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Commerce Holiday Tips for Paid Search and CSEsAs 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.

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