Between my husband and I, we have 14 devices that connect to some type of wireline service. And with a new batch of cool gadgets clamoring for our attention during the holiday season, that number is sure to grow. Not just for us, but for the millions of other consumers lining up to buy TVs, tablets, laptops and so on.

On Black Friday this year, nearly 40% of shoppers purchased electronics and TV purchasers increased by 30%. With all those new, shiny and sleek electronics flooding the market, many consumers are looking to upgrade their current wireline services.

So what good is the piece of hardware without the service provider to deliver the content? And, more importantly to the bottom line of cable TV, high-speed internet and home phone service providers, how are consumers finding the information to make those purchase decisions?

In Google’s new custom research study with Compete, we looked at the surprising and powerful role digital and mobile play in influencing wireline service shopper behavior.

Online presence and Search are the keys to the consumer’s wireline decision process.
The two most-used resources are: provider websites and search engines, in that order. And in terms of most-useful resources, search engines are leading the way, ranking higher than customer service reps and provider websites.

Recommendation: Almost half (49%) of online conversions were directly referred by paid ads, and 50% of all search queries happen on the day of conversion for online purchasers, so maintaining a constant digital presence is vital to reach these in-market consumers.

Customers are looking for the best price, and are willing to wait for it.
We found 20% YoY growth in “deal” queries for wired services. 40% of online purchasers cross-shopped and visited two or more provider websites prior to conversion. And 66% take longer than a week to research the best deal and make a purchase.

Recommendation: Include comparison and “deal” keywords in your mix and keep creative centered around your value proposition. And utilize remarketing to capture consumers who don’t immediately convert on your site.

Mobile researchers are on the rise.
One in 5 wireline service shoppers used a smartphone or a tablet to help them shop, and search is the most popular mobile resource. Not only is the mobile audience growing, but they are potentially a more valuable audience for wireline service providers as they are less price-sensitive and more interested in specific service features than non-mobile shoppers.

Recommendation: Mobile researchers are 20% more likely to purchase via a phone call, so advertisers should use click-to-call ads to make it easy for shoppers to connect with them. And ad creative should focus on features rather than price for this more-sophisticated audience.

Don’t sleep on “generic” queries.
An average of 18% of search queries made at every stage in the purchase cycle were non-brand queries. Even on the day of conversion, almost 1 in 5 search queries is not attached to a brand or service provider.

Recommendation: Advertisers should maintain a consistent presence on non-branded and generic terms to capture all in-market shoppers.

For more information, you can download the full study here.

Posted by Kristin Sutter, The Google Technology Team

Keeping the lights on is a simple phrase, with simple meaning- make sure you leave the lights on so your customers can find you, or find your products- online. When- the week between Christmas and New Years- a week that could easily get left behind, but who would pass on a customer that has intent to research or buy during a week with plenty of time for web surfing, video viewing, social networking and walking into stores armed with their new mobile device or tablet?

Just think of the poor folks that have to work on Monday, December 26th- they will be online, researching and shopping. And if they're not working that day- they're heading out to redeem those gift cards online or in-store (or returning that hideous sweater from Aunt Suzie). Last year, Sunday, December 26th was the fifth largest eCommerce shopping day and ShopperTrak estimates it could be the 3rd largest day this year, since it falls on a Monday. If you're a numbers person, here are some of the stats behind what we see as great motivation to keep your Desktop Search, Display or Video advertising running next week (and of course your mSearch, mDisplay and mVideo campaigns)
  • 55% of consumers shopped post holiday in 2010. 5% of them will do the MAJORITY of their shopping after Christmas (read: self-gifting)
  • Monday, December 26th Retail traffic will surge by 60% since it's a public Holiday. (read: I have the day off and I'm going shopping)
  • $27.8B in total expected gift card spending this season- they'll be redeeming them the week after Christmas (and 72% of consumers spent more than the card's value in 2010)
  • Last year 13 days between December 26th and January 15th saw higher eCommerce sales than Black Friday (yes, you read that right)
  • Don't underestimate January- last year saw total retail sales growth from January on par with December's y/y growth rate

A final suggestion around the 'Leave the lights on' strategy -- shift end-of-year markdown dollars across categories to upfront paid search to avoid deeper discounts in the New Year. Geo-target your campaigns to help the stores or distribution centers with excess inventory pick it up at the end of the year. The number of paid search advertisers tends to decrease during this timeframe making the inventory sell-through that much more economical.

So enjoy your Holiday over the next few days, but don't forget to 'leave the lights on' for your customers the week between Christmas and New Years. If you don't, someone else might...!

Posted by Jay Bowden, The Google Retail Team

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the most pervasive concerns among online retailers, and with good reason. Studies show that 75% of your site visitors will likely leave without making a purchase, and 85% of the top 1,000 online retailers are doing nothing to combat this growing issue (Listrak 2011).

If you are investing in channels to drive traffic to your site this holiday season, take advantage of the opportunity to add value to your campaigns and maximize ROI by using your existing AdWords Conversion Tracking pixel to remarket to past converters.

Remarketing using Conversion Tracking (RMCT) adds an innovative and personal layer to your remarketing investments by targeting loyal customers who have already purchased from you. This creative approach to Remarketing has twice the win rate of conventional Remarketing (Google internal research), and is a great way to multiply conversions among loyal customers during the crucial post-holiday period.

By tracking conversions and collecting cookies associated with visitors who have completed a purchase, RMCT targets customers have done their research and chose you. Use RMCT to remind them why they did by separating converters from non-converters. With these two separate lists, you’re able to assign different values to them, and target them with specific copy and image ads. Reach the past converters with “loyalist” coupons, accessory and gift ideas to complement their most recent purchase, or even bulk and last minute discounts.

There are two ways to enable RMCT:

1. Easiest and most simple approach: Create a “Converters” Remarketing List based off the AWCT code (no additional pixel needed). This is a quick and easy solution for upselling or cross-selling to existing customers without having to implement additional pixels, but it is more limited in scope.

  • Select the conversion code in the section Control Panel > New Audience > Existing Tag > Select your conversion tag
  • The system will activate your conversion code into a Remarketing mode and will collect AdWords conversions and cookie IDs of people who hit your conversion page (regardless the traffic source they came from: AW, Search, Direct traffic, Referrals, etc.)

2. “You’re Halfway There” approach (a little more advanced): Deploy a basic but high ROI Remarketing ‘Shopping Cart Abandonment’ strategy (one additional pixel needed, placed on the cart page) and collect converters in one click. With this method, the existing conversion tracking tag can double-duty as a Remarketing tag and be used to exclude converters without any additional pixeling (see above). You can also choose to expand to tag Homepage & Product pages if your pixel implementation bandwidth permits. If AdWords Conversion Tracking is enabled in your account, use the same code to create a list of users that are reaching your conversion page.
  • Select your Conversion Code in the List Creation Panel > “Select from existing tags”
  • By adding the pixel to your thank you for ordering site, a list of all converters will appear in your Audience Tab--use this list to directly target only those people
  • Start taking advantage of RMCT now and challenge competitors to win more loyal customers and conversions with this innovative approach to Online marketing this holiday season
Nearly 57% of shoppers plan to do most of their holiday shopping after Cyber Monday this year (Google/OTX Holiday 2011 Study), so make sure you stay top of mind, challenge competitors, and increase conversions for the rest of the holiday season by taking a novel strategic approach to online marketing by implementing Remarketing with Conversion Tracking (RMCT).

Please visit this site for more information on Remarketing, and this site for FAQ.

Posted by Benna Wise & Andrea Cohan, The Google Technology Team

With the free shipping cutoff looming, shoppers are turning to the streets to find last-minute gifts in stores. You can make your brand stand out after the shipping cutoff by taking advantage of the consumer’s companion this holiday season -- smartphones.

Mobile queries have spiked the week before Christmas (see chart below) for the past two years. In the retail category, “Black Friday” related mobile queries were over 200% higher in 2011 than last year, and Google Mobile Ads project that 44% of this season’s searches for last-minute gifts and store-locators will be done on mobile phones.1 So ensure your mobile site experience is on par with your desktop site as 40% of users will turn to a competitor if not.

Prepare for this influx of foot-and-mobile-traffic by doing the following:

Make it easy to find your store. 95% of mobile users will be looking for location-specific information, and 61% will go into stores after finding a store’s address.3 Promote findable and easily clickable links on your site to drive users to your store. If you’re an AdWords advertiser, take advantage of Location Extensions. When a user searches on Google or within Google Maps, your location will be displayed if your ad is the most relevant answer. Find more information at the Adwords Help Center.

Display your phone number. 59% of smartphone users call a store after searching.3 Smartphone users are ready to act, and if you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, or you know your users are more likely to convert over the phone, show your phone number in an easy-to-click format with Click-to-Call ads.

Promote other mobile-specific actions. In addition to viewing maps, calling stores, and purchasing, smartphones also encourage actions such as signing up for reminders, downloading applications, and looking for deals and offers. During this year’s Black Friday weekend, Google trends showed that searches for [mobile coupons] were up 90% in volume over last year. If you’re using ads to increase awareness, consider implementing Ad Sitelinks to help customers navigate to pages that promote important actions on your site.

Let shoppers share your deals. Beyond the 70% of mobile users who compare prices before purchasing, 90% of mobile users are social mavens, too.4 Don’t ignore this behavior as your customers can be trusted brand advocates. For example, they are 50% more likely to create content that will influence their peers’ shopping decisions.5 Try sharing your deals through various social platforms, such as incorporating Google’s +1 button on your site. Read about integrating a +1 button here.

Connect your devices. Finally, focus on the shopper, not just the device. Your customers use multiple devices to inform purchases -- desktop, tablets, and smartphones. Provide a cohesive shopping experience across all devices so your customers can find you easily at any time.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Shopping!

Posted by Julie Jin, The Google Mobile Ads Team

1. Google Internal Data, “Last Minute Shopping Analysis,” 2011
2. Compuware, "What Users Want from Mobile," 2011

3. Google "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users," 2011
4. Lightspeed Research, 2010; Google "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users," 2011

5. ROI Research, 2011, “S-Net: The Impact of Social Media”


‘Tis the season for toy shopping. Fijit Friends, Leap Pads, Monster High Dolls, and of course, Lego, Barbie, and American Girl Dolls are top of the list this year.

We’ve already seen toy queries increase 38% in 2011 versus 2010. And we all know that November and December are key times for toy shoppers (see query trends here). As the online channel becomes increasingly influential, many toy retailers and manufacturers are asking how to best reach these shoppers.

We’re excited to announce that Google and Compete recently completed a custom study on the Toy industry, investigating how digital and mobile influences toy purchase decisions. Here are 4 key insights and recommendations on how marketers can reach toy shoppers this season!

Digital is core to the toy buying process: Digital resources are used more throughout the toy purchase cycle than traditional sources. 43% of shoppers use video sharing sites, 39% visit manufacturer websites, and 39% rely on paid search for information on the latest and greatest toys. And, shoppers turn to digital after seeing a tv commercial or store circular; most shoppers research online within one week of offline ad exposure.

Recommendation: Make digital a core element of your marketing mix, and align your online campaigns with your offline media plan.

Category terms are crucial for reaching toy shoppers in Q4: Many toy shoppers are undecided. In fact, almost 30% of shoppers search only on non-branded, category terms. These terms play a huge role in assisting conversions. When considering online conversions. 30% were assisted by category terms.

Recommendation: Guarantee coverage on these terms to reach those undecided shoppers this holiday season. Ensure that category terms are included in your keyword mix

Toy shoppers research and cross shop: Toy shoppers begin researching two weeks prior to purchase and those that convert search more (on average, 8.2 queries). Toy consumers also tend to shop around: 40% visit more than four sites.

Recommendation: Re-market to customers who don’t immediately convert on your site.

Retailers dominate in the research and purchase process: Consumers turn to retailers the most when shopping! 50% of consumers start with a retailer term when shopping for toys, and of those, 84% end with a retailer term.

Recommendation: Toy Manufacturers should partner with retailer to ensure they are the brand that wins, especially during the pivotal holiday season.

Be on the lookout for our complete toy study and presentation to be delivered shortly. In the meantime, Happy Toy Shopping!

Posted by Amy Lovin, The Google Retail Team

Head past the busy parking lot of the Christmas Place store in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in July and you’ll be reminded that there are people who are busy thinking about holiday decorating throughout all seasons of the year. However, Google searches indicate that for most, the official kick-off for holiday decorating is the weekend after Thanksgiving. No time is wasted before we swap our pumpkins for candy canes and clear our cornucopia arrangements to make room for garland centerpieces.

And while many of us will brave the annual trip up to the attic to retrieve boxes of our time-honored holiday decorations, there always seems to be room on the mantel for an additional snowman trinket and space on the tree for a new ornament. What are consumers looking for when it comes to updating holiday décor this year? Google searches reveal several trends for decking the halls in the 2011 holiday season:
  • Grab the glitter, the glue guns, the ribbon, and construction paper - homemade ornaments are a breakout search this holiday as consumers look to add a personal touch to holiday decor
  • And speaking of personal touch, personalized stocking searches are among top rising terms related to stockings this year
  • Since unseasonably warm weather this year makes it seem unlikely that most the US will see the real thing anytime soon, search volume is larger than ever for fake snow
  • And finally, there are many searchers (myself included) who are starting with the most basic search for holiday decorating ideas and hoping to find inspiration for completing this year’s holiday decorating theme
With the vast range of searches related to holiday decorating, retailers have ample opportunity to attract consumers to their sites and offer products and ideas for holiday trimmings that will help make this season extra special.

What holiday decorating trends are delighting you this season?

Posted by Kristin Patterson, The Google Retail Team

Approximately 19% of footwear purchases occurred online in October and online footwear purchases are up 14% year over year, the 23rd month of consecutive double digit growth! (Mastercard) The online channel is increasingly influencing footwear shopper decisions leaving many footwear brands and retailers asking, "How do I best reach these shoppers online?".

We’re excited to announce that Google and Compete recently completed a custom study on the footwear industry, investigating how digital and mobile influences footwear purchase decisions. Here are 6 key insights and recommendations on how marketers can better reach these shoppers:

Digital is core to the footwear purchase process: 37% of people who have researched footwear online solely rely on online resources when shopping for footwear. This means that they did not use other sources like TV, Magazines or even advice from family & friends while researching/shopping for shoes.

Recommendation: Ensure digital is core to your media mix and that your digital campaigns align with your offline campaigns or you'll miss reaching a large portion of footwear shoppers.

Footwear buyers cross-shop online before purchasing: Prior to purchasing online, footwear buyers visit an average of 2-4 competitive sites and 45% wait to purchase 2 weeks or more after starting their research.

Recommendation: Re-market to customers who don’t immediately convert on your site and adjust your attribution windows to capture those that are starting their research 2 weeks prior to conversion.

Shoe shoppers use search throughout the shopping process: 43% of shoe shoppers use search throughout the purchase process and 39% of online footwear sales from searchers came from clicks on search ads.

Recommendation: Implement paid search coverage throughout buying process, optimizing ad text to drive immediate sales.

Footwear shoppers search in thousands of different ways: Footwear shoppers conducted 25K+ unique query paths using category, manufacturer and retailer queries. However, we found that 18% of all query paths only contained category terms (ie shoes, boots), meaning these shoppers never searched on manufacturer or retailer terms. If footwear retailers and brands aren’t appearing in search results on category queries, they are missing nearly 1 in 5 footwear shoppers! Footwear Category terms also drive online purchases. In the study, they represented almost 20% of online purchase assists and 15% of last click purchases.

Recommendation: Invest in footwear category terms to acquire undecided customers. Manufacturers and retailers should partner and dedicate co-op funds to assist in achieving a high position in paid search results. These ads should push manufacturer brand sales at retail via ad text messaging and landing page. It's a great strategy because both manufacturer and brand will increase awareness among undecided customers while splitting the cost of the CPC!

Searchers are more likely to purchase offline than non-searchers: 43% of searchers said they ended up making a purchase in-store while only 36% of non-searchers purchased in store.

Recommendation: Measure search influenced in-store sales and incorporate into your ROI metrics

Mobile allows pureplays & manufacturer online stores to compete in-store: 24% of respondents who used their mobile device to shop for footwear, used it in the store. While shopping in-store on mobile devices, price comparison and coupon searching were the two primary uses for mobile devices.

Recommendation: Ensure your site is optimized for mobile phones and use mobile ads to influence customers across channels.

For more information on our footwear shopper study, download the full presentations here:

Posted by Eva Barbier, The Google Retail Team

(Cross-posted on the Google Commerce Blog)

With the biggest shopping weekend of the year behind us here in the U.S., we decided to take a step back, crunch the numbers and look at how people shopped during the extravaganza that spans Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Using Insights for Search and data from Google’s annual consumer intentions shopping study, conducted with our research partner OTX, we identified two stand-out trends this year. One, shoppers are searching more for deals online than ever before and they’re heavily relying on their mobile device as an on-the-go, personal shopping assistant. Here’s what we learned from the data:

It’s all about saving money and time
The search trends clearly showed consumers are more aware of and interested in special deals available over the holiday shopping weekend. Searches for [black friday deals] were up by 30% from last year, and searches for [cyber monday sales] and [cyber monday coupons] grew 15% year over year. Further, on Black Friday, half of the top 20 rising searches on Google involved retailers or deals.

Closing out the long weekend, [cyber monday deals 2011] made the top five growing search term on Cyber Monday. In addition, searches for [black midnight] jumped by over 30% over last year, indicating shoppers were planning to hit the stores when retailers opened their doors at 12am on Black Friday.

Most interesting to us was the growth in queries indicating that shoppers were using the web to plan out their trips to the store. Searches for [black friday store map] were conducted more than twice as often this year as in 2010, and searches for [black friday store hours] were up over 40% for the same time period.

Mobile matters
More and more shoppers are reaching for their phones to compare prices, look for store locations and inventory and find deals. In fact, searches for [mobile coupons] were up 90% over last year’s volume and mobile search volume for retail-related searches on Black Friday this year was up 200% over Black Friday last year.

According to our study, 55% of participants said they will use their smartphone’s location features on some or most shopping trips, while 47% will use a smartphone to compare prices and 42% will use their phone to search for the nearest store.

They might not fit in your pocket, but tablets are a rising device for getting some serious shopping done: 47% of study participants said they use their tablets to search for coupons or rebates and 44% use them to make purchases.

What’s hot this holiday season
It’s always fun to take a look at the most popular product searches just after Thanksgiving and try to predict what this year’s Tickle Me Elmo will be.

While netbooks emerged as a popular product last holiday season, this year’s data shows tablets overtaking netbooks in search popularity.

Also, the most popular product searched for on Google Product Search over the long weekend was the Leapfrog LeapPad Explorer. Other top products in their categories include:

Finally, our survey found that 43% of consumers embraced the craziness of the Black Friday weekend and as of Cyber Monday, had finished the majority of their holiday shopping. But don’t panic if you’re part of the 57% majority. If last year’s trends hold true for 2011, we’ll see a big spike in shopping traffic in mid-December, when procrastinators like myself rush to get their shopping done.