Google debuts giant new look for Local Inventory Ad product search in Knowledge Panels

Last May, Google introduced the ability to find out if a local retailer had specific products in stock right from the knowledge panel listing for the retailer. Now, it’s dedicating a whole lot more real estate to the feature.
Glenn Gabe, digital marketing consultant at G-Squared Interactive, tweeted a look at the update. Below are a couple of examples. It’s available on both mobile and desktop and goes well beyond the simple “Search items at this store link” that Google originally showed. A large section includes a search box, product category links and large product listings. On mobile, users can swipe through a carousel of product listings.

The feature is part of the Local Inventory Ads product, which enables retailers to promote products available in their locations via inventory feeds submitted to Google. The links and search results lead to Google Shopping pages.
Google is also running a test to show relevant text ads in knowledge panel listings for local businesses.

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Nailing down ads for the holiday season

Believe it or not, it’s that time again for us to start gearing up for the holidays. Not every brand sufficiently prepares their paid media campaigns for this fast-paced season — and for e-commerce brands, this is especially crucial.
Getting ahead of the competitive holiday season is a recurring obstacle. To start off on the right foot, you need to centralize your merchant feed, plan on making foundational optimizations, analyze your historical and competitor promotions, but most importantly, diversify your paid media shopping mix.
By creating diversification within your paid media shopping campaigns, you will positively impact your holiday ROI and set up a framework for future e-commerce growth.
Consider the following paid media tactics to be more effective and successful as an online retailer.
Capturing demand through PLAs and Google Shopping
Google Shopping or product listing ads (PLAs) are sizzling hot, especially while we prepare for the holiday season. Ever since PLAs gained popularity in 2011, they’ve evolved to be prominent

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Amazon’s Echo Show is a ‘1.0’ device, both exciting and frustrating

I’ve now been living with the Echo Show for several weeks. It has supplanted my original Amazon Echo in the kitchen. I find it both more exciting and more frustrating than the original.
The screen adds a compelling new element but creates expectations that are not fully realized — as though Amazon is ambivalent or uncertain how far to take the screen as a parallel way of controlling and navigating content.
The screen makes things more complicated, even as it makes the device more interesting and useful. It opens a door to a much larger set of use cases, including a much more obvious commerce opportunity. (It’s not clear whether Amazon’s rivals will follow and add screens to their devices. If the Show is a runaway hit, I suspect they will.)
Creates tablet-like expectations
Immediately for me, the Echo Show’s screen created UX expectations associated with a tablet. I wanted to touch it and get menus and navigation. I wanted to browse and search for things using the screen. I

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Report: 43% of millennials have made a voice-device purchase in past year

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According to a new “Future of Retail” report from Walker Sands, 19 percent of consumers have made a purchase using a voice-controlled device in the past 12 months. The numbers go way up, however, for millennials, with 37 percent reporting “they ‘always’ or ‘often’ shop online via voice-controlled devices.” Among this group, 43 percent made a purchase using voice in the past year.
The data are based on a recent US consumer survey of just over 1,600 adults and can be interpreted in bullish or bearish ways for voice. More than 80 percent of the overall survey population said they had not made a voice-driven purchase and nearly half (48 percent) said they were “not at all likely” to do so.

Source: Walker Sands Future of Retail report (July 2017)
Security, privacy, “lack of visuals” and uncertainty about price/payment were the top four reasons that people were hesitant to buy on voice-first devices or devices without a screen. Of

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Reviews & other UGC more influential for consumers than search engines & ads [Study]

It’s well-established that ratings and reviews are widely consulted and have a significant impact on consumer purchase decisions. A new study from TurnTo affirms this and provides some additional color and nuance for the discussion.
Called “Hearing the Voice of the Consumer” and conducted by Ipsos, the study involved 1,070 US consumers who had bought something online in the past 12 months. User-generated content (UGC) is defined here to include ratings, reviews, photos, videos, social posts and Q&A participation. The most common forms were reviews and ratings, however, with 71 percent and 69 percent of survey respondents saying they’ve submitted those types of UGC.
Online ratings and reviews are a form of word of mouth, which is the most trusted source consumers consult before buying. Indeed, 90 percent of survey respondents said UGC had at least some influence over their online purchases. Roughly 53 percent rated it “extremely influential” or “very influential,” a higher percentage than for any other category. After UGC, search engines had the greatest influence over purchases.

UGC helps increase consumer confidence

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How to solve the mystery of what your customers really want

How well do you really know your customers? If your company is like most brands, you already realize that you don’t really know them at all. In fact, a 2015 study from Aberdeen Group found that just 4 percent of organizations are fully satisfied with their ability to ensure data-driven conversations with their customers.
That’s a shockingly small number. And it’s also a huge problem, especially in today’s customer-first culture. Data-driven insights are the key to increasing customer satisfaction. If you don’t know your buyers, how can you really help them? That disconnect can very quickly translate into reduced ROI and decreased revenue for your business. That’s why it’s so important to incorporate data and analytics into every activity designed to support the customer experience. It’s simple math: better customer interactions equal superior business results.
So, if it’s so simple, why aren’t more companies doing it? What does it take to use analytics effectively, and how can you turn

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How much is a happy customer worth?

In today’s highly analytical marketing world, is it really possible to place a value on customer happiness? Well, yes. And that’s just what we’re going to cover in our upcoming webinar, “The Value of a Happy Customer: Action steps to a great customer experience.”
We’ll hear from customer experience expert Christine Crandell, who will explain why – and how – brands must focus on building positive customer experiences at every digital touchpoint.
Katy Keim of Lithium will then share the results of a new Harris Poll, that quantifies the value of a positive customer experience. In today’s sharing economy, where customers can instantly amplify their experiences, savvy marketers know how – and where – to connect with and build a loyal customer base.
Join us to learn how to build and maintain loyal, happy customers – and deliver positive results to your bottom line.
Register today for “The Value of a Happy Customer: Action steps to a great customer experience,” produced

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Twiggle offers plug-and-play semantic search to online retailers

Twiggle is a company founded by two former Google employees. It promises to bring “semantic search” to e-commerce sites with minimal technical integration. Udi Manber, formerly head of search at Google and Amazon’s A9, is a board member.
Last week, the company released a “Semantic API,” which “gives retailers the ability to add a semantic layer to their existing search engines and interact with their online customers in a more personal and natural way.” The idea is that Twiggle will bring state-of-the-art search sophistication to companies that can’t develop the technology on their own.
I spoke with Amir Konigsberg, CEO of Twiggle. He told me that his company spent three years building out an ontology that allows Twiggle to process and deeply understand billions of products and associated attributes. Twiggle also does data structuring and normalization and enhances products with additional metadata.

Konigsberg critiques current e-commerce search capabilities as being very basic and not delivering an optimal user experience. Clicks

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7 ways small retailers can compete with retail giants using Google Shopping

To a small niche retailer, it can seem daunting (almost pointless) to invest too heavily in Google Shopping. After all, how could you ever compete with the major players who have far more money, products and people than you do?
Well, the good news is, it is possible to be competitive in Google Shopping as a small business. In fact, done right, Google Shopping can actually be the most effective digital advertising platform in terms of Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).
Here are the top strategies for success as a small to medium-sized retailer in Google Shopping.
1. Focus on your niche
As a small retailer, you likely sell a very limited selection of niche products. Whether these are your own personal brand or from independent designers, this exclusivity is your strength.
Selling products that aren’t sold by Amazon or a hundred other retailers means there’s less competition to appear in Google Shopping for relevant searches. Even better, if you create and

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True marketing automation is predicting a customer’s next move, not reacting to a moment

It’s time to stop trusting expert opinions on shopper behavior and start trusting the machines. By building a unified profile of your customers’ behavior across all channels, you can create truly personalized shopping experiences.
In “Trusting the Machine: Data Science and the Multi-Channel, Multi-Device Shopper” from Emarsys, you’ll learn how to stop focusing on traditional, linear paths to purchase and shift to an omnichannel marketing strategy.
Visit Digital Marketing Depot Today to get this MarTech Today white paper.
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