the query includes other words (e.g. “buy women’s hats”).
While this change may initially be perceived as burdensome to Google advertisers who prefer tight control over their exact and phrase matched keywords, it does offer some benefit to advertisers. Namely, following the September update, Google advertisers will no longer have to build long lists of misspelled, abbreviated, and other close variations of keywords to get the coverage they want. Therefore, this update can help Google advertisers better manage keyword complexity across large Search programs.
Although Google is marketing this change as a benefit to advertisers, Marin recommends that our advertisers closely monitor their campaigns to determine how the September changes will impact their overall performance.
Google Shopping campaigns are a great opportunity for retail advertisers to review their current PLA campaigns and optimize them for even better results. However, as many retailers are managing sometimes millions of products across thousands of brands and hundreds of feeds, adapting to and mastering the new Shopping campaigns system can seem like a huge undertaking.
Below we’ve provided seven tips to help you succeed during (and well after) the campaign migration process:
Going beyond basic campaign management strategy, advertisers can obtain additional control and visibility over Shopping campaigns by following more advanced tips:
For more best practices to ensure a seamless transition to Google Shopping campaigns, check out our full-length guide here.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the new changes and functionalities you can expect from Google Shopping campaigns, it’s time to nail down where to start in your transition prior to the August rollout.
The first thing to note is that regardless of how an advertiser’s existing PLA campaigns are set up today, there are several steps that they will need to take to migrate these campaigns over to the new Shopping campaigns in a smooth and seamless manner. Here’s where to start:
Once Google Shopping campaigns are up and running, advertisers should monitor and analyze performance metrics to ensure that they are getting their desired results. These performance metrics should also be used to determine how to best optimize their campaigns going forward.
While the features of Google Shopping campaigns are aimed at providing advertisers with an improved and more streamlined user experience, you should also be aware of the changes that have been made to some existing functionality with the same objectives in mind. Below is a rundown of what’s changed:
Now that you’re armed with the tools to begin making this transition, be sure to stay tuned for tips on how to get the most out of your Google Shopping campaigns once you’ve gotten started.
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.
Over the past couple days, you likely heard some alarming reports speculating on changes in how Google passes data to analytics software and advertisers. This understandably created lots of buzz, but today we have the facts as reported in Google’s official Ads Developer Blog:
“Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com.
Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimize and improve their campaigns and landing pages. For example, you can access detailed information in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.”
Marin Software will continue to receive keyword data from Google. Conversion and revenue tracking, reporting, and analytics will not be disrupted. Our CMO Matt Ackley explained, “As an AdWords API partner, Marin Software leverages keyword data – separate from search query data – in providing its market-leading analytics, campaign management and optimization capabilities.”
For customers leveraging Marin Tracker, Tracker will no longer be used as a source for keyword expansion. However, Marin’s Keyword Expansion tool will continue to bring in keyword suggestions via the publisher search query reports for both Google and Bing, which provide the majority of keyword suggestions today. If you’re using Tracker and have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your customer success team.
We look forward to business as usual, helping our customers to be the best marketers in the industry.
In February, Google Shopping campaigns became available to all advertisers globally. Shopping campaigns redefined the way retail advertisers manage and report on Product Listing Ads, offering additional flexibility, visibility, and control marketers truly appreciate. Though advertisers can continue managing standard PLA campaigns successfully, Google announced today that all advertisers must fully transition to Shopping campaigns by late August 2014. After this date, advertisers will no longer be able to manage PLAs through standard Search campaigns, and all remaining PLA campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Shopping campaigns. This transition, similar to enhanced campaigns, represents a challenge and opportunity for retail advertisers.
What Do I Need To Do?
From now until the transition date, advertisers can continue managing and optimizing PLAs through standard Search campaigns. Since the auction landscape for PLAs was not affected by the introduction of Shopping campaigns or the mandatory transition, advertisers can continue running standard campaigns without adversely impacting PLA performance. Keep in mind Shopping campaigns and standard campaigns can run in tandem, ensuring the transition process can be executed successfully over time and according to retailers’ business needs.
How Do I Migrate?
There are five critical steps for transitioning to Google Shopping campaigns:
1. Prepare your feed for transition.
Review your product_type, adwords_labels, and adwords_grouping values. Products you plan to target as a group and bid on using product_type should have exactly the same value in the product_type attribute. Keep in mind that product types can only be subdivided five times.
For shopping campaigns, adwords_labels and adwords_grouping attributes aren’t supported. The new custom_label attribute can be used instead; however it’s limited to five labels per product.
2. Plan your transition process.
Take time to plan out your transition and consider restructuring your PLA strategy according to best practices and business needs. For advertisers managing a large number of product targets, a phased transition schedule is recommended.
3. Create a Google Shopping campaign.
For a single transition, create a Shopping campaign and subdivide product groups based on performance and business needs, then pause the old PLA campaign.
For a phased transition, create a Shopping campaign and systematically subdivide high volume and top performing products; pausing old PLA targets as new objects are created in your new Shopping campaign. If new groups don’t map directly to existing targets, you’ll need to have both PLA campaigns active, setting the new Shopping campaign priority setting to “high.”
4. Subdivide products within your new Shopping campaign.
Keep in mind that advertisers get performance data at all levels for all products, regardless of how product groups are organized. However, since product groups can only be subdivided five times, how these groups are organized becomes very important. It’s recommended that advertisers subdivide product groups first by product attributes that support more granular, subsequent subdivisions. For example, product_type > brand > id.
5. Analyze and optimize.
As with any transition and migration, be sure to monitor performance and ensure all of your products are receiving consistent coverage and driving similar outcomes. Review and familiarize yourself with the new CPC and CTR benchmark metrics as well as impression share. These will provide insight into the auction landscape and enable you to make smarter decisions when optimizing bids and product groups.
For additional guidance, please review Google’s recommended steps for transitioning to Shopping campaigns and work with your solution provider to establish an appropriate timeline.
What’s Marin’s Timeline for Support?
A beta program for Google Shopping campaigns will become available well in advance of the transition date. General availability for campaign management, streamlined reporting, URL Builder functionality, and integrated bid optimization is scheduled shortly after the conclusion of the beta. For more information on Marin’s Shopping campaigns beta, release schedule, and transition plan, please contact your customer engagement and customer success teams.
Despite increasing complexity and competition, paid search advertising budgets are expected to work harder and drive more revenue than ever before. Unfortunately, marketers continue to struggle with driving relevancy and increasing engagement. For the most part, the challenge is that keywords, creative, and bid strategy remain the same for every search and every searcher. Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) address this challenge by enabling advertisers to optimize campaigns based on user demographics and behavioral attributes. Though the list of use cases for RLSAs is likely endless, here are three strategies used by Marin customers today that underscore the power and flexibility that RLSAs bring to any paid search program.
I Know Where You Clicked Last Session
A user who’s been to your website is more likely to convert in a subsequent visit. With RLSAs, you can increase ad visibility and continue driving customers down the purchase funnel by adjusting ad creative and bids for users who previously visited your website.
By adding visitors who navigated to deeper parts of your website, such as category and product pages, to remarketing lists, you can build highly targeted campaigns that rely on more relevant ads. Creative that include buying signals like “act now” or “buy today,” along with promotional offers, engage repeat visitors. Coupled with optimal bid adjustments, these strategies drive downstream conversions and revenue from visitors who are closer to the bottom of the purchase funnel.
Navigational Searches Cost $$$
Though there are benefits to bidding on brand terms—controlling brand messaging, combating aggressive competitors, increasing SERP real estate, and providing deep links via sitelinks—these tactics tend to address engagement with new customers, as opposed to existing ones.
With RLSAs, you can effectively eliminate navigational searches by building lists for existing customers who are logged into their profile or account. These users are already paying customers or have converted into active profiles yet continue to click on paid ads to navigate to your website. This behavior ultimately results in wasted ad spend. By integrating first-party, customer-oriented data into RLSAs, you can reallocate budget away from navigational searches in favor of targeting and engaging new users. This strategy is highly effective for subscription-based products and services.
Driving Repeat Customers
Soft goods and services are often repurchased and renewed. For instance, pet food might be purchased every month or an insurance policy renewed every six months. Understanding when customers are likely to become repeat customers enables you to leverage RLSAs to increase the lifetime value of your customers.
For example, take a financial services company that requires customers to renew their subscription every quarter. With visibility into their first-party data, which includes subscription start and ends dates, this advertiser could generate two remarketing lists, one for recent subscriptions and another for upcoming renewals. Generating an RLSA for customers with recent subscriptions, the advertiser can decrease bids on expensive, generic keywords for these new customers. On the other hand, creating an RLSA for customers who are coming up for renewal, allows the advertiser to increase bids on those same keywords to increase ad visibility and drive renewals. This strategy enables advertisers to pay more for clicks that are more likely to convert and eliminate those that are less likely to convert.
A Few Things to Remember
As you start to think about how these strategies will benefit your paid search program, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
Are there other RLSA strategies that you’ve executed on with impressive results?
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.
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