Google Product Extension Ads Tests

As the Rimm Kaufman Group (RKG) pointed out a while back, when Google displayed Extension Ads at the top of the page (above organic listings), Google usually used the advertiser name next to the plus box.  When the Extension Ad was on the side of the page, Google usually referred to the advertiser as just an advertiser.

From the RKG blog:

When the keyword has a lower click volume, then the keyword can move to the right panel and the message will change to “Show products from this advertiser”.  While that data is difficult to tease out on a query by query basis, we are generalizing that lower click volume keywords are often appearing on the right panel, as compared to those analyzed in the “top 50” group defined above.

For the first time I’m seeing Google refer to the advertiser as the site/brand name on the side bar.  In the image below, you’ll see that Target gets their name and ACityDiscount.com gets plain old ‘advertiser’ next to the plus box.

Stephanie Tilenius’ Keynote at Internet Retailer – Google Commerce is about Mobile, Social, Personalization and Local

June 10, 2010 3 comments

Here are my notes on Stephanie Tilenius’ second public speaking event as VP of eCommerce at Google titled Betting on Disruption.  Over 30 minutes, Stephanie shared pretty commonly known information, but in a much more clear 10K foot view than we’ve previously heard from Google.  As with all live blogging, some of the information that follows is paraphrased.

There are 4 key areas that are important to Google’s eCommerce initiatives: Mobile, Social, Personalization, and Local.  These are trends that will change commerce in powerful ways.

Mobile phone adoption is growing at fast pace.  4.6 billion people have mobile phones.  Today 1 in 5 people in the US have a smart phone.  Last year it was 1 in 10 people.   Android is now growing faster than iPhone platform.  Half of all internet connections are from mobile devices.  Consumers are accessing websites through mobile devices.  We believe that the mobile web is going to be bigger than the PC web.  The mobile web is accelerating 8x faster than PC web.

What are people doing with their phones?  Searching (has grown 5x in last 2yrs) and Shopping.

Shopping.  Half of consumers this past holiday shopping season said they used their phones for shopping – to research products of find coupons.  Google has seen a 30x growth in mobile shopping queries.  Mobile internet usage is elevated during the weekends (and there’s a correlated drop in PC based internet usage).  Look at Japan, during commute time and lunch time, mobile usage increases (with correlated drop in PC based internet usage).  Google is betting on mobile first.  It will be bigger than the PC web.

Google Goggles.  Allows you to scan products.  Translates a picture of a book cover or barcode into a query on the web. We’re getting better at soft goods (shoes for example). You can take a picture of something you want, walk down the street, and be able to find it in a store.

Social. We see a rise of social sites.  1 out of every 6 minutes online is social.  1 out of every X (might have been 20, but I’m not sure) tweets is about products.

Personalization. Mentioned and showed the SuperBowl ad called Parisian Love.  We enabled consumers to create their own ads.  We had 100K videos within 2 weeks.  Highlighted Polyvore, which features user generated content (UGC), basically enabling consumers to create their own designs and have others buy them.  Empowering users to drive commerce is a big trend.

Local. You can get info on a local provider in search, mobile, or on the PC.  1 in 5 desktop searches are local.  1 in 3 mobile searches are local.  Near Me Now button just released.  Shows everything around you.  80% of people using Near Me Now are undecided about what they want to do.

What about these trends?  What does it mean for you?  Three pieces of advice: Be Found, Make Your Ads Useful, and Create a Seamless Shopping Experience Online and Offline.

Be found

Ad for Denny’s during SuperBowl highlighted the need to be in search as viewers searched for Denny’s because of the TV ad.  You need to be in search.  Stephanie showed the Google Shopping product page that has developed over the last year to include nearby stores, video reviews, tech specs, prices, etc.  We’re taking product feeds and putting the information out there.  Discussed the partnership with BazaarVoice.  Best Buy and Sony Style are some early adopters.  Talked about mobile shopping with local availability, the Blue Dots, which highlights inventory that’s available right now in the store.  Best Buy, Williams Sonoma, and Sears are 3 of over a dozen retailers participating.

Make your ads useful

We’ve improve the format for text ads.  What should we do for commercial information?  We’ve added 5 or 6 different formats:

-Site links (merchant decides what to promote, what links to display).  S

-Store locator

-Product listings (ads) – We’ve taken the product feed and put the information (price, picture, title) right in the ad.  Using the feed the merchant has already sent us.

-Product extension ads – We let the merchants decide which products to promote, how to run campaigns.

-Click to call ads

Across all these ad formats, we’ve see an increase of 10-30% CTR.

-Remarketing. Showed IHG (Intercontinental Hotels) example.  Retargeting enables retailers to target promos to consumers who have left their site.

Create a seamless shopping experience – offline and online.  93% of sales is still in the stores.  We launched a product called Google Shopper.  We have over 700K downloads.  We’re encouraging you to think about blending offline and online.

Data on how this is all coming together:

-Macys: every $1 online drives $6 in stores within 10 days

-Best Buy: 80% of customers who come in the door went online to bestbuy.com first

Notion is that today’s retail experience will get richer and richer.  Html5 and mobile web – you need to innovate.  It’s time for websites and mobile commerce to start innovating.  87% of consumers search before they buy.

Google Has Booth at Internet Retailer

Google has a booth at Internet Retailer.  It’s a small one, the 10×10.  And as opposed to the normal plethora of products, Google is only displaying three…and not the ones you’d expect.  Nowhere to be seen is Google Product Search, Google Merchant Center, Google AdWords, and Google Places.  Instead, it’s Google Affiliate Network, Google Commerce Search, and Google TV Ads.

Not sure how or why these three products were chosen, but it seems to have been a last minute decision as the booth is at the end of a row.

Google’s VP of Ecommerce, Stephanie Tilenuis, will be speaking tomorrow.

We’ll let you know what she has to say.

Google Shopper – Google Shopping for your Mobile Phone

June 8, 2010 1 comment

Google Shopper for AndroidGoogle Shopper is a Labs product.  As an Android phone user, I’ve tested the application out a number of times.  The product allows you to perform an image search, voice search, or a text search for a product.  Image search recognizes cover art and scans barcodes.  Voice search is self explanatory, although for some reason, I’m always pleasantly surprised that it understands what I’m saying.   And text search is the normal text search you’d perform on any computer.  The application allows the consumer to view a history of product searches.  There’s also a way to ‘star’ a product like you’d star an email in Gmail, but I’ve never been able to figure out that feature.

Once you’ve performed a search, you get results that look just like Google Shopping search results.  And that’s because Google Shopper is just a mobile entry path for Google Shopping.  Which means that if a merchant wants to take advantage of Google Shopper, they have to submit a Google Merchant Center data feed.  Again, the power of the data feed at work.  Understanding one of the themes of this blog yet?

Once on a product page, which is just a stripped down version of a Google Shopping/Google Product Search product page, you have four options: see an overview of the product, compare prices, read reviews, and see product details.  As this is all driven by Google Shopping, all of this information is fairly straight forward, although I especially like the idea of reviews and product details.  I’ve stood in a Macy’s looking at luggage, scanned a barcode, quickly checked to make sure I wasn’t being ripped off, then checked out reviews of the bag.  And in comparing laptops, the product details came in handy as those little cards at Best Buy don’t always go into the detail I want.

On each product page, there’s an option to broadcast/share the product in lots of ways.  The way my Android phone is set up and connected with other services I use, the way of broadcasting products is similar to how it works for Picasa.  Clicking on the share button, I can send it to Facebook, Twitter (through whatever client I’m using), Gmail, regular mail, or text message.  I’m sure other methods of sharing would come up if I were connected to other services.   So in a couple clicks I could easily share a product with my friends on Facebook and ask for feedback.  Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten this feature to work in the last couple months as I get the error message: ‘Your link could not be shared.’ when I try to share it on Facebook.  (Paul, any help would be appreciated!)

When people talk about ecommerce these days, they are usually talk about transacting on the mobile phone.  Yes, this is a fast growing area of ecommerce, but I think the much more exciting prospect at this point is helping consumers make informed buying decisions when not in front of a computer.  This can be done through all the features that Google Shopper has available: check price, read reviews, see product details, share with friends, etc.  And then there’s the connection with Local stores, the so called Blue Dots and services like Milo, to help a consumer figure out if a product is available locally.  More on that later.

Google Product Extensions Explained

June 2, 2010 1 comment

In November of 2009, Google made Product Extensions available to all US merchants.

…product extensions are a way for you to enrich your existing AdWords ads with more relevant and specific information. Product extensions allow you to use your existing Google Merchant Center account to highlight your products directly in your search ads. When your AdWords text ad appears, and your Google Merchant Center account contains products that are relevant to the searcher’s query, product extensions show the images, titles, and prices of your products in a plusbox under your ad.

There are two formats for Product Extensions, depending on the placement

Format 1: Top placement.  See it in action.

Format 2: Side placement.  See it in action.

This is a great opportunity for all merchants and Google as data  from Google and Rimm Kaufman Group has shown that Product Extensions increase click through rate (CTR).  With this new ad format, Google gets more clicks, which makes them more money, and the merchant gets more click throughs, which means more sales (assuming on site conversion remains constant – and no one has said anything to the contrary).

Product Extensions is an AdWords product which means that merchants are charged on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis, as they would be for their normal AdWords ad.  A merchant is only charged when a searcher clicks through on a listing, not when a searcher clicks the + or – sign.

To get started with Product Extension ads, a merchants need to connect their AdWords and Google Merchant Center accounts.  This is done within Google Merchant Center.  Just click on Settings > AdWords and enter your AdWords Customer ID:

It might take 24hrs for the hookup to take effect.

What most merchants don’t realize, though, is that there are important ways to control and target the Extension ads

What’s more, product extensions give you the option to prefer which products are displayed when a user’s query triggers your ads. For example, you may sell dozens of laptop computers but you want to promote the newest or best selling inventory using product extensions when a user searches for ‘laptop computer’ on Google.com. By making a simple addition to your Merchant Center account, you can easily control the products that display for certain queries. Of course, you can always use automatic targeting, and let AdWords determine the most relevant products in your account to a user’s query.

This targeting takes place by adding attributes to the Google Merchant Center data feed.  We strongly encourage you to read the directions here.  Here are the accepted attributes:

-adwords_queryparam

-adwords_prefer_for_query

-adwords_redirect

The adwords_prefer_for_query is especially powerful as it allows a merchant to target the exact offer for a specific query.

Product Extensions, like Product Listing Ads, are part of Google’s Ad Formats initiative (video or text).

Google Product Reviews Program Takes Shape – Logos on Product Search pages

June 2, 2010 1 comment

Product reviews are an essential part of online shopping. BazaarVoice and PowerReviews provide incredible value to merchants and eventually the consumers who use the reviews to make informed buying decisions.

Back in April, Google announced its Product Reviews Program in partnership with BazaarVoice. In the blog post, Google mentioned that it would display the logo of the merchant that a review came from on Google Product Search.

Through the program, we will begin featuring full-length product reviews and user ratings from participating retailers and manufacturers wherever it will help users with their shopping, including in our search results and advertising programs. On Google Product Search, for example, we’ll feature your logo alongside representative reviews from your site, increasing brand exposure for your web store at a key point in the conversion process.

I’m starting to see these logos.  Here are some examples:

Search: Nesco Professional FD-75PR 700 Watt Food Dehydrator – see logo for Northern Tool

Search: Cuisinart CBT-500 SmartPower 600 Watt Chrome Blender -  see logos for HSN, QVC, and Best Buy

Obviously a great branding opportunity for any merchant.  Google will have other partners in the program and will also allow merchants to submit directly if they don’t work with one of their partners.

Google Product Listing Ads Explained

June 1, 2010 2 comments

Google Product Listings AdIn November of 2009, Google started testing a new ad format called Google Product Lising Ads.  I will refer to the ad format as Product Listing Ads or just Product Listings.  While Product Listings was announced on the Google AdWords blog and is called a new feature of Adwords in this Google Ad Innovations video, it’s easier to consider this a Google Affiliate Network product as the merchant pays on a Cost Per Acquisition/Action (CPA) basis.

Regardless of which unit within Google owns this product at this point, here are the important details:

•Google Product Listing Ads work on CPA basis
•Google decides when to show, what to show, etc.
•The ads are powered by a Google Merchant Center data feed
Here’s what is going on.  Google has been cleaning up affiliate AdWords ads for a long time, cutting down on the riff-raff in the affiliate space that arguably doesn’t add a lot of value and imposing restrictions on affiliates who have the same top level domain as other advertisers.  However, Google knows that affiliate listings can be extremely valuable.  And with Product Listings, Google is becoming the affiliate of the merchant (the publisher, in affiliate speak) and displaying advertiser listing when and where it wants.
Google has the infrastrucutre to charge on a CPA basis (because of the Google Affiliate Network) and it has the data from the merchant (because of the Google Merchant Center data feed – yes, another example of the power of the data feed!) to display whatever types of listings can drive the most value.
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