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Great product data is at the core of what drives successful Product Listing Ads (PLAs). As you’re preparing your Shopping campaigns for the upcoming holiday season, it’s important to ensure that your data is free of issues so your products are shown to shoppers. To help identify issues with your product data, we're excited to introduce the Diagnostics tab in Google Merchant Center.

The Diagnostics tab provides consolidated issue reporting for your Merchant Center account, feeds, and items. Through this tab, which replaces the Data Quality tab, you gain better insight into the health of your product data, making it easier and faster to prioritize key issues and get your products online.

The new Diagnostics tab also features new reporting tools to find:

  • A historic overview of item eligibility status to spot and investigate changes that have caused recent item disapprovals
  • A downloadable report containing all affected items and the reasons for disapprovals
  • Traffic and impact metrics to help you identify how many items are currently impacted by specific issues

Try out the new Diagnostics tab today in your Merchant Center account. To learn more about changes to the tab, visit our Help Center.

Posted by Tom Beyer and Sven Herschel, Product Management, Google Shopping

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Want to get more impressions and clicks for your Shopping campaigns? Or want to know how to spot missed opportunities in your bidding strategy and find your mobile share of voice? We introduced competitive landscape data last year so you can start answering those burning questions, and today, we’re excited to announce a handful of additions that’ll help you find new ways to optimize your Shopping campaigns and engage shoppers on all devices.
  • Auction insights report lets you compare your Product Listing Ad (PLA) performance to other advertisers participating in the same auctions as you are. With impression share, overlap rate and outranking share, you’re able to see trends amongst your peers and strategic opportunities to improve your bidding strategies.
  • Search impression share has been revamped to be more useful and aligned with text ads. You can now analyze your share of voice at the granularity you want with Search impression share in the Dimensions tab. You’ll know which campaigns are limited by a low budget with Lost IS (budget) and which ones need further optimization with Lost IS (rank). Note that we now calculate Search impression share at account level so you may notice a change in impression share between October and November.
  • Device and time segmentation are available to help you refine your bid modifier strategy. You can see if your peers received more mobile impressions than you over the weekend with the Auction insights report segmented by device and day.
  • Bid simulator columns show you what your advertising results could’ve been had you set different bids. You can add these columns in your Product groups tab and, for example, find product groups that’ll drive the most incremental clicks.
  • Flattened view of your product groups presents another way to analyze your performance. It allows you to sort your product groups within an ad group based on performance data and easily identify which to optimize. For example, you can sort by impression share, find a few product groups with the lowest impression share, and fine-tune those bids within a matter of clicks.
We hope these additions will help you identify easy-wins for the holidays and unlock new, more actionable ways to optimize your Shopping campaigns. We’ll continue to explore other reporting needs so you have relevant and useful data at your fingertips. Visit our help center articles for more information on Auction insights, Search impression share, bid simulator columns, and the flattened product groups view.

Posted by Dimitris Meretakis, Product Manager, Google Shopping

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Two years ago, we launched Merchant Promotions to retailers in the US, enabling them to show promotions alongside Product Listing Ads on Google search results and Google Shopping. Based on positive feedback, we’re excited to make Merchant Promotions available to retailers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and India.
Example of Merchant Promotions on Product Listing Ads on Google.com
Example of Merchant Promotions on Google Shopping
Participating US retailers have seen improved performance from their Product Listing Ads. For example, Venus’s PLAs with Merchant Promotions had a seven percent higher clickthrough rate (CTR), a two percent higher conversion rate, and an 11 percent lower cost-per-click (CPC) than their standard PLAs. Read more about Venus’ success with Merchant Promotions here.

Get started with Merchant Promotions
If you’re interested in learning more about Merchant Promotions or planning on running promotions this holiday season, please review this Getting Started Guide and fill out the interest form to get in touch with our team.

Posted by Christina Ilvento, Product Manager, Google Shopping

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The Internet gives us more to look at every day: more information, more reviews, more offers. In fact, 49% of customers now visit 2 to 4 sites before they decide to buy1. One powerful lever to re-engage these qualified customers and close the sale is RLSA.

To help you make the most of RLSA, we’re excited to introduce our new best practices guide, “Winning the Second Chance.” It answers important questions like these:
  • What’s the most efficient and effective way to tag your site? 
  • Which types of remarketing lists should you focus on? 
  • By how much should you raise your RLSA bid adjustment? 
  • What advanced strategies can you use to expand volume? 
Download Winning the Second Chance to win your customers over in the moments that matter and to make the most of your RLSA campaigns.

Posted by Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing

1Google/Compete Sporting Goods Study: (Sept 2011-Sept 2012) Clickstream BF02 (number of different brands)

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Automating your bids with AdWords can deliver better, more informed bids while saving you time.

In order to help people make the most of these strategies, we’ve put together A Bid for Every Auction, our new guide to Google’s automated bidding solutions. This best practices guide is for anyone looking to implement or improve their automated bidding.

This guide covers key topics like:
  • An in-depth look at auction-time bidding and why it’s important to take advantage of it 
  • Choosing the automated strategy that makes the most sense for your account 
  • The best way to test bid automation in your account 
  • Making a successful automated campaign perform even better 
If you’re considering taking the plunge with automated bidding, or if you already have and want to improve performance, download our guide or the one-page version of our automated bidding checklist today. Smart automation can lead to better results and more time saved.

Check out these and other Google Best Practices over at g.co/GoogleBP.

Posted by Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing

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A few months ago, we announced ad customizers, a tool for optimizing your ad text and connecting with your customers in real-time. This kicked off a series of Tools for the Power User built to help you simplify campaign management, and act on key business insights at scale.

As the holiday season approaches, advertisers are busy ensuring their campaigns are set up for success, making it more important than ever to manage time-sensitive updates and make changes to your campaigns quickly and efficiently.

This month, we’re turning our focus to scalable and efficient workflow management in AdWords. Our goal is to help you find time-saving ways to manage these tasks at scale using simpler, integrated workflows within AdWords, so you can focus on your core business.

Our workflow tools fall into three core areas:

1. Bulk editing directly within AdWords

Advertisers need to manage multiple campaign tasks directly in the AdWords interface more efficiently. We’ve added new tools for editing your settings and extensions in bulk across your campaigns and ad groups. For example, you can edit location targeting or ad rotation settings across multiple campaigns, or update your ad extensions -- like sitelinks, callouts, and apps -- to promote your latest holidays deals across hundreds of your ad groups with just a few clicks.
Change multiple sitelinks using the Edit menu in your +Extensions tab
CarsDirect.com was able to add sitelinks across its accounts using the new bulk editing features, and saw a 13% increase in CTR, and 6% decrease in CPC. Allison Query from CarsDirect says, “The bulk feature for ad extensions has been crucial for keeping us competitive in the search results! It has trimmed our work time from hours to minutes."

You can also take advantage of other existing bulk workflows supported in AdWords to scale your work. Save time by using the copy and paste feature to swiftly copy over your existing keyword lists, ads, and ad groups into your new campaigns.

2. Improved tools for uploading changes in bulk
Advertisers need easier ways to make quick changes offline in spreadsheets, and apply them directly into AdWords where and when they need them. The improvements to bulk uploads include more intuitive spreadsheet formats, in-context options to upload changes directly into the appropriate campaigns and ad groups, and the ability to preview your updates and check for errors before posting them. Now, you can quickly upload new seasonal keywords into your ad groups, update your budgets across several campaigns, and post your changes with confidence because you can review them before you post them.
Review your spreadsheet edits with the preview tool before applying them to your campaigns
3. Advanced tools for more customized changes across your accounts
Earlier this year we launched AdWords Scripts for MCC to help advertisers with more complex editing needs quickly make customized changes across multiple accounts. You can use simple JavaScript code to make cross-account changes, create customized reports, send automated emails, and even pull data into and out of Google Spreadsheets. Learn more.

Many agencies are using AdWords Scripts for MCC to power customized ad text changes across their customers’ accounts, save time, increase relevancy, and improve their ad performance. iProspect uses Adwords Scripts to dynamically insert sitelinks into Cleartrip’s ad units and change their landing pages on the fly, resulting in a 34% increase in CTR and 24% decrease on Cost-of-Acquisition. Performics is using AdWords Scripts for MCC to update ad parameters with real-time discounts across their customer's accounts. Using MCC scripts for MonShowroom, Performics cut their workflow time by 60%.

These are just some of the tools we’ve created to help you move faster, and make changes at scale across AdWords. Stay tuned as we continue to improve AdWords Editor -- another important tool to help with complex changes at scale. New updates are coming soon!

Check out our Hangout on Air on Tuesday, November 4th at 9:30 am PST / 12:30 PM EST to learn how you can put these tools to work in your campaigns.

Posted by Ali Miller, Product Manager, AdWords

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The trend of profit-driven marketing continues to gain traction.  Marketers are starting to shift the perception that they should really be viewed as profit drivers instead of cost centers.

Last quarter, we launched two resources to help you drive the conversation about profits from AdWords:
We hope that these guides have started some very interesting discussions across  your organization, most notably around how important marketing’s role is for growth.

To help advertisers bring these conversations to life, we’re excited to share our latest best practices guide called Making a Bid for Profit - Profit-Driven Bidding Tactics with AdWords.

This guide will show you how to:
  • Discover profitable opportunities by running manual bid tests
  • Find these opportunities faster by testing on a broader scale, and 
  • Save time by scaling your bidding strategy so it’s easier to manage. 
Consider this a treasure map for finding untapped profits in your account. Download the guide today.  Happy hunting!

You can check out more Google Best Practices at g.co/GoogleBP.

Posted by Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing

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Updated Nov 5 to include a link to the AdWords Express iOS app

Originally posted on the Google and Your Business Blog

Running a successful small business is about finding and connecting with the right customers. Business owners are increasingly using their smartphones, and so today we are making enhancements to both the Google My Business and the AdWords Express apps. We hope this makes it easier to find the right customers, whether they are looking for you at their desktop computer or on their phone on the go.

See reviews and insights in Google My Business
Nothing makes your day like a great review from a happy customer. Starting today, business owners can see reviews from across the web in the Google My Business Android app (iOS update soon). Business users have told us how much customers appreciate a response, so we are also making it possible to respond to Google reviews in the app, along with real-time alerts if you want to keep a pulse on your reputation online.

Wondering how customers are using their smartphones to get in touch with your business? When people find you on Google, you can see when they call or from where they get driving directions, so you can be prepared for that next manic Monday rush.

Reach new customers with advertising
Finding more of the right customers doesn’t have to wait until you’re at your desk. Over the last few months, we’ve gotten great feedback about how easy it is to advertise with our AdWords Express mobile app, and today we are expanding the Android app to 20 additional countries (iOS coming soon).
When you advertise your business through AdWords Express, you can reach potential customers right when they’re searching for the product or service that you sell. Your top stats for the month are displayed in the Google My Business app, and you can switch over to AdWords Express to see more detail or edit the ad to promote your next big event.

These changes will be rolling out over the next few days, so check back soon if you don’t yet see the updates. For more information about the mobile apps, visit the Google My Business and AdWords Express help centers.

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We've all heard the theories that people who do research online no longer care about the in-store experience … or don't even go to physical stores any more. Or that shoppers who use a smartphone in a store are looking to buy elsewhere.

Google decided to find out how much of this is true. We've just run a research study1 with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands with the goal of discovering how smartphones and online information have changed the in-store experience.

The results, as they say, may surprise you.

The full details are available at Think With Google. But here's a sneak peek at what we learned.

First, the study confirmed two things most of us have suspected:
  • Yes, today's consumers are better-informed than ever before. 
  • They crave information throughout the shopping process, and often use smartphones to get it.
But we also learned that three pieces of "common wisdom" were really more like myths:

Myth #1: Search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites.

The reality: The things people find in search results actually can send them to local stores. In fact, 3 in 4 people who said they found local information in search results helpful also said what they learned made them more likely to visit a store.

Myth #2: Once an in-store shopper starts looking at her smartphone, the store has lost her attention and her sale.

The reality: In-store smartphone moments are actually a good opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores to connect with shoppers and to help them make a decision. 46% of those shoppers say they look at the retailer's own site or app for information. Only 30% look up details from a different retailer’s web site or app.

Myth #3: With so much information available online, shoppers only go to stores to transact.

The reality: Shoppers actually want more, not less, out of their in-store experience. They want informed, customized experiences. 69% of shoppers said they gathered information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle. The catch is that 2 out of 3 shoppers said they didn't find all the info they wanted.

What does it all mean? Simply this: smartphones are a friend, not an enemy, to in-store shopping.

There are new opportunities for brands and stores to engage with customers in creative ways before, during, and after the customer’s shopping journey — one that may begin online and end up in-store. Search results, mobile ads, and mobile sites and apps can be magnets that draw consumers into stores and engage them while they're there. Smartphones and online information can also be a powerful way to create customized experiences for the consumer.

We discovered plenty of surprising insights in our study. See all the details at Think With Google. Plus, check out videos of Macy's, REI, and Sephora marketing execs sharing their approach for linking digital to store here.

Posted by Bao Lam, Product Marketing Manager, Adwords

1Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping, October 2014.

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Originally posted on the Google Analytics blog

Plan ahead.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the holiday rush begin earlier and earlier. And we’ve also noticed that the shopping frenzy is extending beyond the traditional season, with transaction rates in 2013 boasting lifts even after Christmas. These trends make for a lot of opportunity for online retailers, but you need to play your cards right. The most important thing you can do to ensure seasonal success is to plan your digital strategy now.  We’ve analyzed transaction behavior from a portion of our Google Analytics accounts over the 2013 holiday season to develop a guide for seasonal success.

Which days drive the most transactions?

In order to develop a successful holiday retail strategy, it’s important to first understand the days that drive the most sales for your business. Once you understand this, you can craft a strategy that optimizes your media and promotion not only for these days, but for the entire holiday season.

As digital retailers are well aware, Cyber Monday is THE digital shopping day of the year.  It generates the most transactions of any single day and, in 2013, saw a transaction rate lift of 170% over average.  In second place is Black Friday, a day that has increased in digital importance over the last three years. By 2013, the transaction rate on Black Friday was 114% higher than average.  Beyond these two stars, the table below shows you the top days in 2013 by transaction volume and the lift in transactions rates on each day.
In general, beyond Cyber Monday and Black Friday, the Mondays and Tuesdays before Christmas in December tend to generate the highest volume of transactions.  Interestingly, the highest transaction days are not correlated to the days with the most sessions (traffic to your site), so avoid using the top session days as a proxy for the top transaction days.
How can I drive sales on the top transaction days?

The holiday season generates some of the highest transaction rate spikes and the lowest dips for the entire year. In order to drive digital sales successfully, it’s important that you adjust your bids for auction-based media, such as search ads, appropriately to account for higher transaction rates on key dates and throughout the season.  As you navigate the holiday season, use the lift in transaction rates over the average transaction rate as your bid multiplier for auction-based media (learn more about bid adjustments). This adjustment schedule reflects the increased value of clicks that are more likely to convert, and helps ensure that you stay ahead of competitors and get in front of the right consumers. The transaction rate lift for the top days are shown in the table above, while the chart below gives you an idea of the lift for the weeks surrounding the holiday season.
As you can see, the top days generate some of the biggest transaction rate lifts, but there’s also plenty of upside in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving as well as right before Christmas.  A smart retailer will generate a bid schedule for the entire season, starting 4-5 weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Marketing to consumers is notoriously tricky and often trend-driven, making the holiday season a difficult and uncertain time for retailers. However, with proper pre-season preparation, digital retailers can set themselves up for seasonal success in 2014.  If you’re a Google Analytics user, you can tailor this analysis and approach to your business, using your own data and the data available in our benchmarking tool.  For more strategies for the holiday season, check out our holiday tips blog post and best practices checklist.

About the Data

In order to perform this analysis, we looked at billions of sessions across millions of Google Analytics accounts. We used session and transaction trends; and we looked at the percentage of sessions that included a transaction to calculate transaction rates. The data includes only accounts that have authorized Google to share website data in an anonymous way (read more). For questions, comments, or praise please contact us at gaqi@google.com

Posted by Daniel Waisberg and Jocelyn Whittenburg from the Google Analytics team.