Insights from our 2017 holiday retail survey

By most accounts, the holiday shopping season was an e-commerce success, with final tallies beating analyst estimates. Earlier this month, we asked e-commerce teams about their holiday marketing strategies — planning, budgeting and expectations — and what they did differently this year from last year.
Nearly 100 respondents shared their feedback. The majority (57 percent) of respondents worked in-house, while 43 percent were at agencies. The client/company size represented skewed to the smaller end, with 60 percent of respondents working with companies with annual revenues below $25 million. Nearly 13 percent represented companies with annual revenues over $500 million.
There were several interesting findings from the survey. Here are some of the highlights from the final results.
Holiday budgets rose across most platforms
Overall, search and social budgets increased this holiday season over the previous year, with 70 percent of respondents saying they increased budgets on both channels. Display retargeting budgets for more than half of respondents (56 percent) also increased

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Survey: Smart speaker ownership steals time from smartphones, TV, radio

In a follow-up to mid-2017 research on US smart speaker ownership, NPR and Edison Research have released new findings indicating that nearly 40 million Americans now own the devices. That number is roughly double what it was in July 2017 and shows the impact of 2017 holiday sales on the market.
The new survey was conducted in two parts, online and by telephone, in November and then in late December. It reflects that satisfaction with these devices is high, and people are using them more frequently and gradually expanding the use cases. Another striking finding is that smart speaker ownership is impacting (read: decreasing) usage of other media and devices.

As one might expect, smart speakers tend to be placed in the living room and then the kitchen. Other research found that smart speaker ownership triggered smart home appliance and fixture purchases. In the NPR survey, a significant percentage (31 percent) of owners reported that they had “controlled household devices with

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New test prominently showcases Google Express in mobile search results

Image: Google
This week, we spotted a new treatment for Google Express in the search results. This included two new elements: a promotion for the program at the top of the results and a new look for Google Express ads in the Shopping carousel.
The “Get it with Google Express” promotion at the very top of the results, just below the navigation, touts the program’s easy checkout and free delivery. The Google Express Shopping ad features the program logo and displays the participating retailer name — in this case, Walmart — selling the product showcased in the ad.

These changes combine to make the Google Express program much more prominent on the page. Google typically displays these ads with “Google Express” in place of the retailer name and “Free shipping” in the promotion area of the ad. Here are examples of these ads in a Knowledge Panel and a regular Shopping carousel:
The test is quite limited. It’s running on mobile

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Take our Holiday Retail Survey & let us know how your search marketing strategy changed this year

Did you switch up your holiday digital marketing strategies in 2017? Maybe extend your search ad campaigns? Or sell on more marketplaces? If so, we want to know about it.
Please take five minutes to complete the SMX survey exploring what digital marketing strategies were put in place by search marketers this holiday retail season — the 2017 Holiday Retail Survey.
Responses are kept anonymous, and the data gathered from the survey results will be shared during the Holiday Retail Search Strategies webcast on January 18, featuring panelists Brad Geddes, the co-founder of Adalysis, Marketing Land associate editor Ginny Marvin, Elite SEM’s Aaron Levy and CommerceHub’s Elizabeth Marsten.
Completing the survey will help add to the conversation around this season’s best search marketing strategies and whether strategy shifts were advantageous. Also, survey participants are entered for a chance to win a copy of Brad Geddes’ “Advanced Google Adwords” search marketing guide.
Everyone is invited to register for the January 18 webcast

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‘Purchases on Google’ Shopping ads test is running on iOS devices

AmsStudio / Shutterstock.com
Google appears to be testing Purchases on Google ads on iOS devices.
Purchases on Google ads enable consumers to buy products shown in Google Shopping ads right from Google-hosted landing pages when users have payments set up through their Google accounts. The product launched in pilot on Android devices in 2015 and opened up in beta to US advertisers this spring.
Below are a couple of examples of the Purchases on Google ads we spotted this morning on iOS. Each is slugged with “Easy checkout.”

It’s not clear how long these ads have been available on iOS. With the initial pilot launch in 2015, Google said Purchases on Google would come to iOS in the “coming months,” but it appears to have taken much longer than that, perhaps closer to the beta opening up. We’ve asked Google for comment and will update here if and when we get a response. Update: We received confirmation that these ads have been available on

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Google Manufacturer Center for product data expands scope, launches API

With the growing importance of Google Shopping campaigns in paid search results for brands and manufacturers, getting product data correct and consistent has become an increasingly urgent task. It’s been a somewhat sleepy product, but this week, Google announced new features and an expansion of Manufacturer Center.
Launched in 2015, Google Manufacturer Center was designed to be a central repository for the product data that powers Google Shopping campaigns. Now, Google is using that data in knowledge panels in the US, including product features, images and descriptions. Earlier this month, Google began showing much more content in knowledge panels on mobile, including product features as shown in the example below.

Google Manufacturer Center is now available in more countries: Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
With the launch of a new Manufacturer Center API, brands and third-party data partners can add, update and delete products without having to rely on manual feed uploads.
In addition to streamlining product

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Shopify meets call tracking

As we enter the 2020s, e-commerce is set to generate more than $480 billion in the US and nearly $2 trillion globally. And while Amazon takes a lot of credit for online everything, they’re hardly the only game in town. A significant chunk of online retail is generated by smaller players, thanks in part to platforms like Shopify that make it easy to sell in the digital space, as well as in person — and that have the potential to merge the online and offline experience into an omnichannel version of commerce. Let’s take a look at how we got here, and how e-commerce platforms and retailers should be operating in this new, seamless marketplace.
Shifting to Shopify
In 2004, Tobias Lütke, a purveyor of fine snowboards, wanted to sell his wares online. Today, that would be simple; in the pre-Shopify world, e-commerce platforms were clunky and difficult to integrate with other services and platforms. Rather than continue to

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Three ways to use a domain name for business today

www.Com
Registering a domain name is one of the first steps to starting a new business. That’s because whatever name is chosen will represent the business’s space on the internet — and, possibly, a customer’s first impression of the company.
But once you have that domain name, what do you do? Don’t stress over building an online space. Start using a domain name right away. Here are three ways to do it.
Set up a company-branded email address
The web address can also be used as an email address. A company-branded email address can give you and your employees a more professional-looking branded channel for communication with customers, as well as free marketing for your company. In a 2015 survey, 74 percent of consumers said they would trust a company-branded email address more than a free email address. It’s easy and cost-effective to set up, too. The provider you use to register your domain name can most likely help you set

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3 behavioral stats for retailers to supercharge your holiday strategy

What’s different about the holidays this year? If you’re a marketer, you need to know how your target consumers have changed their needs, wants and shopping habits before you can truly craft your best seasonal strategy. You also had better keep an eye on what your competitors are doing differently.
At the company I work for, Salsify, we analyze aggregate retail search activity, and we’ve discovered it grows more widely distributed during the shopping period leading up to the holidays. We’ve recently conducted research (registration required) on the keywords that shoppers use around the holidays and we’ve identified important opportunities for brands to expand their keyword lists. Leading brands are also dramatically boosting the pace of their product content updates to capitalize on the opportunity throughout the season to win market share.
Let’s run through the top three takeaways from our study:
1. The 2016 holiday season drove a 30 percent increase in the number of top retail search terms —

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Google Shopping gets top spot impression share & product diagnostics reporting

Each year, Google rolls out several new features ahead of the holidays for retail advertisers. This year’s updates have started coming out.
The company introduced a new metric and new reporting for Shopping campaign advertisers — only in the new AdWords interface.
The new metric, called absolute top impression share, reports how often Shopping ads and Local Inventory ads appear in the first spot on mobile and desktop. Google says that during Q4 last year, the first Shopping ad on mobile saw up to three times more engagement than the other spots.
On the Products page, a new diagnostics report lets advertisers dig deeper into product status issues in AdWords.

 
These features can be added to the list of features exclusive to the new AdWords interface — what Google calls the new AdWords experience — that’s rolling out to advertisers through this year.
The post Google Shopping gets top spot impression share & product diagnostics reporting appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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