How to outdo the PPC robots in shopping ads

Automation driven by improvements in artificial intelligence and machine learning will bring significant changes to how we manage pay-per-click (PPC) in 2018 and beyond.
There’s still a role for humans to play, one of which is to use what we’ve learned from years of experience to bring an account as close to perfection as possible before letting the machines take it from there.
Shopping ad performance may appear to be largely dependent on how well the automated algorithms work, with little room for account managers to optimize things. This is because the targeting is done automatically by Google, based on whatever products are in the merchant feed and how those relate to shoppers’ queries.
But there are still ways for account managers to tweak things to move the needle in the right direction.
In today’s post, I’ll explain seven ways to improve the performance of shopping ads.
Eliminate ambiguous and expensive queries
I remember several years ago, one of our customers wrote about

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Giants collide: Google’s impending showdown with Amazon

Talk in the digital advertising space has traditionally focused on Google and Facebook’s digital duopoly, each fighting for more of your advertising dollars. But for Google, the real competition is coming from elsewhere.
Over the last few years, Google has pushed further and further into the retail space. Simultaneously, Amazon expanded its advertising platform. In the end, they both want the same thing: your purchase intent.
As these two tech behemoths continue to get more and more similar, who will lead? And more importantly, what should you do about it?
Google’s bid to become a retailer
We’re used to thinking of Google as a search engine. For advertisers, Google’s search engine results page (SERP) is composed of text and product (Google Shopping) ads. The popularity of these product ads with digital marketers has grown in popularity. According to Adobe’s Digital Index, spend on Google Shopping has surpassed that of text ads in every market.

This is especially true when it comes to

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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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‘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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Is holiday paid search more competitive in 2017 than 2016?

The busy 2017 holiday shopping season is now in full swing, and we’ve already witnessed impressive Y/Y sales growth on key shopping days.
As advertisers dig into their own performance, many are taking stock of the competition to get a sense for what other brands are doing. This was a key topic for a #ppcchat Twitter conversation immediately following Cyber Weekend, in which host Kirk Williams posed the following question to chat-goers.

As you can see, most brands felt they saw more competition this year than last year, though 39 percent felt it was about the same. Zero respondents felt that there was less competition this year than last.
Taking a look at Auction Insights reports from Google for a sample of large Merkle retail advertisers, we can get a sense for how many brands were bidding on paid search keywords this year compared to last. As always, the metrics found in these reports and the stories they tell will

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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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Four key holiday paid search trends to keep an eye on

During the holidays, there are a million different data points advertisers can look at to see how paid search is performing throughout this crucial shopping period. Depending on business goals and the type of products sold, which of those data points are most important for a particular site can vary widely from one brand to the next.
That said, there are a few overarching trends that apply to many advertisers and which help to set the stage for performance expectations over the coming weeks. Here I’ll outline four interesting paid search trends I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Will Black Friday continue to close the paid search sales gap on Cyber Monday?
Black Friday is for doorbusters. Cyber Monday is for online deals. That’s the way this thing is supposed to go, right?
The lines are blurring on those distinctions, with Black Friday Google paid search sales growth far outpacing that of Cyber Monday last year.
Paid search sales growth from 2015

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5 ways to sell more this holiday season with Google’s updates to shopping ads

With the biggest e-commerce days of the year just around the corner, it’s not too late to take advantage of some of Google’s newest ways to help you sell more stuff online.
Attract users earlier in the buying process with showcase ads
For consumers who are further along the path to an online purchase, Google is good for finding the best price and doing more in-depth research, but it traditionally hasn’t been the best place to help consumers make choices earlier in their decision process.
But with Showcase Shopping ads, Google is delivering a better discovery process for these shoppers. This ad format was introduced in limited beta in 2016 and is now available to every retailer. The idea behind it is that it allows advertisers to use a mix of lifestyle images and products to showcase its brand for generic e-commerce searches where ads for specific products wouldn’t be relevant.
Showcase Shopping ads allow retailers to promote their brand to

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AdWords Editor update supports Shopping Showcase Ads

AdWords Editor version 12.1 is now available, with support added for several features, including Shopping showcase ads and expanded dynamic search ads.
Showcase ads feature three product images from a retailer that are related to the search query and link to a Google-hosted landing page of products the advertiser groups together. Google first introduced showcase ads in July 2016, but they continue to gain visibility.

To set up Showcase ads in Shopping campaign ad group, select “Showcase” from the “Ad group type” drop-down.
Showcase ads is available as an ad type option in the left navigation. Advertisers can upload a header image (the main image that represents the product category or brand) right in Editor.

The latest version of AdWords Editor is now available for download.
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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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