(cross-posted from the Inside AdWords blog)

In a couple of days, it will be November and the holiday rush will be in full swing. With six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year, retailers must make the condensed holiday shopping period count. Here are our top tips for using Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to your advantage this holiday.

Sway undecided shoppers with timely promotions. Gift givers are often in the market for things they don’t normally buy, and according to our recent research, price is the main reason they decide to shop somewhere new. We saw this in action last year, as one in four holiday shoppers purchased from a retailer they had never shopped with before. Including promotional text like free shipping, price discounts, coupons, and purchase incentives in your PLA campaign can help close the deal with shoppers still trying to make up their minds. In fact, one in five say free shipping will be the deciding factor on purchases this year, so make sure your shipping settings in Merchant Center accurately reflect free shipping if you offer it.

Fill in the gaps in your data feed. Great product data powers the most effective PLAs. It helps you win the trust and confidence of active shoppers by letting them know you have exactly what they’re looking for. One of the most worthwhile things you can do is to take a close look at your data feeds and make sure you’re including all the key information that would draw the attention of a potential customer.

Here’s an example of filling in the gaps in your data feed:

Short Sleeve Solid Dress
NY Collection Short Sleeve Solid Green Dress
Short sleeve solid dress…
The NY Collection short sleeve knee length dress…
Google Product Category
Clothing > Sales
Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Dresses > Cocktail Dresses

NY Collection



Keep your data feeds fresh. The holidays are a time for high inventory turnover and price changes, so don’t disappoint potential customers with stale and inaccurate information. Keep your data feed content up-to-date and upload your feed as frequently as needed (up to 4 times per day) to ensure your products have accurate stock statuses, prices, and promotional information. Remember to account a few hours for data feed processing and approvals. 

Build a campaign structure you can maintain through the holiday hustle. Create product targets and bid more aggressively on products with good performance and high demand during the holiday season, such as seasonal items, best sellers, or products with high margins. You should also ensure there is only one All products target with the lowest bid of all your product targets to capture consumer interest in your low priority products.

Maximize your exposure to constantly-connected consumers. People will shop at all hours, across devices this holiday. For example, 84% of shoppers with smartphones actively browse the web while in a store, looking for comparable deals online. At minimum, aim to maximize your visibility on product search results by running both text ads and PLAs. Then focus on incremental gains: ensure your PLAs are showing on mobile devices and increase bids when a consumer is in or near your store, or even while they’re browsing nearby competitors’ offerings. Capitalize on recent improvements in mobile PLAs to increase mobile traffic, and point people to your physical stores with local availability for Product Listing Ads

Posted by Erica Sievert, Product Marketing Manager, Google Shopping

(cross-posted from the Google Inside AdWords Blog)

Everyday, people search on Google for the best products from retailers large and small. With Product Listing Ads (PLA) on Google Shopping, people can browse a wide selection of products, finding high-quality imagery and relevant product information like brand and price.

To make it easier for you to connect with these consumers and promote your products on Google, we’re introducing Shopping campaigns, a new campaign type for PLAs. Shopping campaigns streamline how you manage and bid on your products, report on your performance, and find opportunities to grow your traffic from Google.
Key benefits

1. Retail-centric way to manage your products

Shopping campaigns allow you to browse your product inventory directly in AdWords and create product groups for the items you want to bid on. For example, if you’re a fashion retailer, you’ll see what types of shoes are in your data feed and how many boots you can promote. You use the product attributes derived from your data feed such as Google product category, product type, brand, condition, item id and custom labels to organize your inventory into product groups. Custom labels are a new, structured way to tag your products in your data feed with attributes that matter to you, such as ‘margin’ to separate your high- and low-margin products. To see all the items you can bid on, the Products tab will show you a full list of your approved products and their product attributes.
2. Advanced reporting to measure product performance

Regardless of how you choose to structure your product groups, Shopping campaigns offer the unprecedented ability to view your performance data by product or product attribute. Since performance metrics are associated with the item and not the product group, you can filter and segment data by your product attributes. This includes Google product category, product type, brand, condition, item id and custom labels. For example, you’ll see which Apparel & Accessories categories drive the most clicks, without having to break out your clothing category into a separate product group.
3. Competitive data to size your opportunity

To help you optimize and scale your PLAs, Shopping campaigns provide insights into your competitive landscape. In the Product Groups tab, you can add benchmark columns to see the estimated average CTR and Max CPC for other advertisers with similar products. The competitive performance data you see is aggregated and averaged, so all performance data is anonymous. Coming soon, you’ll have impression share columns to help you understand the opportunity lost due to insufficient bids and budgets, and a bid simulator will help you estimate the amount of impressions you’ll receive as you adjust your bids.
How to get started

Shopping campaigns are currently available to a limited number of advertisers. It will be rolling out gradually in the US, with full global availability by early next year. API support will come in 2014 as well.

You can learn more about Shopping campaigns at some upcoming events. Join us at our Learn With Google webinar for Shopping campaigns on November 20, 2013, and find us at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago on November 6, 2013.

We've built Shopping campaigns with retailers in mind, and if you'd like to be an early adopter to share your feedback, you can express your interest here. We'd love to hear from you!

Posted by Sameer Samat, Vice President of Product Management, Google Shopping

(cross-posted on the DoubleClick Search Blog)

A few months ago, we announced improvements to our inventory-aware campaigns feature, which automatically creates and optimizes a retailer’s search campaigns, based on updates made to their Google Merchant Center product feed. Since then, we’ve seen some impressive results across the board, showing that inventory-managed keywords more than doubled return on ad spend for heavy users(1).

Today, we wanted to highlight one of our success stories around this feature. The following story comes from Piston -- a bicoastal digital agency in the US, who helped their retail client maintain a “stylish profile” by keeping their campaigns relevant using inventory-aware campaigns.

After working around the clock to keep up with ever-changing product descriptions, prices, and landing pages during a busy holiday season, Piston turned to inventory-aware campaigns to scale their campaign management across their retail client’s 8,000+ products.

“When we’re looking for a solution, the key questions we ask are: can this save us time, can this save us money, and does it have features that can really help us impact our bottom line? And with DoubleClick inventory-aware campaigns, the answer was always ‘Yes’.” says Jennifer Johnstone, Senior Performance Marketing Strategist at Piston. “Inventory-aware campaigns allow us to save time from manually managing product inventory, enable us to spend our dollars on more efficient product level keywords, and help us drive more revenue than manual campaign builds.”

One quarter after adopting inventory-aware campaigns, Piston saw a 51% rise in ROAS, a 26% jump in CTR, and a 50% boost in conversion rate, compared to manually-managed campaigns. Additionally, inventory-aware campaigns allowed them to expand keyword coverage on both products and SKUs by 49% -- all while saving an estimated 38 hours over one quarter since implementation.

To get the full scoop on Piston’s success with inventory-aware campaigns, download the full customer story here. Stay tuned to the DoubleClick Search blog and Google+ page for even more customer success stories.

1. Google internal data, 2013

(cross posted from the Inside AdWords Blog)

People are increasingly turning to their mobile devices as shopping assistants at home, in stores, and on the go, and constant connectivity is helping shoppers find the products they want, whenever they want. Google Shopping connects people looking for products with the best places to buy both online and in local stores, and there are big opportunities for retailers to connect with mobile shoppers using mobile Product Listing Ads (PLA), particularly as we head into the holiday retail season.

Expanded Google Shopping results on mobile devices
As part of our efforts to help retailers promote their products to people across devices, we’re updating the look of the mobile PLA unit on to help shoppers more easily browse and discover products on their mobile device. Users can now swipe to quickly see more products in the mobile PLA unit without having to leave the search results page. The unit will also feature larger product images and product titles. This update gives more retailers the opportunity to appear on the mobile PLA unit, and early tests show that it drives more traffic to retailers.

Retailer success stories with mobile PLAs
Many advertisers have already positioned themselves for success by leveraging mobile PLAs ahead of the holidays. Below are just a couple of examples.

  • understands that their customers are very mobile-savvy, so they increased their focus on optimizing their mobile PLA campaign. Within a few months, they grew their mobile PLA campaign clicks by 371%, their conversions climbed 537%, and their mobile return on ad spend (ROAS) increased by 77%. Learn more.
  • implemented mobile PLAs for their entire product line after seeing major lifts in their online advertising efforts via desktop PLA campaigns. Mobile PLAs are now a major driver of their overall mobile growth, delivering a 31% lift in overall mobile conversions. In addition, they focused heavily on converting new mobile traffic by redesigning their mobile site to increase the speed and overall usability of product pages and navigation. Learn more.

Show your Product Listing Ads to smartphone shoppers

If your PLA campaigns aren’t already opted into mobile, there’s still time to apply mobile bid adjustments to help you capture valuable real estate on mobile shopping search results with over a month left before Thanksgiving.

If you need help getting started, please join our webinar on Wednesday, October 23 at 10 am Pacific Time to hear tips and best practices for creating and optimizing a mobile PLA campaign.

Posted by Jennifer Liu, Group Product Manager, Google Shopping

(cross-posted from the Google Inside AdWords Blog)

We’re excited to share our fall series of Learn with Google webinars. These web events will demonstrate how to use digital marketing to build brand awareness and give you the tools you need to drive sales. This season we’re focusing on Search and Display, two fundamental building blocks for digital marketing. We will be introducing new tools, as well as providing tips for existing ones. Every webinar is led by Google product experts and includes time for live Q&A. Sign up to start becoming a smarter digital marketer today.

Upcoming webinars:

17 [Wallet] Maximize mobile conversions with Google Wallet Instant Buy
22 [Search] Automate your AdWords bids to achieve your Target ROAS (return on ad spend) Goal
23 [Shopping] Google Shopping - Mobile/Local
29 [Mobile] Driving More Revenue from App Installs 

7 [Display] A Creative Approach to Engage with Your Customers Online
13 [Search] Measuring Conversions Across Devices 
14 [Display] Three Strategies to Increase Customer Engagement with Your Brand 
19 [Mobile] Building Multi-Screen Websites
21 [Search] Increase Relevancy with New Ad Formats and Extensions 

3 [Search] Using Your Cross-Device Conversion Data 
11 [Search] Improving Search Ad Relevance with Creative Optimizations 

Webinars are held Tuesdays through Thursdays at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern 

Visit our webinar site to register for any of the live sessions and to access our large library of recorded content. You can also stay up-to-date on the schedule by adding our Learn with Google 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 Matt Ludwig, Marketing Coordinator, Learn with Google

Shoppers are already on the lookout for this year’s trendiest Halloween costumes, and if Google Shopping trends are any indication you’ll be seeing a lot of Minions, Walter Whites, and Foxes at your Halloween party this year.

We took a look at the top trending searches on Google Shopping, and found that Minions took the #1 spot on top trending searches, with people searching for both adult and kids costumes that sport the Despicable Me franchise character. On the heels of the Breaking Bad series finale, searches for “Breaking Bad costumes” are nearly 3x higher this year compared to last. And rounding out the top three are Fox costumes, likely spurred by Ylvis’s What Does the Fox Say video on YouTube which broke into the Billboard Hot 100 list this September and generated more than 100M views and counting.

Top trending costume searches on Google Shopping: 

Other costume trends: 
  • Searches for “Duck Dynasty costume” are 3x higher this year than last, trending highest in the state of Texas. 
  • “Gatsby dress costumes” are trending highest in New York and California. 
  • Batman continues to be a perennial favorite, with searches trending up 36% from last year. 
  • Following their latest album release, searches for “Daft Punk costume” are the highest they’ve ever been in the history of the band. 

Costume shopping across screens 
Increasingly, people are using multiple devices to shop for costumes - in fact, last year Google searches for costumes on mobile devices grew 67% compared to the year before. BuySeasons, an online retailer for costumes, has seen that their mobile website traffic increases dramatically during commute hours and on the weekend, as people browse for costume ideas while they’re on the go. However, most shoppers will use a laptop or desktop to complete their purchase. To reach shoppers across all screens, BuySeasons launched mobile Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google Shopping this year, in addition to desktop PLAs, and created mobile-optimized web pages to make navigating their website much easier for mobile shoppers.
(Screenshot of product listing ad for a Duck Dynasty costume - one of their hot selling products for this Halloween) 

Shoppers complete their look on YouTube 
Searches for “Makeup Tutorial” videos on YouTube spike every October as people look for the right makeup to complete their costume.

This year, M•A•C Cosmetics launched a series of videos on YouTube to promote the new MAC + Rick Baker collection, creating a playlist of how-to videos which feature makeup artist and special effect visionary Rick Baker and show users ways to create Monster's Bride and Day of Dead looks with the line. M•A•C will also use TrueView in-search ads to help generate awareness for their videos when people search for “halloween makeup” on YouTube.

On average, 1 in 5 Halloween shoppers last year bought from a retailer they hadn’t shopped with before, showing that the holiday can be a great opportunity to introduce your brand to new customers (Google Consumer Surveys, Q3 2013). revamped their YouTube strategy this year to build brand awareness for their site, using TrueView video ad as an effective way to generate awareness with new customers. To help shoppers find the costume that’s the right fit for them, created a series of videos on YouTube to point viewers to their fit finder tool on their site. They also created a video showcasing their couple suggestion tool which recommends costume ideas for groups, along with a series of makeup tutorial videos on YouTube to help shoppers complete their outfit.

Whether you’re a fan of Game of Thrones or Miley Cyrus, there’s something for everyone this Halloween. Happy hunting!

Posted by Stephen Arthur, Head of Industry, Retail, Google

With Google Shopping, people can easily research products, compare items, and connect with merchants online to make their purchase. We've been going global to bring a quality online shopping experience to users around the world. But sometimes the most helpful information about a product is whether you can find it at a local store nearby.

Recently, we began rolling out two new local features for Google Shopping. The first is local availability for Product Listing Ads on desktop and smartphones. When someone searches for a product on Google, she may see a Product Listing Ad for a local store. When she clicks on the ad, she’ll arrive at a local storefront where she can browse a large selection of the store’s inventory before she visits in person.

For example, someone searching for a new fragrance may see an ad letting her know it’s available at a nearby store. After clicking the ad, she’ll see product and availability information for that fragrance, along with similar items in stock at the store. She can search other available products, find store hours, and get directions. If she still needs more information, she can call the store or visit the website directly from the local storefront. Below are examples of how these features appear on mobile and desktop devices.
Both local availability for Product Listing Ads and the local storefront are based on a local product feed managed through Google Merchant Center, which allows retailers to provide users with up-to-date, item-level price and availability information for each physical store. Participating retailers pay for clicks on the Product Listing Ad to the local storefront on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. All clicks and interactions on the local storefront are free. Retailers can also see separate local click performance.

These local features help retailers leverage the scale of Google Shopping to market items sold in their physical stores. They’re currently available to a limited set of US retailers, and we look forward to making them more widely available in the coming months. Please fill out this interest form if you are a US merchant and would like to participate in the future.

Paul Bankhead, Senior Product Manager, Google Shopping