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.
Posted by Abhishek Poddar and Zhouzhou He, Product Managers
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.
To understand how digital trends will impact this year’s shopping season, we conducted our annual Holiday Shopper Intentions research with Ipsos MediaCT, surveying consumers on their shopping behavior. We found that people are shopping earlier, using online video to help with research, and turning to smartphones as personal shopping assistants.
Black Friday is becoming a month-long event
People are starting their research early and retailers are stretching Black Friday promotions across November, changing the focus from just one day to a month-long event. More than half of consumers surveyed said they’ll start their research before Thanksgiving, with 26% of shoppers having started before Halloween.2
Shoppers are also spending more time consulting more sources before making a decision. In 2010, shoppers used five sources of information on average before purchasing, but that has more than doubled with shoppers consulting at least 12 sources last year.3 This means that October through November has become a crucial period for retailers to reach shoppers online, being present with offers, information, how-tos and content.
Online shopping is the new window shopping
Shoppers are going online for inspiration at all points of their day, not just to research specific products but to see what their friends and favorite influencers are wearing. Sites like YouTube and Pinterest have become the new window displays, and a new generation of fashion influencers like Bethany Mota are influencing shopping decisions.
Shopping-related content on YouTube, from unboxing videos to product reviews, is becoming an important part of the holiday research process and is trending up year over year. Haul videos—or the YouTube equivalent of telling your best friend about your latest shopping purchases—spike during key shopping events and hit their peak during Black Friday weekend. Videos with "haul" in the title have have been watched more than 1.1B times on YouTube, and views are up 1.7x this year compared to last year.4
And shoppers aren’t just using YouTube for research ahead of time, they’re also looking up videos while they’re in stores to help them make decisions. One in four shoppers say they've used YouTube to search for a video related to a product they're considering while in a store.5
Your phone: The ultimate shopping assistant
One of the biggest enablers for shopping throughout the day is our mobile devices. Our research found that 75% of smartphone shoppers plan to use their phones in-store this holiday season.6 It used to be that shoppers came to the store with little knowledge, and the sales associate educated them on products. Now shoppers are coming into stores teeming with information, and are turning to their phones as personal shopping assistants. One in three shoppers use their smartphones to find info instead of asking store employees.7
We’ve found that when retailers understand mobile behavior in stores, they can meet shoppers online with helpful information. In fact, 46% of shoppers who use their phone in a store still end up making a purchase, an 11 point increase from 2011.8 Consumers are coming into stores more purposeful and informed than before, and savvy retailers are turning this into an opportunity.
Want to know more about the 2014 holiday shopper? Check out more research and case studies at Think with Google.
Posted by Beth Thomas, Industry Development Manager, Google
1 Google Shopping search data, July - September 2014
2 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
3 Google and Inmar, 2013
4 Google data, January 2013 - September 2014, Indexed views on YouTube
5 Google Consumer Survey, September 2014
6 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
7 Google Mobile In-Stores study May 2013
8 Google Nielsen, November 2013
Introducing Custom Affinity Audiences
In the coming weeks, we’re rolling out our newest offering in this suite -- custom affinity audiences. It gives you the flexibility to reach exactly the audience you're looking for, because you decide who to reach.
Custom affinity audiences lets advertisers define who they want to reach across the web, on any screen. By factoring in consumers’ most recent passions and ongoing interests, your message always reaches the right people. Custom affinity audiences works across the Google Display Network, which, according to ComScore, reaches 94% of the web in the United States on a monthly basis, and 89% of global internet users.1 Like affinity audiences, custom affinity audiences work best with existing features and formats like Engagement Ads and viewable impressions, and can be measured using Brand Lift reporting.
In the Spotlight
Electronic Arts used custom affinity audiences to engage fans of specific NFL teams in their recent Madden GIFERATOR campaign. Google’s affinity audience solution offers a segment for football fans, but EA used custom affinity to take precision to the next level. They created 32 custom affinity audiences, one per NFL team, to reach fans of specific teams with display ads timed to the real-time action on the field.
Alexis Cox, Senior Product Manager at EA, collaborated with Google to build this innovative campaign. “One of our goals with the GIFERATOR was to make Madden a part of the live NFL conversation. Custom affinity audiences has allowed us to broaden Madden’s reach with tailored real-time content while maintaining strong engagement,” Cox said.
This new way to customize a campaign was also music to the ears of Kevin McCollum, producer of Motown the Musical. Getting the attention of people on vacation in New York City, with all its myriad attractions, can be a huge challenge.
Motown the Musical used custom affinity audiences to find potential theatergoers in New York City and saw strong results. McCollum shared, “Google's custom affinity audiences allowed us to reach New York City tourists at a scale and efficiency unlike an any other technology, and it drove fantastic results, at no additional cost.”
“Using custom affinity audiences yielded nearly double the performance of our other campaigns targeting New York City tourists this summer,” said Kyle Fox, Associate Digital Media Manager at SpotCo, agency for Motown the Musical. “Set-up was easy and we were still able to maintain the great hands-on optimization we expect from AdWords.”
Offering Richer Insights
We’re continually improving AdWords to make it easier for you to reach the right audience and to provide insights about the audiences you’re reaching. As you build a custom affinity audience, we will now provide immediate estimates for the people you may reach by showing breakdowns of their demographics like age and gender as well as their most relevant affinities.
You’ll see these same kind of insights whenever you access Interests & remarketing features from the +Targeting button in AdWords. To learn more, visit the AdWords Help Center.
Posted by Jon Krafcik, Senior Product Manager, Display Ads
1ComScore Key Measures and Media Metrix, August 2014
Address increased shopping demand today. Last holiday season, traffic sent to merchants from Google Shopping doubled year-on-year.1 This momentum has continued and in July we saw traffic sent to merchants surpass last year’s peak holiday traffic from Google Shopping.2 Not only has consumer interest increased, but it is also beginning earlier. Our research shows last year consumer interest in Black Friday was up 27% from 2012 and related searches started about a week earlier than the prior year. Get the most out of this high volume shopping period by establishing your marketing goals early and using our checklist to help achieve them.
Connect with mobile shoppers. The best way to connect with your customers is to be there whenever and wherever they are looking for your products, and increasingly this is on mobile. Mobile devices drove 35% of all traffic to retail sites in the US last holiday season, and this is expected to increase to 43% by November 2014.3 Globally, Google Shopping sent over 3X more traffic to merchants on smartphones in holiday 2013 year-on-year.1 Make sure you plan for a significant proportion of your shoppers to be mobile this season.
Provide fresh and accurate information to customers. Pricing and shipping are two of the most important factors for shoppers when making a purchase online.4 Update and resubmit product feeds regularly to ensure that customers see consistent pricing and inventory information across your Product Listing Ads and website. Improve the customer experience by using automatic item updates to update your items on Google Shopping based on the data we find on your website. If you offer free shipping, include messaging in your text ads or use the new Merchant Center shipping configuration tool to reflect this in your Product Listing Ads.
|New shipping configuration tool in Merchant Center|
Differentiate from the competition. With strong competition during the holidays, promotions are a key driver in determining consumer purchasing decisions. This was evident last year, as 92% of all shoppers took advantage of some type of promotion.5 Consider how you can differentiate your messaging by highlighting a strong promotional offer or unique value proposition. Make your Product Listing Ads stand out by using merchant promotions and provide an additional stamp of credibility for your business by becoming a Google Trusted Store. Provide additional value for shoppers by displaying product ratings on your PLAs. According to Diana Ruka, Senior Director of eCommerce at COACH, product ratings have provided “added value beyond price points or descriptions - they convey a message without need for words- they provide distinction.”
|Example of merchant promotions, product ratings and the Google Trusted Stores badge displayed on Product Listing Ads|
Posted by Shelby Coyne, Product Marketing Manager, Google Shopping
1Google Internal Data Q4 ‘12 to Q4 ‘13.
2 Google Internal Data Q4 ‘13 to Q2 ‘14.
3 IBM Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report, June 2014.
(Note: IBM’s definition of ‘mobile devices’ includes smartphones and tablets.)
4 Shop.org, Holiday Planning Guide, February 2014.
5 Baynote Holiday Shopper Survey, January 2014.
Jeremy Hull, director of bought media at search agency iProspect, noted that his search team uncovered 22% more conversions that began with a mobile click when using Estimated Total Conversions on Adwords. “We use these insights to help our customers make more informed bidding and budget decisions -- mainly in the area of investing more in online mobile ads.”
Starting today, estimated cross-device conversions for display ads will start to roll out to all advertisers to help you measure the full value of your ads on the Google Display Network. Here’s how it works: say someone’s browsing bicycle reviews on her phone, and clicks on a Display Network ad that takes her to a bike shop’s website. Later, when she gets home, she pulls up the shop’s site on her computer to buy the red cruiser she’s been eyeing. This is an example of a cross-device conversion from a display ad that advertisers can now measure.
You’ll find estimated cross-device conversions and estimated total conversions in the Campaigns tab of AdWords:
Measuring your customers’ mobile paths to conversion
Your customers’ paths to purchase are increasingly complex. In fact, 9 in 10 consumers start an activity on one device and finish it on another.1 With the rise of mobile phones, customers may interact with your ad to learn more about a product and then call your business, download your app, or finish their purchase on a different device.
Estimated cross-device conversions now help advertisers measure more activities from mobile, leading to better return on investment. These insights are more important than ever as consumers are increasingly researching products on-the-go, and typically click on display ads early in their purchase journey.2
Customers finding success with Estimated Total Conversions
Advertisers are making important business decisions based on the insights that they’ve gained from these new measurement tools.
LendingTree has used the estimated cross-device conversion metric to measure 6% more conversions from their mobile display campaigns on AdWords. Mike Doll, head of programmatic marketing at LendingTree, says that this new metric “can provide valuable new insights into how users interact with our ads and where they ultimately convert.” The online loan marketplace is currently exploring ways to use these new insights to guide decisions on mobile budgets and bids.
The national furniture company, La-Z-Boy is working alongside their agency, RPA, to better attribute mobile clicks with the conversions they drove by using cross-device conversions data. Matt Targett, Director of Interactive and Product Marketing at La-Z-Boy, noted that "now that we know that our mobile display campaigns are driving 15% more conversions than we've previously measured, we're excited to dive deeper into our mobile ads, bids and budgets to ensure mobile clicks drive even more conversions in the future.”
Join us for a Hangout on Air
Learn more about how businesses are using insights from Estimated Total Conversions to make important marketing decisions about budget allocation and bid management. Join us for a live Hangout on Air with industry leaders on Wednesday, November 12th at 11:30am PT. RSVP here.
Posted by Levent Besik, Product Manager, Google Display Network
2 The Customer Journey to Online Purchase, Google, April 2013
If you enable automatic item updates, we will update product price and availability shown on PLAs if we notice a difference between your product data and your website’s microdata instead of disapproving your ads. These item updates will persist until you make an update to your product data. Merchants who have participated in the beta have seen a 50% reduction in price-related item disapprovals.
You can follow these steps to get started with automatic item updates:
- Implement schema.org microdata on your website. Learn more about implementing microdata.
- Enable automatic item updates by visiting the automatic item updates tab in the settings section of your Merchant Center account.
Automatic item updates work in conjunction with a good feed rather than replacing it. Accurate and frequent data feed updates are still critical to ensure great results for shoppers. If many of your products are updated several times per day, we suggest using the Content API in addition to setting up automatic item updates.
To keep your items live during this holiday, you should always make sure to comply with our Google Shopping policies while participating in Google Shopping. For more help with data and policy requirements, please visit the Merchant Center Help Center.
Posted by Hannah Schlesinger and Tom Beyer, Google Shopping Team
Today, we’re excited to announce that over the coming months we will launch several mobile display ad formats and tools across the Google Display Network, the AdMob Network and DoubleClick that will make it easier for advertisers to build successful ads that work across screens.
Display ads built for mobile
The new display ad formats that will be rolling out in the coming months are designed specifically for mobile environments:
- Big brand ads, built for mobile and resized for every screen: Mobile lightbox Engagement Ads use your existing brand assets to automatically create engaging rich media ads in HTML5 that run seamlessly across devices and screens. The ads will dynamically resize to fit any ad size, making them quick-to-create, and you only pay when users engage. We built a demo of this new format for Kate Spade's upcoming holiday campaign. These will soon be available in the AdWords Ad Gallery.
- Video ads for the AdMob network that people can choose to watch: TrueView ads have already been running across gaming apps in the AdMob network. In the coming months, they will roll out broadly across more apps in AdMob. With TrueView, your ads can reach consumers while they engage with their favorite apps. Plus, you only pay when a user chooses not to skip your ad.
- Ads that stay put even while a person scrolls down the page: The anchor ad format is a mobile web ad unit that sits at the bottom of the screen on a mobile device. As a user scrolls down the page, the ad remains “anchored” to the bottom of the screen. The user can dismiss the ad at any time.
- Magazine glossiness for your existing text ads: The magazine style text ad format (previously launched for mobile websites) has now been extended as an interstitial in-app format for the AdMob network, bringing the glossiness of print magazine ads to the ease and practicality of a text ad. Google Display Network text ads automatically become eligible to serve in this new ad space.
|Anchor Ad Format and Magazine Style Text Ad Format|
Tools to help make your existing ads mobile-ready:
These next generation mobile formats will make it easier for advertisers to build beautiful and engaging mobile ads that work across screens, but we also wanted to make it easier to do more with your existing ads designed for desktop. We've developed three new tools, that will be available in the coming months, to convert your existing ads into versions that will work across screens and devices.
- Automatic mobile sizes for your image ads: The auto-resizing tool for the Google Display Network will automatically create new sizes of image ads, including mobile-specific ad sizes.
- Interactive HTML5 backups when Flash isn’t supported: The Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tools for the Google Display Network and DoubleClick Campaign Manager will automatically create an HTML5 version of your Flash ads. When these ads are served on a device or browser that doesn’t support Flash, the system can show the interactive HTML5 ad instead of a static image backup.
- HTML5 and in-app rich media ads built in minutes: There are now 29 HTML5 and in-app formats available in DoubleClick Studio Layouts, a tool that let’s you upload your existing creative assets into a pre-built rich media ad template to quickly create rich ads that work on smartphones and tablets.
With these new tools and formats, we’re making it easier for advertisers to develop beautiful display ads that just work, regardless of screen or device, ensuring a better experience for both consumers and brands.
Posted by Jonathan Alferness, Director of Product Management for Mobile Display Ads at Google
Over the next few months, we’ll be rolling out a number of these new tools. The first of these is ad customizers, which fits this month’s theme of optimizing creatives at scale.
Real-time creatives at scale
For advertisers with thousands, or even millions of products, showing tailored messages for each product and promotion you’re offering can be a time-consuming and difficult process. Ad customizers let you show highly relevant ads to your customers, in real-time, even when you have thousands (and sometimes millions) of products, services, and promotions—all changing by the day.
For example, ad customizers allowed Extra Space Storage to deliver a relevant, dynamic ad to each of their customers, and scale their ad creation at an incredible rate. Extra Space Storage says: "By using ad customizers to dynamically insert details about price and timing on promotions into our ad text we saw a 113% increase in CTR over our control. Google gave us a solution to the growing need of delivering the right message to the right customer."
How it works
Ad customizers use a number of inputs, such as information about your business, to generate extremely relevant and timely ads. To get started, you’d simply provide business details like product, price, and timing on promotions, and which campaigns, ad groups or keywords they’re relevant for, through a spreadsheet. This information goes into the new Business data section of the Shared library in AdWords, where it can be stored and then accessed when we use it to show an ad.
Then, you create your ad with customizers which are parameters that tell us what information from your spreadsheet you want inserted into your ads. AdWords will dynamically take the product information that is most relevant to what each customer is searching for and insert it into your ad text. This saves you time, and lets you deliver a powerful, customized ad experience to each of your customers, every time.
There are a number of different ways to drive success using these highly customizable text ads. With ad customizers, you can
- Connect with customers at scale - create a single text ad with hundreds of variations so you can show the most relevant ad to each potential customer
- Show real-time calls-to-action - inform consumers when time’s running out on a promotion, in real-time
- Optimize workflow - spend less time developing ad copy and re-submitting ads because AdWords will create relevant ads for you
We’re already seeing many advertisers use ad customizers to effectively reach their audience—and their performance goals.
Ben Arabov from the agency Elite SEM, says: “When Elite SEM first learned about ad customizers, we jumped at the opportunity. We believed this feature would incentivize valuable clicks, and our hypothesis was right. Clients saw KPIs improve dramatically—sometimes as much as 2x. This has enabled us to drive incremental performance not only during promotions, but for the long term as well.”
HomeAdvisor.com, a free online tool for finding trusted home service professionals, says: “With the new ability to serve highly customized text ads that highlight our latest offerings, we’ve seen significant search performance improvement and considerable lift in CTR.”
And the agency, Merkle | IMPAQT, used ad customizers to effectively countdown the days to their seasonal promotions, and drive better performance for their customers: “We used the countdown feature to countdown the days until Thanksgiving and holiday deals began. We discovered the click and impression assisted conversions for this ad copy performed at a significantly higher rate than other copy. We also saw higher conversions associated with this copy on Thanksgiving and for about a week after as a result. We'll continue to use ad customizers for seasonal and on going promotions moving forward.”
With ad customizers, advertisers get to save time while showing fresher and more relevant ads, and customers see ads with pertinent, up-to-date information that’s closely tied to their search. This is a better user experience for your customers, and helps you drive better performance on your text ads.
This feature will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks. For more information on how to get started, visit the AdWords Help Center.
Posted by Karen Yao, Group Product Manager, AdWords
Effective mobile advertising in AdWords involves more than adjusting your bid modifier. There are a number of specific actions to take in your accounts to successfully engage mobile users.
We’ve put together a checklist, Smart Phone Tips, that covers everything you should be doing to win at mobile. The list addresses key questions you may have when it comes to mobile campaigns, such as:
- How should your mobile-preferred ads be tailored to mobile users?
- What extensions are must-haves for your mobile efforts?
- What types of targeting could you be overlooking on mobile?
- Are you capturing all mobile conversion types in your reporting?
Download Smart Phone Tips and be confident that you’re covered on the mobile PPC necessities.
Posted by Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing