As the countdown to the busy online holiday shopping season begins, online retailers may need to freshen up their paid search and comparison shopping engine strategies. In the ever-changing search engine marketing landscape, we’ve recently seen significant changes in platforms, partnerships and ad products. Here is a short summary of what you need to know as you revamp holiday ad campaigns and allocate ad budgets.
Make the Most of the Microsoft and Yahoo Deal
If you advertise on Microsoft’s Bing or Yahoo’s Gemini platforms, you are probably aware of the amended search relationship between these two powerhouses. Before April 2015, Yahoo was contracted to serve Bing ads to all desktop search traffic. With the new deal, Yahoo is only obligated to carry Bing Ads for 51% of its desktop search traffic and has no limits on mobile search traffic. Yahoo can now serve more ads to desktop and mobile devices through its Gemini platform. This could lead to a huge shift in volume from Bing Ads to Gemini.
At this time, the volume being serviced with Gemini is low and concentrated on mobile, but Gemini is gearing up to launch a lot of new features in preparation for increasing volume. Billed by Yahoo as “the first and only unified marketplace for search and native advertising,” Gemini could be a lucrative place for promoted videos, articles, music and other media.
If you only have a Bing account, you’ll have to open a separate Gemini account. At a minimum, merchants should have their top keywords set in Gemini and prepare for the potential of a bigger shift in the future. Merchants should also monitor native ads regularly to ensure these ads are driving qualified traffic.
Gear Up Bing Shopping Ads
While Bing may see less exposure on Yahoo, 51% of the ads on Yahoo desktop search will continue to be Bing ads. As with Google, Bing is also expanding visibility and opportunities with Shopping Ads. These ads on Bing have been slower to grow, but volume with these types of ads is expected to increase. In most areas, Bing is duplicating Google’s features and capabilities.
Transition to New Comparison Shopping Engines
2015 continues to be the year of comparison shopping engine switches, mergers and buyouts. Earlier in the year, Facebook purchased TheFind and ended the service that was previously the last free comparison shopping engine. Connexity recently purchased PriceGrabber and now owns Shopzilla, Bizrate and Become.
PriceGrabber has announced they will stop servicing their platform on October 31, 2015. To keep your visibility on PriceGrabber you need to have an account with Connexity. This platform will now service PriceGrabber, Shopzilla, Bizrate and Become. Aside from the different platform, there will be new pixels and new bidding requirements. To avoid interruption, start the transition as soon as possible.
Test Facebook Ads
Although Facebook growth has slowed, it is still the #2 most visited site after Google. When Facebook first launched advertising options, it was often reported that ROI was not strong enough. In the past year, Facebook has considerably enhanced their advertising capabilities. If you haven’t tested Facebook ads recently, it may be worth another look.
Facebook has always had the capability of strong segmentation, but now there are different tactics that can be used to target more precisely, resulting in more sales.
- Custom audiences – there are now numerous ways you can customize your audience aside from location, gender and age. You can even import an email list to match to Facebook profiles.
- You can target audiences similar to your customers by interest, demographics and actions on Facebook.
- Remarket to your website visitors.
- Target your Instagram followers.
- Product ads similar to Google are also in beta.
Test Advertising on Other Social Channels
Compared to last year, there are many opportunities to monetize your social following. If you have significant traffic on any other social channels, test the available advertising features. Social channel advertising is constantly evolving. All the major players have been launching new opportunities including buy buttons and advertising options. This includes Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Polyvore.
Determine which social channels are most important to your business. Every industry is different; while Facebook is the most visited social network, your social ad campaigns may lead to more sales on Pinterest or Polyvore.
Free Samples to Affiliates and Bloggers
Affiliates and bloggers can help create buzz and traffic to your site. These influencers can drive conversions through product reviews and endorsements. Keep in mind the Federal Trade Commission requires bloggers and affiliates to reveal if they receive a free sample or gift from the merchant. The advertiser can be fined if the affiliate or blogger does not disclose this. Remind your affiliate partners and influencers to be transparent.
Be In the Know About Amazon and Google Changes
Online marketing is in constant flux, and it’s a challenge for key decision makers to stay on top of all changes and sift through new ad products. The one certainty for holiday planning and beyond is Amazon and Google will continue to influence your business – and your competitors too. Learn more about the end of Amazon product ads and the surge of Google shopping ads.
As the holiday season approaches, there are plenty of evolving and emerging advertising avenues. If you need help determining the best strategies for your business, or finding the time to implement them during your busiest season, Cajam Marketing can help.
Get an audit of your Bing or Connexity marketing with Cajam Marketing’s specially priced service packages. Check out Cajam Marketing’s value-priced services.
Attributed to taromanaiai / Shutterstock.com
Online merchants have long to-do lists to prepare for the busy make-or-break holiday shopping season. As you prioritize the tasks most likely to bring in conversions, optimizing your Google advertising should be at the top of the list. Here are three important questions that can help you get your Google holiday season strategy in order.
Are your Google Shopping Ads a major contributor to your sales?
Google Shopping ads (previously called product listings) have seen tremendous growth since this product was initiated. Last shopping season, shopping ads started to be a significant part in conversions and sales. Many retailers are now reporting shopping ads have overtaken their text ads. This trend will continue as Google and Bing show more text ads more frequently on all devices.
If you haven’t seen these large increases in your Google shopping ads, it is time to evaluate your strategy and optimizations now as you prepare for the holiday season. Google has significantly increased features and capabilities in the past 18 months. The platform is much more comprehensive, and the days of simply setting up a feed and bidding are over. Take advantage of the new optimizations to increase your shopping sales or improve return on ad spend including:
- Feed Content
- Negative Keywords
- Segmentation by Labels, Product Category, Item IDs
- Mobile Bidding
- Promos and Extensions
- Campaign Priorities
- Assist Value
Are your marketing tactics reflecting the large shift to mobile?
The mobile takeover has been talked about for years, and now mobile revenue is here to stay. Many ecommerce sites are reporting higher sales from mobile than desktop sales. A user-friendly mobile site is now a “must-have” to compete and capture all revenue opportunities. Given the surge of mobile conversions, marketing tactics have to be adjusted as well.
In April, Google made a big change to its search alogorithm that could affect your site’s SEO. Google now penalizes non-mobile sites by only displaying mobile friendly sites in the search results for queries from a mobile device. You can check to see if your site is mobile-friendly here.
Here are some other considerations to make sure your marketing tactics are aligned for mobile:
- Are your emails mobile friendly?
- Are you using mobile paid search ads and sitelinks differently than your desktop ads?
- Are you testing different landing pages for mobile versus desktop?
- Are you making bid adjustments differently for mobile?
- Do you have different banners for retargeting for mobile devices?
Are you utilizing all available extensions in Google?
Most advertisers are aware of sitelinks and how they increase performance. Google continues to add new extensions, each with its own advantages. They improve click-through rate and conversions when implemented successfully. Some of them include:
- Call out extensions
- Call extensions
- Location extensions
- Review extensions
- App extensions
- Structured snippets extensions
If you need help keeping your Google marketing campaigns in line with the ever-evolving ad products and changes, Cajam Marketing’s Google® certified paid search specialists can help. Just in time for Q4 and the start of 2016, Cajam Marketing is offering specially priced audits of Google Shopping accounts.
Prepping for Black Friday? Learn how the discontinuation of Amazon product ads and recent comparison shopping engine changes can affect your holiday season online marketing.
For many diligent e-tailers who started preparing for the 2015 holiday shopping season before their 2014 holiday shipments left the warehouse, Amazon’s upcoming pay per click ad changes have derailed some planned holiday ad campaigns. Luckily, there’s still time for nimble, adaptable online businesses to switch gears and take advantage of new Amazon ad opportunities for the 2015 retail holiday season.
Amazon recently announced they are discontinuing Amazon Product Ads and Text Ads effective October 31, 2015. For many companies, Amazon Product Ads provide an opportunity to have visibility on Amazon without selling in the Amazon marketplace. The Amazon pay-per-click product ad displays a relevant product from the online retailer’s product feed to an Amazon shopper. When the shopper clicks on the ad, the shopper is taken to the merchant’s website to order. For some merchants, this is a significant source of revenue that will no longer be available.
Are You Prepared For Amazon Product Ad Changes?
Here are some questions for you to assess how this change will affect your bottom line and determine your next steps.
How Much Revenue Do Amazon Product Ads Drive For Your Site?
Many smaller retailers have had great success and increased revenue from Amazon Product Ads. Take a look at your revenue sources and determine the percentage of your sales attributed to Amazon Product Ads.
Can You Replace This Revenue With Other Amazon Advertising?
Amazon briefly had a text ad program in beta. These ads were going to replace some of the ads Google was providing on Amazon. After a very short testing period, Amazon announced the program will also be discontinued on October 31, 2015. At this time, ads from third party such as Google Adwords and Bing will continue to show.
If you are opted into Google search partners, your ads will automatically appear on Amazon when it wins the bid/relevance. Since Google does not provide insight into their partners, the only optimization you can do is opt in or out. For Bing, you can optimize based on the site. We recommend reviewing Bing’s search partners in the coming months to see how Amazon changes affect results.
Amazon Sponsored Ads
The Amazon Sponsored Ad program for merchants who sell on the Amazon marketplace will continue. These sponsored ads will have a stronger visibility when the product ads are discontinued. The pay per click sponsored ad takes a shopper to the Amazon marketplace listing rather than the merchant’s website. For online merchants who sell on Amazon, these ads help shoppers find your product, giving you the advantage over your competitors in the marketplace.
Are You Utilizing All Profitable Amazon Opportunities?
Your visibility on Amazon is an important point to consider. In a recent study, it was found that 39% of consumers start a search on Amazon, while only 11% start on Google. Questions to consider if you haven’t already:
- Should you sell directly on Amazon?
- Is it profitable to participate in sponsored ads to drive more volume on Amazon?
- Have you planned for the decline of sales from Amazon product ads?
- Are you opted into search partners for Google and Bing to have visibility on Amazon with text ads?
- Have you looked at Bing’s performance on Amazon within their search partners?
Need help answering these questions? Cajam Marketing paid search specialists can help you sift through your sales data and come up with the most profitable plan for your holiday season and beyond.