You could light a lot of menorahs and Christmas trees with the energy that shoppers will expend hunting for the perfect gifts this holiday season. It’s why the season accounts for as much as 40% of annual retail sales, according to the National Retail Federation. With so much at stake, now is the time for retailers to make preparations for a successful holiday sales season. Head on over to Google Think Insights to learn about three areas you should begin focusing on in September, based on recent shopper surveys and 2012 holiday sales trends.

Posted by Erin Dean, The Google Retail Team

(Cross-posted from the Google Inside Adwords Blog)

A few weeks ago, we announced that we’ll soon be enforcing the new unique product identifier requirements to continue improving data quality on Google Shopping. These new specifications help us serve better results to users while creating more opportunities for merchants. We highly recommend making the necessary changes to comply with data quality requirements, as better data quality is a key lever to improve the performance of your Product Listing Ads campaigns.

Beginning on September 16th, all previously exempt accounts in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom as well as all accounts in Australia, Brazil, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Japan, and the Netherlands will begin to be subject to these new requirements. By November, all violating offers will be rejected and will not be served through Product Listing Ads. These new feed specifications are already being enforced for all accounts in the United States and non-exempt accounts in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

In September, we’ll also begin enforcing correct use of the ‘identifier exists’ attribute. To avoid disruption to your traffic, please ensure that you’re only submitting ‘identifier exists’ with a value of FALSE in categories where unique product identifiers are required but no such identifier exists for an item (for example, custom goods). Please review the latest product feed specification to learn more.

To help merchants with this transition, we’ll be broadcasting Google Shopping Office Hours via a Hangout on Air on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 9:30 am Pacific Time. We encourage you to join us to get advice about data feeds and unique product identifiers. If you already know what you’d like to ask, feel free to post it in the comments now. You’ll be able to submit questions during the Hangout on Air as well.

 Posted by Angelika Rohrer, Program Manager, Google Shopping

(Cross-posted from the DoubleClick Search blog)
Dust off your textbooks and boot up your laptops: it’s time to go back to school!

While “Back to School” might be a dreaded time for students, it also presents unique challenges (and opportunities) for retail search marketers. More than 60% of shoppers will begin their Back to School shopping online, and most shoppers report that online research will have a notable impact on their in-store purchase decisions. In a highly competitive online space, how can you as a search marketer work faster, act smarter, and make better decisions -- all before that final school bell rings?  

Today, we want to help you beat the Back to School blues and take advantage of the second largest retail event of the year. So we’re opening our school supply box and sharing a few successes we’ve heard from search marketers who’ve done their homework. Below are just a few powerful tools from DoubleClick Search to make sure you’ll get voted “most likely to succeed” in retail this school year, and beyond.  

Keep your promotions organized with inventory-aware campaigns
Shake off that lazy summer feeling and get your new Back to School promotions in tip-top shape with inventory-aware campaigns, which let you use your existing Google Merchant Center feeds to efficiently and automatically update your search campaigns.

Our star student: Piston. Jennifer Johnstone, Performance Marketing Strategist at Piston, mentions: “Inventory-aware campaigns allow us to save time from manually managing product inventory, enable us to spend money on more efficient product level keywords and help us drive more revenue than manual campaign builds.” The team cut out the busywork by setting up inventory rules to automatically pause keywords when products go out of stock, and change landing page URLs when links in their feed change. The team also increased profits by expanding their keyword lists, auto-generating highly relevant SKU-level keywords. In a matter of weeks, Piston saw a 51% uplift in ROAS, 26% higher CTR, and a 50% higher conversion rate for their retail client -- all while saving around 38 hours over the past quarter.

Get to the top of the class (and the search page) with smart bid calculations
Become a math whiz with powerful bid management tools from the DoubleClick Search Performance Bidding Suite, which considers dozens of factors to make intelligent bidding decisions in near-real time.

Our star student: iProspect. To better manage their search campaigns at scale, iProspect adopted the Performance Bidding Suite for automated bid optimization—with some impressive results. Casandra Jones, Account Supervisor at iProspect, notes: “The one feature from DoubleClick Search that our team can’t live without are the bid management tools. It’s saving us 8 hours a week, compared to manual bidding.” Within 6 weeks of adopting Floodlight tag bidding -- a bidding strategy that leverages Floodlight to set unique goals for varying conversion types -- iProspect saw significant improvements for their retail client: 10% increase in click volume, 20% increase in daily revenue, and 20% decrease in costs.

Secure cross-channel opportunities with display remarketing from search ads
Not sure how to juggle your cross-discipline studies? With display remarketing from search ads, use paid search clicks from DoubleClick Search to show consumers display ads across major ad exchanges via DoubleClick Bid Manager, or across the Google Display Network, all with an easy and tagless workflow.
Our star student: VivaKi. In the search for the best deals, online shoppers can quickly get distracted. VivaKi implemented DoubleClick's display remarketing from search ads to make sure they didn’t lose their audience. With a turn-key setup on one integrated platform, the VivaKi team set up their remarketing lists in just a few clicks, and were ready to begin reaching customers with display ads via DoubleClick Bid Manager. As a result, VivaKi increased conversions by 32% for a leading insurance company, and reduced CPA by 66% for an automotive client.

Take notes on the important details, using labels across your entire campaign
Don’t get lost in all the “noise”. Highlight the need-to-know details using labels from DoubleClick Search to categorize, manage, and report on your most important campaigns, ads, groups, or keywords at a glance.
Our star student: The Search Agency. The Search Agency used labels from DoubleClick Search to break out of their existing campaign structure and easily track and manage attributes most important to them. Matt Grebow, Director of Paid Search at The Search Agency, notes: “Labels help us quickly identify account segments that are important to our clients, and provide the flexibility to adjust these segments along with any shift in business focus.” Beyond simply tagging different campaign attributes, we’ve seen our customers use labels in unique ways with other DoubleClick Search features, including combining labels with automated rules to manage their promotion schedules.

Ace your “report” card with better measurement from DoubleClick
Find out how your campaigns are stacking up with insights from our real-time, holistic reporting solutions. With a single view of your customer across display, rich media, mobile, video, and more, discover what’s working, hone in on new opportunities, and find your spot on the digital marketing honor roll.
Our star student: Digitas. In a dynamic search space, waiting 24 hours for reports to be updated, then mashing up and matching data from those separate reports, can feel like nails on a chalkboard. I think the biggest factor that goes into our decision-making process for a platform is its ability to handle data, “Sean McDonald, Vice President and Group Director at Digitas, remarked. “DoubleClick really allows us to view the data all in one place, and make decisions based off of what’s best for our clients, rather than what's best for our individual teams.” With reporting by device type, quickly compare how campaigns are performing on desktop computers, mobile devices, and tablets, down to the individual keywords. For cross-channel insights, use DFA Attribution tools to better analyze conversion paths.

Ready for the next lesson? Play teacher’s pet and tune in to the DoubleClick for Advertisers blog later this week to learn how DoubleClick Bid Manager can help advertisers engage with in-market consumers during the Back to School season, and get set up for success for the upcoming holidays.

Posted by Kim Doan, The DoubleClick Search Team

1. Google data, 2013:

There’s something familiar about this summer. You might say it looks... phatter than it has in a while. It feels a little fresher than it has in a few years. Look out home-skillets: the trends of the ‘90s are making a comeback.

THEN AND NOW: Promoting overalls ‘90s style ... and 2013 style (Image courtesy: Buzzfeed)

Think I’m buggin’? Whatever—scope the numbers. Since the beginning of the year, in the U.S., we’ve noticed significant increases in searches for many of the hallmark styles of this dope decade:

We’ve seen similar upticks in the Google Shopping search queries that produce Product Listing Ads. From July ‘12 to July ‘13 in the U.S.:

  • [Overalls] queries increased by more than 180%  
  • [Round Sunglasses] queries increased by more than 100% 
  • [Jelly Sandals] queries increased by more than 180% 
  • [Zubaz Pants] queries increased by more than 150% 

Online Opportunities? No Diggity 
It may seem like the ‘90s weren’t that long ago, but they were a relative Stone Age for marketers compared to today. Marketers still had to plan campaigns long in advance and build them around familiar, static channels: 30-second TV commercials, print ads, and radio spots.

Today, ‘90s-era styles are making a comeback with the help of online marketing tools that enable marketers to be much more nimble and conversational in their execution via display ads, social media, search ads, online videos and more. When a particular item or style gets hot, marketers are pivoting quickly to meet that demand. When shoppers are saying they want it that way, those fast-moving companies can be there with a relevant message and offering.

From overalls to high waisted jeans to Furbys, here are a few examples of the marketers and agencies that used the web to reach people looking to turn back the clock to the ‘90s:

  • Jumping on an uptick in interest since the beginning of the year, Minneapolis-based Comet Clothing Company, maker of Zubaz, adjusted its search advertising campaigns across screens to reach customers looking to, as the company says, "embrace the awesomeness of Zubaz". So far in 2013, paid search campaigns have helped drive 20% of the company’s total revenue. 

    As the company’s President, Dan Stock, explains, Zubaz’s signature styles have remained constant, but the company’s advertising has changed with the times: "When we first launched Zubaz, we used the marketing tools available to us to get the word out. Today, search ads, and the web more broadly, have enabled us to jump on trends quickly and adjust our advertising to connect with people that want to relive some classic 90s styles, or experience them for the first time." 
THEN AND NOW: Zubaz print campaign, c. 1991, Zubaz mobile search ads, c. 2013
  • American Apparel has seen spikes in interest for a variety of '90s-era styles, particularly high-waisted jeans and shorts, since the beginning of the year. As a result, they've launched display advertising campaigns for these items and other retro looks, like color-block clothing, jelly sandals and more. Since they began using it, Remarketing on the Google Display Network has produced double-digit returns on American Apparel's ad spend. 
THEN AND NOW: American Apparel print ad c. 1999, American Apparel GDN Display and mobile search ads, c. 2013

 THEN AND NOW: Marc Jacobs print ad, feat. photo of Kim Gordon by Juergen Teller, c.1998 (left) Google+ Hangout viewing party during Marc Jacobs’ NYC Fashion week show, c. 2013 (right)
  • Noticing an uptick in interest for 90s era styles this past spring, Piston used inventory-aware campaigns from DoubleClick Search to ensure that their search ads showcasing their client's most popular products from the ‘90s never went out of style. Piston was able to automatically create ad groups, ads, and keywords based on their existing product feeds. And the results were pretty rad, too: in just a few weeks, their retail client saw 51% higher ROAS, 26% higher CTR, and a 50% higher conversion rate. 
  • U.K.-based retailer ASOS is helping its customers relive old-school styles with new-school online strategies as well. Jumping on the recent spike in ‘90s-style interest, ASOS has used Product Listing Ads to reach customers searching for overalls, acid wash and other items. Now, more than 40% of ASOS’ paid search traffic is from PLAs. 
  • Hasbro’s relaunch of Furby last holiday season focused on digital, with YouTube playing a key role. They developed an interactive Furby gameshow on their YouTube channel and Furby ended up as one of the top 10 searched toys of the most recent holiday season. Look out for an even bigger FurbyBOOM campaign coming later this year. 
 THEN AND NOW: Hasbro newspaper ad for original Furby launch, c. 1998, YouTube video still from Furby re-launch, c. 2012

Shoppers and Retailers: keep an eye out for these styles, especially as we inch closer to the holiday season.


Posted by April Anderson, Retail Industry Director