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  • Online Retailers: The Secret to Seasonal Success in 2014
    Originally posted on the Google Analytics blog

    Plan ahead.

    Over the past few years, we’ve seen the holiday rush begin earlier and earlier. And we’ve also noticed that the shopping frenzy is extending beyond the traditional season, with transaction rates in 2013 boasting lifts even after Christmas. These trends make for a lot of opportunity for online retailers, but you need to play your cards right. The most important thing you can do to ensure seasonal success is to plan your digital strategy now.  We’ve analyzed transaction behavior from a portion of our Google Analytics accounts over the 2013 holiday season to develop a guide for seasonal success.

    Which days drive the most transactions?

    In order to develop a successful holiday retail strategy, it’s important to first understand the days that drive the most sales for your business. Once you understand this, you can craft a strategy that optimizes your media and promotion not only for these days, but for the entire holiday season.

    As digital retailers are well aware, Cyber Monday is THE digital shopping day of the year.  It generates the most transactions of any single day and, in 2013, saw a transaction rate lift of 170% over average.  In second place is Black Friday, a day that has increased in digital importance over the last three years. By 2013, the transaction rate on Black Friday was 114% higher than average.  Beyond these two stars, the table below shows you the top days in 2013 by transaction volume and the lift in transactions rates on each day.
    In general, beyond Cyber Monday and Black Friday, the Mondays and Tuesdays before Christmas in December tend to generate the highest volume of transactions.  Interestingly, the highest transaction days are not correlated to the days with the most sessions (traffic to your site), so avoid using the top session days as a proxy for the top transaction days.
    How can I drive sales on the top transaction days?

    The holiday season generates some of the highest transaction rate spikes and the lowest dips for the entire year. In order to drive digital sales successfully, it’s important that you adjust your bids for auction-based media, such as search ads, appropriately to account for higher transaction rates on key dates and throughout the season.  As you navigate the holiday season, use the lift in transaction rates over the average transaction rate as your bid multiplier for auction-based media (learn more about bid adjustments). This adjustment schedule reflects the increased value of clicks that are more likely to convert, and helps ensure that you stay ahead of competitors and get in front of the right consumers. The transaction rate lift for the top days are shown in the table above, while the chart below gives you an idea of the lift for the weeks surrounding the holiday season.
    As you can see, the top days generate some of the biggest transaction rate lifts, but there’s also plenty of upside in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving as well as right before Christmas.  A smart retailer will generate a bid schedule for the entire season, starting 4-5 weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday.

    Marketing to consumers is notoriously tricky and often trend-driven, making the holiday season a difficult and uncertain time for retailers. However, with proper pre-season preparation, digital retailers can set themselves up for seasonal success in 2014.  If you’re a Google Analytics user, you can tailor this analysis and approach to your business, using your own data and the data available in our benchmarking tool.  For more strategies for the holiday season, check out our holiday tips blog post and best practices checklist.

    About the Data

    In order to perform this analysis, we looked at billions of sessions across millions of Google Analytics accounts. We used session and transaction trends; and we looked at the percentage of sessions that included a transaction to calculate transaction rates. The data includes only accounts that have authorized Google to share website data in an anonymous way (read more). For questions, comments, or praise please contact us at gaqi@google.com

    Posted by Daniel Waisberg and Jocelyn Whittenburg from the Google Analytics team.


  • 2014 Holiday Shopper Research: Shopping Never Sleeps
    This holiday shopping season will be our most connected ever, with devices at our fingertips helping us hunt for deals in short moments—whether it’s on a laptop at work or on a smartphone right before bed. In fact, one third of all shopping searches on Google happen between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.1 That’s because shopping doesn’t stop once the mall closes. Today’s shopper spends more time than ever researching purchases online at all hours of the day; we’ve gone from midnight snacking to midnight shopping.

    To understand how digital trends will impact this year’s shopping season, we conducted our annual Holiday Shopper Intentions research with Ipsos MediaCT, surveying consumers on their shopping behavior. We found that people are shopping earlier, using online video to help with research, and turning to smartphones as personal shopping assistants.

    Black Friday is becoming a month-long event
    People are starting their research early and retailers are stretching Black Friday promotions across November, changing the focus from just one day to a month-long event. More than half of consumers surveyed said they’ll start their research before Thanksgiving, with 26% of shoppers having started before Halloween.2

    Shoppers are also spending more time consulting more sources before making a decision. In 2010, shoppers used five sources of information on average before purchasing, but that has more than doubled with shoppers consulting at least 12 sources last year.3 This means that October through November has become a crucial period for retailers to reach shoppers online, being present with offers, information, how-tos and content.
    Online shopping is the new window shopping
    Shoppers are going online for inspiration at all points of their day, not just to research specific products but to see what their friends and favorite influencers are wearing. Sites like YouTube and Pinterest have become the new window displays, and a new generation of fashion influencers like Bethany Mota are influencing shopping decisions.

    Shopping-related content on YouTube, from unboxing videos to product reviews, is becoming an important part of the holiday research process and is trending up year over year. Haul videos—or the YouTube equivalent of telling your best friend about your latest shopping purchases—spike during key shopping events and hit their peak during Black Friday weekend. Videos with "haul" in the title have have been watched more than 1.1B times on YouTube, and views are up 1.7x this year compared to last year.4
    And shoppers aren’t just using YouTube for research ahead of time, they’re also looking up videos while they’re in stores to help them make decisions. One in four shoppers say they've used YouTube to search for a video related to a product they're considering while in a store.5

    Your phone: The ultimate shopping assistant
    One of the biggest enablers for shopping throughout the day is our mobile devices. Our research found that 75% of smartphone shoppers plan to use their phones in-store this holiday season.6 It used to be that shoppers came to the store with little knowledge, and the sales associate educated them on products. Now shoppers are coming into stores teeming with information, and are turning to their phones as personal shopping assistants. One in three shoppers use their smartphones to find info instead of asking store employees.7

    We’ve found that when retailers understand mobile behavior in stores, they can meet shoppers online with helpful information. In fact, 46% of shoppers who use their phone in a store still end up making a purchase, an 11 point increase from 2011.8 Consumers are coming into stores more purposeful and informed than before, and savvy retailers are turning this into an opportunity.

    Want to know more about the 2014 holiday shopper? Check out more research and case studies at Think with Google.

    Posted by Beth Thomas, Industry Development Manager, Google



    1 Google Shopping search data, July - September 2014
    2 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
    3 Google and Inmar, 2013
    4 Google data, January 2013 - September 2014, Indexed views on YouTube
    5 Google Consumer Survey, September 2014
    6 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
    7 Google Mobile In-Stores study May 2013
    8 Google Nielsen, November 2013



  • Introducing Custom Affinity Audiences across the Google Display Network
    Over the past 2 years, we’ve launched affinity and in-market audiences, two new ways to help advertisers reach people across the Google Display Network who are most likely to be receptive to their messages. For example, if you’re marketing a new car for 2015, affinity audiences makes it possible to reach auto enthusiasts, while in-market audiences lets you find people who are actively shopping for a car.

    Introducing Custom Affinity Audiences

    In the coming weeks, we’re rolling out our newest offering in this suite -- custom affinity audiences. It gives you the flexibility to reach exactly the audience you're looking for, because you decide who to reach.

    Custom affinity audiences lets advertisers define who they want to reach across the web, on any screen. By factoring in consumers’ most recent passions and ongoing interests, your message always reaches the right people. Custom affinity audiences works across the Google Display Network, which, according to ComScore, reaches 94% of the web in the United States on a monthly basis, and 89% of global internet users.1 Like affinity audiences, custom affinity audiences work best with existing features and formats like Engagement Ads and viewable impressions, and can be measured using Brand Lift reporting.

    In the Spotlight

    Electronic Arts used custom affinity audiences to engage fans of specific NFL teams in their recent Madden GIFERATOR campaign. Google’s affinity audience solution offers a segment for football fans, but EA used custom affinity to take precision to the next level. They created 32 custom affinity audiences, one per NFL team, to reach fans of specific teams with display ads timed to the real-time action on the field.

    Alexis Cox, Senior Product Manager at EA, collaborated with Google to build this innovative campaign. “One of our goals with the GIFERATOR was to make Madden a part of the live NFL conversation. Custom affinity audiences has allowed us to broaden Madden’s reach with tailored real-time content while maintaining strong engagement,” Cox said.
    This new way to customize a campaign was also music to the ears of Kevin McCollum, producer of Motown the Musical. Getting the attention of people on vacation in New York City, with all its myriad attractions, can be a huge challenge.

    Motown the Musical used custom affinity audiences to find potential theatergoers in New York City and saw strong results. McCollum shared, “Google's custom affinity audiences allowed us to reach New York City tourists at a scale and efficiency unlike an any other technology, and it drove fantastic results, at no additional cost.”

    “Using custom affinity audiences yielded nearly double the performance of our other campaigns targeting New York City tourists this summer,” said Kyle Fox, Associate Digital Media Manager at SpotCo, agency for Motown the Musical. “Set-up was easy and we were still able to maintain the great hands-on optimization we expect from AdWords.”

    Offering Richer Insights

    We’re continually improving AdWords to make it easier for you to reach the right audience and to provide insights about the audiences you’re reaching. As you build a custom affinity audience, we will now provide immediate estimates for the people you may reach by showing breakdowns of their demographics like age and gender as well as their most relevant affinities.

    You’ll see these same kind of insights whenever you access Interests & remarketing features from the +Targeting button in AdWords. To learn more, visit the AdWords Help Center.

    Posted by Jon Krafcik, Senior Product Manager, Display Ads

    1ComScore Key Measures and Media Metrix, August 2014


  • Top holiday tips for retailers
    With October kicking off this week, the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. According to our recent research, 29% of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping before Halloween. With this in mind, we’ve put together a Holiday Shopping Checklist filled with the season’s best practices for retailers to maximize performance across both Search and Shopping campaigns. In addition to our checklist, here are the top holiday trends from last year and tips from the Google Shopping team on how to make this Q4 a good one.

    Address increased shopping demand today. Last holiday season, traffic sent to merchants from Google Shopping doubled year-on-year.1 This momentum has continued and in July we saw traffic sent to merchants surpass last year’s peak holiday traffic from Google Shopping.2 Not only has consumer interest increased, but it is also beginning earlier. Our research shows last year consumer interest in Black Friday was up 27% from 2012 and related searches started about a week earlier than the prior year. Get the most out of this high volume shopping period by establishing your marketing goals early and using our checklist to help achieve them.

    Connect with mobile shoppers. The best way to connect with your customers is to be there whenever and wherever they are looking for your products, and increasingly this is on mobile. Mobile devices drove 35% of all traffic to retail sites in the US last holiday season, and this is expected to increase to 43% by November 2014.3 Globally, Google Shopping sent over 3X more traffic to merchants on smartphones in holiday 2013 year-on-year.1 Make sure you plan for a significant proportion of your shoppers to be mobile this season.

    Provide fresh and accurate information to customers. Pricing and shipping are two of the most important factors for shoppers when making a purchase online.4 Update and resubmit product feeds regularly to ensure that customers see consistent pricing and inventory information across your Product Listing Ads and website. Improve the customer experience by using automatic item updates to update your items on Google Shopping based on the data we find on your website. If you offer free shipping, include messaging in your text ads or use the new Merchant Center shipping configuration tool to reflect this in your Product Listing Ads.
    New shipping configuration tool in Merchant Center
    Differentiate from the competition. With strong competition during the holidays, promotions are a key driver in determining consumer purchasing decisions. This was evident last year, as 92% of all shoppers took advantage of some type of promotion.5 Consider how you can differentiate your messaging by highlighting a strong promotional offer or unique value proposition. Make your Product Listing Ads stand out by using merchant promotions and provide an additional stamp of credibility for your business by becoming a Google Trusted Store. Provide additional value for shoppers by displaying product ratings on your PLAs. According to Diana Ruka, Senior Director of eCommerce at COACH, product ratings have provided “added value beyond price points or descriptions - they convey a message without need for words- they provide distinction.
    Example of merchant promotions, product ratings and the Google Trusted Stores badge displayed on Product Listing Ads
    For more holiday tips and best practices, check out our Holiday Shopping Checklist or join us for our Learn With Google Hangout on Air on October 30 at 10:00am PST for more holiday optimization tips.

    Posted by Shelby Coyne, Product Marketing Manager, Google Shopping

    1Google Internal Data Q4 ‘12 to Q4 ‘13.
    2 Google Internal Data Q4 ‘13 to Q2 ‘14.
    3 IBM Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report, June 2014.
    (Note: IBM’s definition of ‘mobile devices’ includes smartphones and tablets.)
    4 Shop.org, Holiday Planning Guide, February 2014.
    5 Baynote Holiday Shopper Survey, January 2014.


  • Dynamic remarketing now available to advertisers across all verticals
    Over the next few weeks we are rolling out dynamic remarketing to all verticals including hotels, flights, real estate, classifieds, jobs, auto, finance and education. Since we launched dynamic remarketing for retailers, many advertisers like Bebe Stores, Netshoes, and Build Direct have been driving better results and more profits from their remarketing campaigns.
    Highlighting what matters most to your customers

    Dynamic remarketing shows site visitors tailored ads that feature the products they viewed on your website, and related products they might be interested in. Let’s say you sell cars and offer hundreds of makes and models in multiple cities. With dynamic remarketing, you can build one ad that will dynamically show tailored messaging to your site visitors, like the cars they engaged with on your site, and similar cars in that city and price range. Beta clients across multiple verticals reported a 2x increase in conversion rates and 60% reduction in CPA, on average, when they added dynamic ads to their remarketing campaigns.*

    Display ads built for mobile, optimized for conversion value 

    • When advertisers add mobile targeting to their remarketing campaigns, we’ve seen conversion volume increase by 15% on average at the same price. That's why all our dynamic remarketing templates are mobile-optimized to deliver ads seamlessly across screens. Learn more
    • Dynamic remarketing with automated bidding can boost performance by calculating optimal bids for each impression in real-time. This means if you sell an $800 camera and a $20 flashlight, AdWords will automatically prioritize winning more of the $800 conversions than the $20 conversions. This helps to maximize the total value of your conversions, not just the number of conversions.  Learn more

    Customers driving success with dynamic remarketing  

    In travel, Hotel Urbano built a single dynamic ad that showed each prospective traveler the package, hotel or cruise most relevant to them. Dynamic ads improved their return on ad spend by 38%, and drove 415% more revenue compared to standard remarketing. Mariana Filippo, senior marketing analyst at Hotel Urbano, says it made business more efficient “since we don’t have to change creatives every day across over 4,000 packages across 183 different countries. It keeps up with our frequency so we can deliver the right ad with the right user.

    In flights, Jet Airways customized ads based on where and when people were looking to fly, so someone browsing flights from New York to London could see a special offer on business class tickets on the exact day they’re looking to fly. They doubled conversions at a 65% lower CPA by adding dynamic ads to their remarketing strategy.


    In local deals, India's largest online B2B marketplace IndiaMART used dynamic remarketing to recommend new suppliers to existing customers, increasing lead volume by 400% at a 60% lower CPA. Saugata Halder, product marketing manager at IndiaMART offers this advice: "For marketplaces like us, it’s imperative to showcase the wide range of products available to our buyers. Dynamic remarketing allowed us to reach a larger segment of our customers with personalized ads and to maximize the impact of our marketing efforts.


    Join us for a Hangout on Air

    Learn how you can get started with Dynamic Remarketing. Join us for a live Hangout on Air with Google product managers and experts on Thursday, October 9th at 9:00am PT/ RSVP here.

    For more information visit the AdWords Help Center. If you’re a Google Analytics user, you can visit the Google Analytics Help Center to learn how to use your existing tags to get started with dynamic remarketing.

    Posted by Jyoti Vaidee, Product Manager Dynamic Display Ads

    *Campaign results may vary across advertisers 


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