The decorations, the family get-togethers, the ugly sweaters — these are the unmistakable signs that the holiday season is in full swing. But no December would be complete without the final mad-dash to buy gifts for loved ones on your list. And if you’re like me, you may have a gift or two (or ten) left to buy at the last minute.

No sweat — you aren’t alone. While people started searching on Google for gifts in mid-October, holiday shopping is far from finished. More than 60% of people are still shopping for gift ideas post-Cyber Monday (Google/Ipsos study), and as of yesterday, shoppers have 37% of their purchases to complete.

To help last-minute shopping procrastinators tick the remaining gifts off their lists, retailers have made it easy by crowning December 17 as “Free Shipping day” - or as we call it, Oh Ship! Day. We’re making it easier to find retailers that offer free shipping by allowing you to sort by items that have free shipping or are in-stock in stores nearby on Google Shopping. And retailers can also drive more last minute sales by promoting their free shipping offers across their online marketing campaigns, from search, display and video.

Here are a few more insights about shopping and shipping trends:

Free Shipping drives purchase decisions
Free shipping can be a dealbreaker for many holiday shoppers. We found that if a site didn’t offer free shipping, 47% of shoppers would find the item on a different site that did, 32% of shoppers would go to a nearby store, and only 20% would buy the product from the site anyway.

Many people search specifically for sites that offer free shipping. Searches on Google for “free shipping” are up 58% in the past month, and peaked on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, searches on Google for “free shipping” spiked 33% on Free Shipping Day. Savvy retailers who are participating in Free Shipping day can make the most out of it by promoting their shipping offers online.

Multiscreen mavens
Gadgets are always high on people’s holiday lists, and 2012 is no different. In fact, we found that 43% of people shopping for electronics are shopping for themselves (Google Consumer Surveys).

But smartphones, laptops, and tablets aren’t just at the top of the tech wish list, people are using these devices to shop across multiple screens more than ever before. 83% of both smartphone and tablet owners have used their devices for some portion of the shopping process post-Cyber Monday (Google/Ipsos study).

There’s still time left, but an important deadline is on the horizon - December 17 is also the last day you can send packages via FedEx Ground guaranteed for a arrival by Christmas. For more insights on holiday shopping trends check out our Google Consumer Surveys Holiday site.

Posted by Eva Barbier, Retail and Technology Team, Google

As we count down to the last few shopping days before Christmas, we took a look at the top searches on Google to see which toys made this year’s wish list and found a blend of nostalgia and tech. From Furby to the LeapPad, this season’s top toys span retro remakes to kid-friendly tablets, and everything in between:
  1. Stompeez
  2. Build a Bear
  3. LeapPad 2
  4. Furby
  5. Easy-Bake Oven
  6. Lego Minecraft
  7. Stuffies
  8. Crayola
  9. Doc McStuffins Toys
  10. Lego Ninjago
This season, even physical toys are integrated with digital technology, enhanced with interactive experiences and games on websites and mobile apps. But digital has not only influenced how kids interact with toys today, it has also changed the way shoppers research and purchase their gifts. More than 68% of all toy sales are now influenced by the web (Google/Compete Toy study). And multiscreen shopping is in full force - 55% of toy shoppers have used a laptop to compare prices, 15% used a mobile phone, and 10% used a tablet (Google Consumer Survey).

As a result, toy shoppers are much more educated before making a purchase - comparing products, retailers, and prices before they step foot into a store or complete a purchase online. In fact, 39% of online toy shoppers research for a window longer than 3 weeks (Google/Compete Toy study). Savvy toy manufacturers and retailers recognize this shift in toy research and have developed a consistent experience for consumers whether it’s browsing through a store aisle or searching for gifts on their tablet at home. Regardless of where shoppers encounter your brand, they should have an opportunity to interact, engage and learn more.

For more research on toy shopping this holiday season, visit the Google Consumer Surveys Holiday Insights website. And for those who still have gifts to cross off your list - happy toy hunting!

Posted by Jen Glare, The Google Retail Team

The Google+ platform provides a fresh canvas for building and strengthening your digital brand, tying into all the marketing you already do with Google. From launching a new product using Google+ pages to engaging with your community of enthusiasts over Hangouts, join our Learn with Google webinar this Thursday for a look at ways your company can build its brand using social. Sign up on our webinar page to attend: Building a Digital Brand with Google+ (Thurs, Dec 6, 10am PT / 1pm ET).

After the Hangout, we’ll host a live Q&A with members of the Google+ team to answer questions about building a brand with Google+. RSVP on the Google+ Event page and add your questions as comments on that page.

With more than 100 monthly million active Google+ users, the time is right to focus on building your digital brand presence via the platform. Google+ has seen a wealth of brands engaging with users in creative, interactive ways. In fact, brands created more than 1 million Google+ pages in just a few months. For instance:
  • H&M: The retail clothing company, with more than 2 million Google+ followers, uses tailored content, images and video to bring its fashions and lifestyle to life on the platform. They’ve also utilized Ripples to identify their trendsetters and saw a 22% clickthrough rate boost after implementing social extensions in AdWords.
  • Cadbury: The chocolate maker has reached a following of nearly 3 million users with a combination of creative posts, Hangouts on Air and even the launch of their Dairy Milk Bubbly bar. They’ve also installed the Google+ badge on the company’s web homepage, making it easy as chocolate to follow the brand.
Like the ideas here? Log on Thursday to learn more about how to create, capture and sustain demand for your brand using Google+. And if you’re going to miss this while you’re at SMX Social in Las Vegas next week, check back at the webinars page later for a recording of the webinar.

Posted by Becky Bowman, Google+ Marketing Team

Well, the results are in on some of the biggest consumer electronics shopping days of the year! According to CEA’s Black Friday survey, a whopping 47% of shoppers purchased consumer electronics over the course of the Thanksgiving / Black Friday holiday. And the top consumer electronic purchases were: Smartphones (26%), Headphones (25%), Tablets (22%), Portable media players (22%) and Video game consoles (20%).

Prior to Thanksgiving, we also sought out what the top tech purchases this holiday season would be, using our own Google Consumer Surveys tool. When asked which tech products they planned to purchase for the holidays, here’s what holiday tech shoppers had to say:

Given that the average consumer has 49% of their holiday shopping left to complete, these products are still up for grabs! On average, tech shoppers are planning to spend $412 towards tech purchases over this holiday season, and over half (52%) plan to purchase 2 or more tech products. For more consumer holiday 2012 insights, be sure to visit our Google Consumer Surveys Holiday Center.


The increasing use of eCommerce
Online has already captured a significant portion of attention from holiday shoppers, with Black Friday online retail sales topping over $1 billion for the first time in history, and 48% of consumers having shopped online on Black Friday. Black Friday 2012 saw a 21% increase in online shopping year-over-year, and Cyber Monday 2012 itself saw a 30% increase in online sales from Cyber Monday 2011.

Digital offers a great medium to influence different segments of holiday shoppers at various stages in their purchase process: from those who use digital to evaluate products prior to purchasing in-store; to those who seek the convenience of home to shop; from the in-store mobile shopper to the last minute shopper; or just anyone, anywhere, who at any time of day reaches out for the device closest to their fingertips to browse the web for their holiday shopping!

For fun: How do consumers feel about doing holiday shopping online? Get a glimpse by viewing their one-word responses here!

The growing importance of mobile
IBM found that mobile made up 24% of site traffic and 16% of sales on Black Friday. And with tablets and smartphones being hot gift items this season, we can only expect this mobile shopping behavior to increase with time!

For fun: Is your site mobile-friendly for holiday shoppers? See what your customers see by testing the mobile readiness of your site.

And the push through December
In our tech shoppers survey, we found close to half (49%) planned to purchase tech products primarily in December, prior to Christmas. And, historically, comScore has found that biggest online retail shopping weeks occur in the first three weeks of December, highlighting some key upcoming periods to reach holiday shoppers as they choose amongst items to purchase for themselves and their loved ones.

And the shopping doesn’t stop even once Christmas is over: NRF found that 81% of consumers plan to purchase gift cards this holiday season, meaning there will be post-holiday funds available for use by giftees. With regards to technology purchases, we’ve found that 17% of consumers who plan to purchase phone or tablet accessories plan to do so after Christmas.

For fun: Check out Google Trends to keep track of rising search interest on some key holiday topics in December, from Green Monday to Free Shipping Day, to gift cards and device accessories!

With all of this in mind, be sure to stay warm, and have a happy, techy holiday season!

Payal Shah, Google Technology Markets Team

(cross-posted on the AdWords Agency Blog)

New product launches trigger an enormous amount of online activity, and cause consumers to shop. And we know that search volume can predict all sorts of things, from unemployment to auto trends. Putting those together, we took a look at the smartphone industry. In our Smartphone Launch Predictor study, we uncovered factors that can maximize and predict product success.
One key takeaway is that aggregate search predicts smartphone sales, with over 90% accuracy.

Here are the key findings that show how marketers can predict, and increase, smartphone sales:
  • Early buzz is a good sign: Maximize official press and marketing efforts early. Why? Pre-launch buzz, like online news stories is a top factor in propelling long-term search interest. We found that an extra 1,000 news stories in the weeks before launch will likely lead to a 9% boost in smartphone sales (compared to the situation if there are no news stories)
  • Customers are searching earlier than you might expect: A whopping 52% of purchase-related searches occur before launch. This is a prime opportunity to reach customers when they’re interested in learning more about the product, as fewer marketers are running ads at this time
  • End of the week availability rules: Some days of the week work better than others. The strongest sales figures correlate with Thursday and Fridays on-sale dates, so schedule messaging when it will generate the most interest
  • Video is a key channel: Shoppers are taking a sneak peak at products before choosing a device: video views for smartphones increased 60% from 2010 to 2011. Video views during launch week generates great results. If a smartphone accrues 1 million video views during launch week launch, it will likely sell over 1.2M units in the 12 weeks after launch
  • Ad clicks correlate closely: The higher the number of clicks on your search ads, the higher your sales - both online and in-store. How much? If a smartphone accrues 100,000 paid clicks during the 12 weeks after launch, it will likely sell over 1.3M units over the same period
  • User research cycle: Before launch, shoppers tend to compare brands to explore the smartphone landscape. More detailed searching increases during the week of launch, when searches for smartphone reviews peak. And then, after launch, people dig into the details: searches for specific smartphone features and product issues hit their high points in the weeks after launch. Tailoring ad campaigns to this cycle is a big opportunity
  • Buying one screen on many screens: As smartphone retailers know, screens are blurring and campaigns are becoming integrated. At launch week, an extra 25,000 searches for smartphones, from smartphones, predicts an increase in sales of 17%
For more insights, download the full research on smartphone sales predictors at Think With Google.

Posted by Matt Seitz, Technology team, Sr. Analytical Lead

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today’s guest blogger is Eric Rosenzweig, CIO of Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. Eric and the Garden Fresh team told their story live via webinar recently. Listen to the webinar recording to hear them discuss why the time was right to switch and how the change benefited their business.

With 129 restaurants in 15 states, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. has grown quickly since we acquired the first two Souplantation restaurants in 1983. Since then, over 300 million guests have experienced the all-you-care-to-eat dining experience at our restaurants, jam packed with fresh, high quality ingredients.

Early in 2012, we found that the upkeep of our email system & servers was becoming unsustainable. It slowed down collaboration and execution of plans across the business. After evaluating various solutions, switching to Google Apps with the help of SADA Systems was a ‘no brainer’.

Introducing shared Google Calendars and Google Docs simplified day-to-day tasks. Before the move to Google Apps, branch auditing, a quality control process, was a particular pain point for us. Auditors would share branch videos with 18 general and district managers via email. Managers often missed key details in the ensuing email correspondence and ended up with many duplicate copies of important documents. Now, the videos are added to a shared Google spreadsheet, on which each branch has its own tab. Analysis & actions items are captured on one live, master document, erasing information duplication and ensuring that important insights are not missed. The new auditing process requires 80% less time on this team’s part to effectively manage.

Our marketing team has also seen the benefits of real-time collaboration. The process to launch new marketing endeavors, such as coupon schemes across multiple locations, has been streamlined. In the past, problems with in-store coupons were surfaced via phone or email, on or after the launch date. Now, prior to a campaign launch, each restaurant receives a Google Form containing test codes. They use the form to report whether the codes are scanning correctly. If they aren’t, they can open the response spreadsheet to see who’s fixing the issue and when it’s expected to be fixed. This allows for speedy troubleshooting that leads to a much better customer experience.

For me, the most important thing about these examples is the lack of IT involvement. The switch to the cloud has empowered Garden Fresh employees to share information & collaborate in ways that suit them, placing very little strain on IT resources. My team now has the time to focus on projects that will move the business forward as a whole, which is exactly as it should be.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is once again upon us? While it is a great weekend to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for and to catch up with friends and family, Thanksgiving weekend has also has become the official kickoff for the holiday shopping season.

Although previously just a single-day shopping extravaganza, Thanksgiving weekend has exploded into a packed 5-day shopping bonanza filled with special discounts and deals. With online sales up over by over 25% in 2011 (comScore), 2012 promises to bring an even better weekend for Retailers. So, before you head out to shop yourself this weekend, here are some must-know tips & tricks to ensure you’re set-up for success:

Thanksgiving-Day Shopping is bigger than ever before:
Thanksgiving Day shopping trends have dramatically shifted the past couple of years. Previously, a ‘turkey-coma’ was spent resting, or napping, in anticipation of store openings at midnight on Friday morning. However, more recently, with the surging popularity of tablets and mobile phones, ‘turkey-come’ behavior has shifted from resting to ‘couch commerce.’

2011 saw a surge in online sales on Thanksgiving Day. Although spending the day with friends and family, consumers shopped online before, during, and after their big Thanksgiving meal, as online sales increased by 39% over 2010. Of those Turkey Day shoppers, 15% of consumers used mobile devices to browse in-store merchandise or to shop that evening, up 136% from 2010 (IBM & TechCrunch). This Thanksgiving Day, to take advantage of ‘couch commerce,’ be sure to create, and promote, specific Thanksgiving Day deals or to call-out your best in-store deals for the weekend. People are shopping on Thanksgiving Day and, as a Retailer, it deserves your attention.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
Whether sitting on their couch on Thanksgiving Day, or price comparison shopping in stores on Black Friday, mobile ecommerce is becoming a more integral component of Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Last holiday season 1 in 4 consumers used more than one device to shop, with shopping from Mobile devices peaking at 20% in the last two hours of Cyber Monday. (Akamai). No matter your business, Black Friday weekend lends an excellent opportunity to bring mobile users to you. With users on the go and on their mobile devices, create ads that drive customers to your store’s address or that call-out your special Black Friday promotions and sales.

Promote your deals:
Last year almost 123 Million Americans shopped online on Cyber Monday (BIGinsight/ NRF). With so many consumers shopping over the long weekend, it’s no surprise that ‘Black Friday Deals’ queries are already nearly up by 24% over 2011. Consumers have come to expect Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts, and have already begun to search for them. As a Retailer its imperative that you highlight your Black Friday & Cyber Monday promotions in your messaging. Before the weekend, make sure your ad copy incorporates your specific Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions and deals. With a crowded marketplace, this is an opportunity for you to connect with the user and differentiate from the competition.

Reconnect with your established visitors:
Over the past year, you may have gathered Remarketing lists of users who previously visited your site or purchased online. This 5-day shopping weekend is a great time to use those lists to re-engage with those consumers. Take this opportunity to show them your newly released product, specific in-store promotion, or special Cyber Monday deal. Research has shown that 70% of Holiday shoppers are not tied to a specific brand and that 61% do not have a specific brand in-mind to purchase. Use Thanksgiving weekend as an opportunity to buck that trend by leveraging your existing user base. Sometimes previous visitors just need a little nudge to remember you.

Hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and shopping-filled Thanksgiving weekend!

Posted by Stephen Woldenberg, The Google Retail Team

While retailers might still be carting out decorations and Black Friday deals have yet to hit shelves, the holiday shopping season is already in full swing. Searches for “holiday gift” on Google have already spiked 156% since the first of November, and searches for “Black Friday” are up 546%.

In the days leading up to the biggest shopping event of the year, we took a look at early trends in holiday shopping using Google Consumer Surveys and found that it’s shaping up to be the first Nonline holiday season. People are shopping earlier and shopping smarter, both online and in stores. Case in point, while 80% of shoppers plan to research their purchases online, 69% of apparel shoppers still plan to make their purchases in a store while 36% plan to purchase online.

Shopping earlier, shopping smarter
Although we’re only halfway into November, many consumers have already purchased their holiday gifts - 14% of people who plan to shop for toys have already made purchases, 11% for apparel shoppers, and 6% for electronics shoppers. Most plan on completing their shopping primarily in December, but Thanksgiving weekend shopping remains strong. We found that 28% of people who plan to shop for electronics plan to make their purchases primarily during Thanksgiving weekend, 18% for toy shoppers, and 17% for apparel shoppers.

In addition to shopping earlier, people are using smartphones to be smarter about the purchases they make. We found that 80% of shoppers use their smartphone or tablet to shop before buying online or in a store. If you’re a retailer, most people that walk through your doors will already have an idea of what they’re looking for in mind.

Smart marketers are helping customers pre-shop items online before getting to the store. Macy’s is using search ads to drive people to their Black Friday sale preview whether they’re on a laptop or mobile device. Holiday card searches jump after Thanksgiving, and new ad formats are allowing Storkie Express to raise awareness of their Hidden Dimension app, a new tool that animates their paper holiday cards. Running the mobile app extension on search ads has boosted downloads for their app across screens.

Discounts and free shipping seal the deal
Consumers still see shipping costs as a barrier, and for some it can be a deal breaker. If the a site doesn’t offer free shipping:
  • 48% will look for it on another site with free shipping
  • 32% will visit a nearby store to buy the product
  • 20% will still purchase the item from the site
Most shoppers felt that they are seeing the same amount of holiday discounts and coupons as they did last year (70%). However 22% of shoppers feel that they’re seeing fewer deals for holiday sales and promotions - which opens the opportunity for retailers to reach consumers with special offers as they’re actively hunting for deals this week. This is particularly impactful for toy retailers, as 40% of shoppers always compare prices on toys before making a decision.

Shoppers go online to beat crowds
As more people cross-shop online and in stores this season, many view online shopping as an easier way to shop. Consumers described holiday shopping online as easy, great, and convenient, while they described holiday shopping in stores as crazy, hectic, stressful, and exciting.

However, having an easy-to-use mobile website is essential to keeping shoppers on your site. More than 46% feel frustrated when mobile sites are hard to navigate. And as we’ve seen from past research, mobile shoppers will quickly move on to another site if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away.

You can find these stats and more by viewing the full report on Google Consumer Surveys. Find more of our holiday shopping research here.

Posted by Jon Sadow, on behalf of the Google Consumer Surveys team

The holiday season is a chaotic time, with shopping activity reaching a fever pitch. Holiday shoppers aren’t just looking for the best deals, they’re also looking for the retailer that provides the most hassle-free path to purchase. Read on for 8 tips you can apply now to earn the business of this year’s throng of savvy gift givers, wherever and however they are on the web.

Be where the shoppers are.
53% of consumers plan to do more holiday shopping research online this year than they did in 2011. It’s essential at this point in the season to double-check that your search and display ads stand out from the rest.

1. Make basic changes for big impact in your search ads.
Using a longer ad headline may result in higher clickthrough rates, and also creates a better experience for users by highlighting more information in the ad. We also recommend helping shoppers see the exact products you offer before they even reach your site with product ads.

2. Convert browsers to buyers with remarketing.
Now that you’ve gotten shoppers to check out your site, use remarketing to keep engaging them. Win back that potential customer who placed their favorite fruit cake in their shopping cart, but did not complete the checkout process. You can show that fruit cake -- now with free shipping! -- to that shopper as they browse other websites.

3. Reach people even when they’re not searching.
Gift givers consult myriad sources online looking for all the help they can get, from blogs to product review sites to the most niche sites you can imagine. Take advantage of every opportunity to tell them that you’ve got exactly what they’re looking for. At minimum, we recommend running a campaign on the Google Display Network, which lets you place ads on millions of sites across the Internet. Consider tools like interest categories and demographics to effectively reach people who are interested in what you have to sell -- even if they don’t already know you exist.

Be useful and engaging.
Once you’ve earned a shopper’s consideration, don’t squander it. Don’t just be informative -- bend over backwards to make it as easy as possible for someone to buy from you.

4. Help people quickly find, visit, and call your business.
Start with your search campaign. Use location extensions to dynamically attach your business address and phone number to your search ads and location targeting to show ads to customers in a specific geographic area. Then, build a mobile site or app that, at minimum, helps shoppers easily find the nearest store, a “click-to-call” phone number, and your holiday hours. Stay ahead of the pack by including which stores are carrying specific products, and how to buy online if it’s not available nearby.

5. Keep your ads fresh.
There are few things that will turn a potential holiday customer away more than clicking on a display ad on a website they trust -- only to find that your advertised product is out of stock. Consider using Keyword Contextual Targeting, which lets you tailor your display ads based on inventory levels. For example, if you're out of a specific product, you can pause a keyword and turn it on when it’s back in stock.

6. Bring your print catalog to the tablet.
The print catalog has been an invaluable shopping tool for years. Bring yours to the next level by creating an interactive, tablet version of your catalog. Shoppers can tap to view products, create a collage, share ideas with friends, or visit your site to make a purchase. And with the new lightbox ad format, you can bring your online catalog to new users, who can then browse and buy right from within the ad. The best part is that you only pay when shoppers engage with the ad.

Be the winner.
Oftentimes, one ad or even five isn’t enough to convince someone to buy from you. Strive to close the deal at multiple points in every customer’s personal journey towards a purchase, both online and offline.

7. Appeal to bargain hunters.
Turn perpetual comparison shoppers to buyers by offering discounts, gift cards and coupons on smartphones and tablets. And make it easy for them to redeem these offers at your store.

8. Make the sale with in-store shoppers.
Make it easy for people to use your mobile site or app as a companion during their shopping trip. For example, you can offer QR codes that enable shoppers to scan out-of-stock products and purchase them from your site. Shoppers also love to use your mobile site or app to make shopping lists, view expanded product details, watch product videos or compare customer ratings.

We hope you found these tips helpful. Happy holidays -- and happy optimizing!

Posted by Erica Sievert, Product Marketing Manager, Google Display Network

* Holiday Consumer Intentions 2012

(cross-posted on the Inside AdWords Blog and Mobile Ads Blog)

This holiday season, make it easy for your customers to find, visit, and call your business with AdWords location targeting and location extensions. Location targeting shows your ads to customers in specific geographic areas you want to reach, while location extensions dynamically attach your business address and phone number to your ads. Today, we are announcing a few improvements to these two features and making them available in more countries to help your business “get local” for the holidays.

What’s new:

1. Introducing airport targeting: A new way to reach travelers on the go
Whether people are checking a flight status or passing time before take-off, mobile and tablet devices have become indispensable for airport-goers. With the launch of airport targeting, businesses are now able to connect with potential customers on mobile, tablet or laptop devices in more than 350 airports around the world via AdWords.

With airport targeting, you can offer relevant, last-minute travel and entertainment opportunities, promote your mobile application to airport travelers, amplify interest in your in-airport campaigns, build your brands with mobile display ads, and much more. Plus, you can easily review the performance of these campaigns using geographic performance reports.

2. Location extensions and sitelinks show together
Location extensions can now be shown alongside one-line sitelinks in text ads (on desktop and laptop computers) and will continue to show with two-line and three-line sitelinks. If you have a multi-channel business, consider using location extensions in addition to sitelinks to help you highlight specific areas of your business.

3. Larger, more useful maps
Location extensions on desktop and laptop computers will now appear with a larger, more engaging map panel that will replace the current expandable map. When the location extension address is clicked, this new map panel appears to the right of the top search results.

Early testing suggests that users will click to see locations on a map more frequently than with our previous design.

4. Better location matching for customers
Features such as postal code targeting in the U.S., have enabled us to show closer and more relevant locations to your customers from within your location extensions. At the same time, if you have a specialty or destination business such as a niche boutique or a ski resort, your location extensions can be shown to people who are located nearby, but who aren’t within your business’s postal code -- so you also can attract customers who are willing to travel longer distances to visit your business.

5. Online conversion reporting for Location Extensions
If you use AdWords conversion tracking, you probably want to know how location extensions affect your online conversion rates. Earlier this year, we included online conversion data within ad extensions reports to help you analyze the overall impact of location extensions on online conversions and measure your online conversions per location more effectively.

6. Geo-targeting and location extensions available in more countries
In addition to previously announced updates to location extensions and geo-targeting options in more countries, we’re excited to make location extensions available in Argentina, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, UAE, and Vietnam.

We have also expanded geo-targeting options in the following countries: counties in the United Kingdom, departments in France, and cities in Argentina, Russia, and United Arab Emirates.

Here’s a full list of location targets available globally.

Get local

We hope these improvements will make it easier for you to highlight your local business information for customers, both during and after this busy holiday season. If you’re new to local ads, or would just like to learn more, check out our help center for step-by-step instructions on setting up location extensions and location targeting. And, you can always contact AdWords support.

Posted by Smita Hashim, Group Product Manager

You’ve heard a lot from us about emerging nonline trends this year - and that trend continued this past Halloween season, where trick-or-treaters no longer recognized a divide between online and offline shopping.

Neither did smart businesses.

For years, costume sites made convenience and inventory the hallmarks of their success. This year, with increasing consumer demand around Halloween and more multi-good retailers getting into the game, those businesses needed to rethink ways to capture the interest of savvy shoppers.

This year we saw costumes retailers invest more than ever in mobile websites, video content, and improved product pages to engage with shoppers wherever they were searching, whether from the candy aisle or a haunted house. By ensuring they were present across all screens, these retailers were able to capitalize quickly on offline events, most predominantly those of the elections frenzy.

Practically overnight, Big Bird made the jump from Presidential debate quote to a digital supertrend, even for trick-or-treaters. Google searches for “Big Bird costumes” exploded online, with searches spiking more than 700% following the debate. Retailers like mobilized quickly on search and shopping to catch the eye of interested consumers, selling out of their Big Bird costume inventory in just three days. We saw similar spikes for “binders full of women” costume searches, which even outpaced searches for Mitt Romney masks. CafeMoms, one of YouTube's original channels, offered a how-to tutorial on how to make a "Binder Full of Women" costume from scratch, which racked up over 35,000 views.

Beyond binders, trendy trick-or-treaters got crafty with homemade costumes, with a little help from YouTube. DIY makeup tips for sugar Skulls and zombie mouths lead to some frightening original looks. And many trick-or-treaters took inspiration from YouTube for their costumes, looking beyond popular TV and film-based character options to YouTube stars for ideas. Retailers could market a whole new set of products and won an uptick in costume sales for YouTube stars like Gangam Style's Psy, The Annoying Orange, and The Guild.

Each costume search--whether Romney, Obama, Psy, or Big Bird--signified an opportunity for nimble retailers to connect with interested shoppers, wherever they were looking for costumes. Retailers who acted quickly and engaged with shoppers through tools like tailored search ads, how-to videos, and special offers won that zero moment of truth.

As we move into the holiday gift-giving season, retailers will continue to establish connections online that could only previously happen offline. And while we’re waiting to see what breakout toy trends emerge this year, you can bet costume retailers will be ready to go with the Santa suits.

Posted by April Anderson, Retail Industry Director for the Google Retail Team

Over the next few weeks, we’re offering five opportunities to learn more about Google+ for your business. We kick off with a Learn with Google Hangout on Air with bestselling author +Chris Brogan on November 5th at 10am PT / 1pm ET. Chris will cover tactics for successful social marketing and discuss his new book, “Google+ for Business: How Google's Social Network Changes Everything.” RSVP for the Hangout on the Google+ Event page.


 Learn Chris’s recipes for how to grow and engage your Google+ community to build your brand and drive your business’s visibility and conversions. Hear about Chris’s own experiences helping companies succeed in their content marketing and social projects. Chris Brogan is a New York Times bestselling author, CEO of Human Business Works, and advises companies on marketing, business strategy, communications and more. If you have a question for Chris, leave your question as a comment on the Google+ Event.  

Boost your success with Google+
Want to learn more about using Google+ for your business? Sign up for our Learn with Google webinars. Here are some great upcoming webinars to help you get the most out of social for your business:
  • Social Media Best Practices for a Successful Holiday Season (Wed, Oct 31, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
  • Social that Adds Up: Performance and Measurement (Thurs, Nov 8, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
  • Supercharge your Social Media Initiatives with Video (Wed, Nov 14, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
  • Building a Digital Brand with Google+ (Thurs, Dec 6, 10am PT / 1pm ET)
Posted by Lindsay Rumer, The Google+ Team 

'Holiday shopping' used to fit neatly between Black Friday & the week before Christmas (or even Christmas Eve, for those last-minute shoppers); a look back at 2011 spend statistics, however, indicates a blurring of that timeline. Retailers, shop owners, and emarketers: if you're waiting until the post-Halloween lull to prep for major holiday sales upticks, it's time to rethink your strategy. According to Mastercard Spending Pulse, we saw some major sales volume dates throughout November 2011—even ahead of Black Friday. How early did we see spending at brick-and-mortar locations spike, in 2011? November 5th—two weeks and counting!

What does this mean for 2012 holiday shopping habits? Well, for starters, Black Friday—which once signaled the major gift-buying kickoff—is no longer the starting point. According to Ipsos, 54% holiday shoppers started shopping before Black Friday in 2011. Thanksgiving itself is nothing to frown at (what turkey coma?). Internet Retailer states that in 2011, $479M was spent on Thanksgiving day — up 18% from 2010. Even now, Halloween costumes aren't the only thing on consumers' minds: last year, 27% started their Christmas shopping before Halloween.

So, what can we expect for this year? Well, for one thing, an even greater increase in overall spend: a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation indicates that more than half of U.S. consumers will be shopping online this holiday season. And with internet sales comprising a quarter of all 2012 sales dollars, we know consumers will be shopping everywhere—and from anything.

Here are three must-do's for the holiday marketer or retailer:

Be competitive
Consumers expect special deals on pricing and shipping (free shipping, specifically, is widely expected by online consumers). Especially with Target joining the ranks of other price-matching retailers (which was recently announced by Internet Retailer) it's imperative that any discounts or competitive offerings are highlighted on your site and in your ad copy.

Be present, on all devices
Developing an ecommerce-enabled site is tough, but it's effort well-spent: 1 in 4 people used multiple devices to shop last year (Ispos) and roughly 9% of online sales came from mobile devices (IBM). And, mobile isn't going away, especially this holiday season: many users expect that a mobile- and tablet-optimized site of their preferred retailer will be available.

Be early

Roughly a third of all consumers target Cyber Monday as their gift-buying deadline (Ipsos). Promote your offerings early, through email marketing, AdWords, etc—whatever method necessary for connecting with your consumers as early as possible.

Happy (early) holidays, retailers!

Posted by Amy Ostrowski, The Google Retail Team

Note: graphic developed by Becky Chilowicz

How many times have you started searching for a new pair of shoes on your smartphone while waiting in line, continued your research on your laptop when you got home, and then searched online to find a local store that has those shoes in stock? Today, people no longer see a line between online and offline shopping, and neither do smart retailers. This year online and offline shopping experiences are more seamless than ever before - across pricing, functionality, and promotions - making this the first Nonline holiday season.

Not only is this the first Nonline holiday season, but it’s an important one for retailers as consumers prepare to spend more money -- and spend more time making sure they get the most value for every dollar spent. Our research released today with Ipsos shows that on average, shoppers plan to spend $900 on holiday shopping this year, up slightly from an average of $854 last year. Along with this bump in spending, we’re seeing an increase in research before purchasing by shoppers who are more judicious about their purchases- 46% plan to spend more time shopping around for gifts this year.

Here are the three main trends we see driving this year’s season, and some insights from our survey about how consumers plan to shop:

Online and offline shopping is blurring
We found that 80% of shoppers will research online before making a purchase this season, and they will switch devices to suit their needs. For example, 51% of shoppers will research online and then visit the store to purchase, while 17% will visit a store first and then purchase online. Another 32% will research online, visit store to view a product, then return online to purchase. In short, the shopper’s journey looks less like a funnel and more like a flight map, and the lines between online and offline shopping experiences are blurring.

People are shopping smarter
Shoppers are starting earlier and using more devices to inform their purchases:
  • Similar to last season, 54% of consumers will start holiday shopping before Black Friday.
  • By the end of Black Friday weekend, 77% of consumers will have started their holiday shopping.
To capture this interest, many retailers are actively promoting holiday deals well before Black Friday.

Mobile devices are now the concierge in every shopper’s pocket - comparing prices, finding a nearby store, looking for offers and coupons.
  • 85% of people shop for a gift on one device and then make their purchase on another.
  • To do so, 45% will leave an item in the virtual shopping cart, 45% will send themselves an email or link, and 32% will conduct a new search on a new device.
Savvy retailers are stimulating demand on one device and completing a sale on another.

Shopping searches spike on mobile devices on days when people are on the go - out at a Thanksgiving dinner or hunting bargains at the mall. The biggest days for holiday shopping searches on mobile devices last year were Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the day after Christmas, and the weekends in December.

Last year, 62% of shoppers used a smartphone in a store to help with shopping research (Google Ipsos Post Holiday Study, 2011) - this is enabling retailers to inform in-store purchase decisions with a mobile-optimized website or app.

Trusted connections are coming online
It used to be that shoppers and merchants formed connections offline - a salesperson could spark a conversation with a shopper in the store. Now these connections are happening both online and offline. With YouTube and social networks, people are sharing their opinion on products not just with a group of friends, but with millions of people. Retailers are advertising against terms like “reviews” and “haul videos” to promote their message. And for good reason - we found that 13% of shoppers plan to watch online videos to help with shopping research, and 48% will use tablets to read product reviews before purchasing.

Smaller retailers are also building trust with their customers through programs like Google Trusted Stores, which offers a badge for qualified merchants.

To download the full research on holiday shopper intent, visit Think With Google.

Posted by Todd Pollak, Industry Director, Retail, Google

(cross-posted on the Google Commerce blog & Inside AdWords blog)

Shoppers are savvier than ever. They use social recommendations, web searches and smartphone apps to make informed purchase decisions. So how can a retailer stand out and get a shopper’s attention?

Today, we're rolling out a new way for retailers to reach shoppers at the moment of interest. Retailers can now add promotions to their product listings on Google Shopping to make them stand out. In addition, they can distribute their promotions on other Google properties such as Google Maps for Android and the Google Offers app, and attract shoppers to their store. 

Promotions are highlighted in product listings on Google Shopping

In a few simple steps retailers can create a promotions list, map it to the right products in Google Shopping and upload to Google Merchant Center.  Our system supports user specific redemption codes and associated reporting, enabling retailers to measure the performance of each promotion.


Shoppers can see nearby promotions while searching in Google Maps for Android

This is one of the many steps we’re taking to provide traffic, technology and tools to help retailers grow their business. Over 25 well-known U.S. retailers, including, OfficeMax®, Inc., Tommy Hilfiger, Express, Chico’s, Overstock, Guitar Center, and Wayfair, are already part of this program. In the coming months, we plan to expand the program to include more retailers. If you are interested in featuring your promotions on Google properties, you can learn more here.

Posted by Nitin Mangtani, Group Product Manager, Google Offers and Michaela Feller, Product Manager, Google Shopping

(cross-posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog)

Earlier this year, we launched The Mobile Playbook in the US to help brands and agencies develop winning mobile strategies. At the time, most marketers had already moved beyond the “why mobile?” question, but didn’t know where or how to get started. Now it’s become clear that, when done right, mobile works for marketers. As the industry has evolved, we’re seeing examples of marketers designing compelling mobile creatives, and how savvy advertisers are finding ways to measure the real value that mobile has on their businesses. These are two areas that have been top of mind for the thousands of marketers that we’ve talked with and we’re excited to expand the playbook to delve deeper into these topics.

In The Full Value of Mobile section, we dive into the range of mobile conversions possible today and how they provide economic value to businesses in ways that marketers may not realize. For example, Adidas worked with iProspect to evaluate how mobile clicks on their store locator links were driving in-store sales, and ultimately found that each mobile store locator click was worth $3.20.

With mobile debuting as a new category at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity this year, it’s clear that mobile has truly arrived as a creative platform. According to Terry Savage, Chairman of Cannes Lions, "We're now starting to see some marketers build incredibly engaging and immersive creative for mobile. We sought out to celebrate these great mobile creatives at Cannes Lions this year and inspire others to think about how to bring their brands to life on mobile." The Mobile Creativity section explains why mobile is unique and powerful from a creative perspective, and shares examples of how marketers from around the world have used mobile to bring their brands to life.

The Mobile Playbook was created as a one-stop resource to spotlight brands that are making mobile work for them and to reflect our latest recommendations on how marketers can approach mobile strategically. We’ve also rolled out international versions of The Mobile Playbook across different countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, France, and the UK, and will bring the playbook to Japan, Australia and Italy over the coming weeks. We welcome your input, and will keep adapting the playbook as the industry continues to evolve.

Posted by Jason Spero, Head of Global Mobile Sales & Strategy

(cross-posted on the Inside AdWords Blog)

As we’re nearing the end of 2012, we’ve all got business goals to meet. Some of you might even be prepping for your busiest season. Today, we’re announcing our next series of Learn with Google webinars, which will arm you with the tools you need to get the most out of your holiday ad dollars. We’ve got a special series on remarketing as well as a few holiday-specific strategies to help you navigate the season successfully. Over the next couple of months, 20 webinars will teach you tips and how-to’s to help make the web work for your business.

Check out the full schedule of webinars below:
  • 10/16 [Search] Drive Traffic to your Locations with your Online Campaigns
  • 10/18 [Video] TrueView Video Advertising Strategies for the Holidays
  • 10/23 [Mobile] Understanding your App Users with Google Analytics
  • 10/24 [Research] Real-Time Insights with Google Consumer Surveys
  • 10/25 [Display] Remarketing Series: Getting Started with Remarketing
  • 10/30 [YouTube] TrueView Video Advertising for Agencies
  • 10/31 [Social] Social Media Best Practices for a Successful Holiday Season
  • 11/01 [Video] Optimizing TrueView Video Ad Campaigns
  • 11/02 [Analytics] Attribution Modeling for Digital Success
  • 11/06 [Video] YouTube Analytics for Advertisers
  • 11/07 [Video] Remarketing Series: YouTube and Video Remarketing
  • 11/08 [Social] Social that Adds Up: Performance and Measurement
  • 11/13 [Analytics] Getting Started with Google Tag Manager
  • 11/14 [Social] Supercharge your Social Media Initiatives with Video
  • 11/15 [Display] Remarketing Series: Getting Started with the New Remarketing Tag
  • 11/27 [Display] Remarketing Series: Getting Started with Similar Audiences
  • 11/29 [Mobile] New Tablet Research: How to Win on the Third Screen
  • 12/05 [Mobile] Capturing the Full Value of Mobile with Click-to-Call and Call Metrics
  • 12/06 [Social] Building a Digital Brand with Google+
  • 12/12 [Analytics] Remarketing Series: Remarketing with Google Analytics
All webinars are at 1 ET/ 10 PT.

Visit our webinar page to register for any of the sessions and to access past webinars on-demand. You can also stay up-to-date on the schedule by adding our Learn with Google Webinar calendar to your own Google calendar to automatically see upcoming webinars.

Learn with Google is a program to help businesses succeed through winning moments that matter, enabling better decisions and constantly innovating. We hope that you’ll use these best practices and how-to’s to maximize the impact of digital and grow your business. We’re looking forward to seeing you at an upcoming session!

Posted by Erin Molnar, Marketing Coordinator

Google and Compete recently completed the Portable PC Shopper Study to better understand the purchase decision journey for tablet, laptop and ultrabook shoppers. Here are a few highlights from our research:

Tablet, Laptop and Ultrabook shoppers are triggered to shop for different reasons.
The top 4 reasons why consumers purchased a device were:
  • They wanted a smaller/lighter device (tablets & ultrabooks indexed higher here)
  • They needed to replace a lost/broken device (laptops indexed higher)
  • They wanted to upgrade their device
  • They purchased based on impulse - they just had to have it
Overall, these triggers were pretty even when looking at data aggregated across portable PCs. Ultrabooks & tablets indexed higher against smaller/lighter device and impulse. Laptops indexed higher against replacing a lost or broken device.

When they start shopping, Portable PC shoppers are often undecided on a brand or retailer.

Portable PC Shoppers use digital sources to inform decisions throughout the research process and search is a key resource.

With so many shoppers relying on digital throughout the purchase process, it’s no surprise that visits to websites that sell tablets, laptops and ultrabooks have grown 10% and online conversions have grown 36% year over year!

Portable PC shoppers are also intense online researchers using many different resources, comparing several brands and searching a lot.

Searchers are often undecided with a third starting their search on a category term.
We evaluated how portable pc shoppers searched online and found the following:
  • 63% of all search paths included a category term (ie tablet, best laptop)
  • 38% of all shoppers and 34% of online purchasers started their search with a category term (ie tablet, best laptop)
  • While a third of converters started with a category term, 42% of them ended with a manufacturer term (ie Dell laptop) or a retailer term (ie Best buy tablet)
  • We also found that 17% of shoppers exclusively search on category terms. In other words, if a retailer or manufacturer does not appear in either paid or organic results on these term, they miss reaching 17% of researchers
Video viewership has tripled year over year.

The number of shoppers watching online video about Portable PCs tripled YOY. Of those shoppers who watched online video about portable PCs, 44% spend 30+ minutes viewing these during the research process.

Video viewers also take action. As a result of watching videos about Portable PCs:
  • 35% visited a store online
  • 29% visited a physical store
  • 23% searched a store’s availability for that specific product
Online video ads especially drive action: 78% of shoppers who saw an online video ad looked up the Portable PC advertiser for more information

Mobile researchers have grown double digits year over year.
The number of tablet, laptop & ultrabook shoppers researching on mobile devices has grown double digits YOY and a third of mobile researchers have used their phone to shop for portable PCs while in a store.

Here is what they are doing on their phones:
  • 36% compare prices and features, read reviews and general product information
  • 27% looked up a store they were interested in purchasing from
  • 34% used mobile to research in a store. Of those, 40% viewed a product description and 33% looked for discounts
  • 70% of mobile shoppers used a search engine to shop for a portable PC
Most purchases occur in-store
While laptop, tablet and ultrabook shoppers research online, most purchases still occur in-store. Well over half of laptop & tablet sales occur in store, and approximately half of those in-store sales are influenced by online research. (Traqline)

Re-engage customer post-purchase to reduce returns & build loyalty
91% of consumers were satisfied with their purchase and most of them would purchase the same brand again. However, 11% of purchasers reported returning their portable PC. When we ask purchasers why they returned their portable pcs, a large portion of returns had nothing to do with a broken device: 40% said it didn’t meet their expectations or they were just dissatisfied with the product. Here are a couple theories why these customers returned their device:
  • The brand messaging set expectations that were not met after consumers purchased the product.
  • There is a need for more customer education. Technology can be complex and educating customers post-purchase will help increase usage and make them feel like they are getting the most out of their purchase.
Key Recommendations:

1) Portable PC shoppers are often undecided on a brand and they use digital resources to inform decisions. Make digital core to your marketing strategy because consumers are using digital sources to make brand choices

2) Search is a key resource for shoppers and a third of searchers start their search with a category term (ie tablet, best laptop). Influence undecided shoppers with ads in top positions on category terms, ensuring a place in the consumers’ consideration set.

3) The number of shoppers watching online videos about Portable PCs has tripled YOY and 78% of consumers who see a portable PC video ad look up the advertiser for more information. Enhance your online video advertising strategy to reach these consumers.

4) The number of Portable PC shoppers researching on mobile devices has grown double digits YOY. Optimize websites for mobile and reach shoppers with ads on their #1 mobile shopping resource - search.

5) Although most shoppers research online, most purchases occur in-store.
Measure online influenced in-store sales when evaluating online ROI.

6) 40% of shoppers who returned a product said it was because they were dissatisfied with the product or it didn’t meet their expectations. Returns are costly to both OEMs and retailers and bad experiences will influence future purchases. Since a large portion of returns had nothing to do with a broken device, it’s important to deliver on your brand promise and educate customers so they get the most out of their new tablet, laptop or ultrabook. Apple does a great job with this by hosting classes and giving customers easy access to Apple experts. We’ve also seen some brands & retailers educate customers through online video tutorials and product reviews.

Posted by Eva Barbier, The Google Technology Team

Source: Google/Compete Portable PC Study Sept 2012

(cross-posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog)

Earlier this week we shared how today's consumers expect more -- much more -- from mobile sites. They told us so in our recent research survey, What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today.

Today we'll share more results, with some great examples of businesses giving mobile users what they want. Whether you're a Fortune 500 company or the pizza shop down on the corner, creating a mobile-friendly site is a critical step: 67% of mobile users say that they’re more likely to buy a product or service from a mobile-friendly site, and 74% say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future.

How are smart companies making mobile sites work for them?

Less is more: ProFlowers 
For their new mobile site, the flower retailer ProFlowers simplified things by highlighting the most popular bouquets to reduce scrolling, by trimming text, and by cutting checkout steps. How well has it worked? “Since becoming mobile-friendly, we’ve seen our mobile conversion rate jump by 20–30%," says Leif Heikkila, the company's senior director of online marketing. Download the case study.

Bigger is better:
FragranceNet sells perfumes and colognes, yes, but also face creams, shampoos, eyeliner and more. For Michael Nadboy, the company's VP of online marketing and strategic development, the trick to mobile success was to show bigger product images and buttons, larger font sizes, and fewer images overall. Mobile users loved it: FragranceNet boosted mobile sales by 48% in just four months. Download the case study.

Speed sells: TicketNetwork
Rock concerts, Broadway shows, NASCAR races: TicketNetwork’s mobile site helps on-the-go fans find tickets for them all. The company redesigned its mobile site with speed in mind, stripping away all non-essential content and graphics. They also trimmed steps from the checkout process to help mobile users buy fast. Four months after introducing the new mobile site, web traffic from mobile devices was up 120% and overall sales from mobile had grown by 184%. Download the case study.

You can see the keys to mobile site success: big buttons and text, less content, fewer steps to checkout, and a focus on speed.

What kind of mobile content is most important? The users we surveyed listed "Get directions”, “Find operating hours" and “Click to call the business” as some of their most-wanted mobile tasks. They also showed clear differences in mobile usage by business category. For instance:

Mobile Banking and Finance customers are most interested in checking account balances, transferring money and paying bills.

Mobile Travel customers are most interested in checking flight status and confirming reservations.

Mobile Retail customers like to contact a store and find product information.

Mobile Automotive customers are most interested in contacting the dealership and making service appointments.

The bottom line: mobile users are ready to make choices on the go. Help them get there fast and you'll help your business grow.

We reviewed these findings yesterday during our webinar: Mobilize your Site and Maximize your Advertising. If you missed it, please keep an eye out for the recorded webinar, which we'll post soon.

In the meantime, check out for more tips on how to build a mobile-friendly website.

Posted by: Masha Fisch, Google Mobile Ads Marketing

It’s no secret that the way consumers shop today has fundamentally changed. Purchase decisions are highly researched and much more calculated than they were ten years ago. According to a 2011 Google/Shopper Science study, the number of sources used by any shopper for any average shopping occasion is now up to 10.4. This is nearly double the amount used as recently as 2010!

So what’s the impact to furniture retailers? According to Forrester research, 6% of furniture sales will be e-commerce by 2016, and 60% of all furniture sales will be online-influenced. To better understand the role that online plays in furniture shopping, we investigated into how digital and mobile influences the furniture purchase path. Check out this infographic to see some of our key findings:

Stay tuned for more great insights into the furniture category, including data around the consumer's online path to purchase, later this year.

Posted by Jacalyn Stolt, Google Retail Team

(cross posted on the Google Enterprise Blog)

Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Ronen Lapidot, Senior Vice President of Information Technology at Perry Ellis International, a designer, distributor and licensor of apparel and accessories for men and women. Perry Ellis International joins other retail organizations in going Google. See what they have to say.

Far from a typical fashion house, our apparel spans a variety of categories including men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, children’s apparel, even evening gowns for the red carpet. In total, we manage a portfolio of some of the best known brands in fashion, including Perry Ellis®, Original Penguin®, Jantzen®, Laundry by Shelli Segal®, Nike® Swim, Callaway® and more. With 2,600 associates spanning across 65 store locations and 30 offices worldwide, we rely on technology to stay connected.

The increasingly fast-paced global economy of the past several years has made it even more important to be able to work together efficiently, act quickly and share information across the company to help us all understand the state of the business and act as one global team. We were using a popular, premise based email solution, but with so many offices around the world, we knew the only way to keep our brand fresh and our business agile was to move to the cloud.

With the help of Cloud Sherpas, we moved the entire company to Google Apps. Now our global teams are able to connect through Gmail’s video chat feature to meet “face to face” about upcoming projects, designs and merchandise. With so many offices in different time zones, it’s great to be able to give our associates the option to work where they’re comfortable, even if it’s just going home to have dinner with their families before a jumping on a video chat with colleagues in China or Indonesia. This has been especially helpful for offices with eight or ten hour time differences between them and has made us feel more like one cohesive team instead of siloed offices.

Being able to work together easily across offices not only brings the team closer together, it also saves significant time and costs. We recently opened two international offices in Indonesia and Bangladesh. Usually I travel to each location for weeks at a time to interview and hire employees and oversee the regional office openings. With Google Apps, we were able to interview job candidates via video chat and work with regional managers on important policies and resources that needed to be in place for these new offices and associates. I was elated to discover that what normally takes significant travel time and costs could be done right from my desk. I sat there amazed as I watched documents fill in with information from my colleagues across the world. I think that’s when I realized we were all going to be able to do things very differently, now that we were in the cloud.

Posted by Ronen Lapidot, Senior Vice President of Information Technology, Perry Ellis International

(Cross-posted from the ZMOT Blog)

"Showing up is 80% of life."
- Woody Allen

As Woody Allen opens, showing up is a big part of life. And as we’ve seen with the Zero Moment of Truth, showing up with at the right place with the right content is a big challenge in today’s marketing landscape. To help marketers apply the principles of the Zero Moment of Truth, we’re introducing The ZMOT Handbook, a new online resource that shows exactly how to show up at the right place with the right content and win shoppers. You can download the ZMOT Handbook right now, right here.

This new book is the much-requested followup to Winning at the Zero Moment of Truth, the 2011 ebook that's been downloaded over 200,000 times. While ZMOT is being universally embraced as the new critical moment for brands, many marketers are wondering how to get started. The ZMOT Handbook provides practical tips on how to apply ZMOT principles to your marketing strategy, along with detailed insights from Todd Pollak, Google's Retail Industry Director, plus other Google and industry experts. You'll learn how to:
  • Multiply your impact at ZMOT by going multi-screen
  • "Point the way to your store" on mobile devices
  • Make sure you have the right ZMOT content for the right customers
  • Stay ahead of the tablet explosion and be a leader in "T-Commerce"
You'll also find extensive tips on advertising issues, like brand vs. non-brand keywords and managing bids instead of budgets to get clicks with the ROI you need. Here's a sample from The ZMOT Handbook:

77% of viewers use another device while they are watching TV.

If you want to make a splash at ZMOT, go multi-screen.

That was the message from a recent Google study, where we looked at all the screens consumers use over the course of a week. We found that a full 90% of all media interactions are now screen-based: they take place on a smartphone, laptop, PC, tablet or TV. Radio and print now account for only 10%.

Consumers are now fluent at toggling their attention across screens. That means marketers have the opportunity to stimulate on one device and spark a visit to ZMOT on another.

...If you’re ready to crack the nut of multi-screen campaigns, here are some ways to start:

✔ Make sure your brand messaging is consistent across TV, tablets and mobile phones. Think about the call to action in your TV ads: Does it promote discovery at ZMOT?

✔ Make sure your site loads quickly and clearly on any mobile device. 80% of customers will abandon a mobile site if they have a bad user experience, according to Google’s recent Mobile Playbook. Don’t have a mobile version of your website yet? That’s a great place to start. Creating one is one of the best steps you can take to win local users.

The ZMOT Handbook provides more than 50 sturdy pages of tips and ideas on how to do your very best at ZMOT. And like the original, The ZMOT Handbook is absolutely free.

Are you ready to start showing up at ZMOT? Download the handbook now.