Google launches new features for mobile shopping moments

Overnight the search giant announced a suite of features to make shopping easier than ever once a product is discovered via its search results. Mobile conversions have lagged desktop primarily because of poor mobile navigation and conversion experiences.

This has resulted in smartphones being used to research and compare, before the final purchase is made on laptop/desktop or in-store. The new features enhance the search results by bringing all the tools a user needs to purchase into the search results page. Presumably the move by other competitors (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.) to launch buy functionalities in recent months has stirred Google into its own Buy version.

POG - Under Armour The most compelling feature is called Purchases on Google which allows users to pay for a  product using a Google checkout process. Here’s how the Adwords blog describes the process:

When a shopper searches on mobile for a product such as “women’s hoodies”, she may see a  shopping ad with ‘Buy on Google’ text. After clicking the ad, she’s taken to a retailer-branded  product page hosted by Google. Checkout is seamless, simple, and secure, thanks to saved  payment credentials in her Google Account.

Other features include expanding Product Listing Ads, two new shopping cards in Google Now  and the ability to directly link to retailers apps from their shopping ads.

All these features will be a boon for retailers who lack the time and resource to overhaul their  current mobile landing pages. The added functionality doesn’t appear to cost advertisers any more but will certainly entice them to invest more in mobile search on Google in future.

 

Advertisements

Some Questions ahead of the Adwords Enhanced Campaigns roll-out

The new Adwords Enhanced Campaigns interface is being introduced to agencies over the next week with training webinars lined up from this Friday. Search meetings all week have been dominated by speculation over what the changes would mean. While all will presumably be explained and any loose ends smoothened out eventually, I started to put down a list of questions for myself that I thought I’d share here. Bear in mind, I’ve purposely stayed away from reading articles on the change outside of the Adwords blog or having speculative discussions with colleagues. So if some of the updates you’ve read on the internet this week have already addressed some of my questions please excuse me for that.

Structure

Plenty of studies have highlighted how the 3 screens have different usage patterns … why then have PCs and tablets been combined.

If intuitively I know that some campaigns are better suited to a particular device eg End Funnel terms convert better for PCs, how do I shift my weightage to favour one device if the budget is shared.

Search managers have shied away from implementing too many separate mobile campaigns as everyone in the industry is time poor. With every keyword (anywhere between 10,000 to 80,000 in some accounts) now opted in to mobile by default, the required oversight and attention to detail has increased probably more than the savings expected by merging all device targeting.

Keywords

Does an individual keyword have a separate Quality Score for each device or a single one affected by performance (CTR etc) on each device?

Will separate destination urls be assigned to the same keyword for PCs/tablets and mobiles to account for different domains eg full site vs m.site. Campaign managers have been adding unique parameters to urls by device so web analytics systems can differentiate and stack incoming traffic in dashboards.

Bidding

In the introductory post, Adwords mentioned that bid multipliers could be applied to have differential bids by device or other contexts like location, time of day etc. Will these multipliers be at the campaign level i.e. apply to every keyword in the campaign or can they be assigned at the individual keyword level.

Large agencies use goal-based (traffic, CPA, position) bidding at the keyword level. Will the new Adwords interface be mirrored in the bid management platform to be able to still set keyword bidding (and different bids for different devices for the same keyword)

How long until 3rd party SEM management platforms used by large agencies, are ready to work with Enhanced Campaigns. Some platforms are yet to offer support for one-year old features like Adwords for Video.

Creative

Presumably there will be separate sets of ads and site-link extensions (click to call, location etc) by device. eg if an advertiser utilizes branch phone numbers from his Google Places account for PCs but a nationwide 1300 number for mobile search phone extensions.

Will there be an easy way to vary extensions by day-part, eg make phone extensions invisible post work hours when a customer service number is unmanned.

Will separate reporting on site-link extensions be available by device. Will we ever get individual site-link reporting as well. Fingers crossed.

Miscellaneous

Is Adwords for Video also going to adopt the compulsory mobile opt-in interface. With tablets largely used as a personal entertainment device, this is one landscape where I would strongly recommend tablets being separated from PC’s so in-search and in-stream bids can be set accordingly.

When I create a display remarketing campaign with banners, is this also an all-device campaign. Should I create separate audience lists (one of mobile visitors and one non-mobile) and can I then use both in the one re-marketing campaign with separate creative.

Well that’s my list I’ll be taking into the training session. If you’ve got any additional areas I’ve missed please ping me. All the best.

eMarketer predicts Paid Search to dominate US Mobile Ad Spending by 2015

According to a latest press release by eMarketer, US Mobile Ad Spending will touch $4.4 bn by 2015 driven by smartphone and mobile internet adoption.  The release also provides a year by year breakdown by format, which shows mobile paid search growing 57% CAGR from 2010 to be the No.1 format by 2015.

eMarketer Mobile Ad Spend Forecast

To date, messaging-based formats have been the lead choice for advertisers as mobile experiences have been limited by screen experience on older feature phones. With the high uptake of feature-rich smart phones starting with the iPhone and then accelerated by Android phones, this is no longer an issue.

This blog has already advocated reasons why mobile search is important in 2011. Advertisers must start setting up test and learn experiments using enhancements like click-to-call and location extensions that I have written about before. Google is now factoring in mobile search optimisation into quality scores for mobile search ads which means mobile optimised sites benefit more.

Word of Mouth and Internet – Google Study

Every marketer recognizes that Word of mouth conversations are the holy grail of advertising, helping to amplify paid campaign buzz and give messages longevity far beyond booked media schedule periods.

A new study on Googles Think Insight website explores the  relationship between the Internet and WOM conversations. Not surprisingly, the study emphasizes the role of search at all stages of conversations.

Google WOM & Internet Study

Some key findings:

1. The Internet is the #1 spark for WOM conversations and the first source for information after
2. WOM impressions generated by search are 27% more credible and 35%  more likely to lead to a purchase decision, compared to online or social media.
3. Smartphone users reference Internet a lot around WOM conversations

Implications
1. Increase SEM budget before and during a new campaign to capture impressions at all stages.
2. Bid on campaign related themes and words.
3. Send traffic to a microsite or YouTube channel so users can get more information (prices, buying locations) and continue discussions online.
4. Use advanced ad scheduling to upweight spending around TV spots when conversations are likely to spike (often at home)
5. Create separate mobile  campaigns for smartphone users

Have you used search to capture incremental campaign related queries? Please share your experiences with us in this blogs comments section.

Is your PPC Campaign tool on Red Bull?

If you follow Formula One racing you will know that Red Bull are suddenly the team to beat in 2011, staying ahead of established teams like Ferrari that have ex-champion drivers in their ranks. Much of their new found competitiveness is down to them now having the best car, which counts immensely in this most technology dependent of premier world sports.

PPC marketing is analogous to Formula One in some ways in that the pre-requisites for success are similar. Both need a top-notch driver (Campaign Manager), race strategy (Campaign Optimisations), an experienced team principal (Account Director) and the best in line race car/engine (PPC Campaign Management tool).

As I read a recently released report on PPC Campaign Management tools by Search Marketing Now, I was left to ponder on the extent we as Paid Search marketers are dependent on our own PPC tools. So is it all about the tool?

I think a good tool can certainly improve campaign efficiency and outcomes especially with large accounts (portfolio of products/brands, active keywords >20,000,  multiple online channels). A PPC tool allows campaign teams to automate campaign tasks and provides complex reporting, competitive analysis and cross channel attribution insights all in one place. This frees time to focus on work that cannot be automated, like creative writing, forecasting, developing long term strategies, setting up tests and staying up to date with new search enhancements.

I have optimised many campaigns manually or simply through Adwords Editor and the Google/Yahoo interfaces with equal ease though I admit it does increase time required. The decision on whether to rely on a 3rd party tool or to what degree, depends on each Campaign Managers style and the complexity of the account. SMBs and SEM consultants running small or seasonal campaigns might often find working with free tools simpler and cost effective. If you are undecided, the report has a useful section on the pros and cons of campaign automation.

Here is a snapshot comparing the leading PPC management tools.  Disclaimer: I have not used any of the tools myself so cannot endorse or comment from personal experience.

PPC Campaign Management Tools

The above list at first glance appears more North America focused to me and hence may be unfamiliar to SEM practitioners locally. But it does provide vital information on the capabilities that leading automated solutions can provide.

Remember the PPC landscape today in Australia is not just Adwords and Yahoo, but increasingly also Facebook which according to an AdAge report did 60% of 2010 revenue in self-serve ads, as well as LinkedIn. In a previous post I noted IAB figures showing online advertising in Australia is growing steadily YoY and Search is already 50% of that spend. Read on and make sure your team or Agency is using the best tool on the market.

Google Instant Previews Now Live for Search Ads

Google has launched the Instant Preview feature for its paid search Adwords program worldwide. Instant Previews provides a graphic overview of a search result and highlights the most relevant sections. An icon appears besides the ads allowing users to preview the landing page without having to click-through. The feature has previously been around for a few months for organic search results only. The feature is active here in Australia too (see example).

Google-Adwords-Instant-Previews

I have four early observations to make:

Paid vs Organic Distinction  The distinction between the paid and organic results on the Google results page has been completely blurred now. Look at the example above for instance. The three paid ads all use the Extended Search Headline format and now the Instant Preview icon, which could confuse users into thinking the organic results for the query ‘credit cards’ begin at the top of the page.

Ad Extensions  The Instant Preview displays only one landing page per ad. So if you have Ad Extensions Site Links you can’t offer a preview for each landing page.

Landing Page Design  The design of your paid ad landing pages is now more important especially if you are a category new entrant or not a top of mind competitor. If searchers preview your page before clicking, you must provide an enticing snapshot and pay attention to what relevant content on your page will be highlighted as per the users query. For established brands I expect that users will continue to click on their ads and not base their decision on previews. These brands must ensure that the colours and images users see on the landing page previews are synonymous with assets used in other media.

Mobile Search  Finally for the few mobile searches I did for ‘credit cards’, ‘car insurance’ and ‘savings accounts’, the instant preview wasnt available for the paid ads though organic searches are enabled. I think Instant Preview will be more useful for mobile search, where users are looking for immediate information and find it more cumbersome to go back and forth in search results due to the mobile screens limited space for navigation.

Are you a digital or paid search marketer – What do you think of the new feature?

GroupM Search study explores Search, Social relationship

A new study from GroupM Search developed with comScore sheds light on the causal relationship between Search and Social and how they influence the conversion path. This is a great follow-up to the 2009 study that explored the correlation between the two. Now that Social media is more mainstream and deeply embedded into consumer lives the 2011 study highlights opportunities for brands to explore in the consumers path to conversion.

Highlights:

  1. In 58% of all consumer journeys that end in purchase, the starting point is a search
  2. Consumers who convert are equally likely to use a combination of search and social (48%) as opposed to just  search (51%)
  3. When it comes to aiding the purchase decision, the top social option is user reviews (30%)
  4. 45% use search throughout the purchase process versus 26% only at the beginning and 18% only at the end