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The five latest Google Ads features and how to make the most of them

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30-second summary:

  • Make no mistake, Google Shopping is still mostly a paid PPC channel, but you can also enjoy its free traffic
  • Video and display formats are not the type of ad you think of when it comes to online acquisition
  • They are more popular for brand awareness and influence targets
  • All conversions are not born equal, especially, when it comes to acquisition channels – a purchase on your site from a new customer has more value than one from a returning one
  • It’s easy to forget that most of the business still happens offline and that Zoom calls and online shopping are not all there is to life
  • Yet offline conversion trackings are not always taken into account
  • With Gallery Ads, Google offers a new ad format integrated into the Search Network
  • As these ad formats are for mobile displays only, their dimensions enable advertisers to make a stronger impact than with a text ad

Google released new smart features and ways to buy ads on its different channels. They allow marketers to increase their reach and to try new approaches. As always with the novelty, there will be a learning curve.

At SEISO, the reference PPC insight platform, we analyzed the impact of these updates on more than 13,000 accounts. Here is how you can make them work for you.

Content created in partnership with SEISO.

1. Get listed for free on Google Shopping

Make no mistake, Google Shopping is still mostly a paid PPC channel, but you can also enjoy its free traffic. Why is there a free option? After the introduction of the shopping channel, Google ousted most of the other price comparison websites from its SERP (Shopping.com, Shopzilla, BizRate, and others). The move was so aggressive that in 2017, the European Commission fined Google €2.42 billion (~$3 billion) for breaching EU antitrust rules by “giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.” Although it is still going through appeal, Google has made changes to ensure other options are present on its services and SERP than its own. As for organic search optimization, you need to ensure your products appear in the first positions.

How to make it work for you

First, you need to start by optimizing your Shopping Ads and understand what products click and convert the most. For example, you can use SEISO Google Shopping Analyzer (Free to try) to get shopping reports. From there you can adapt your product feed and product pages to ensure you focus on products that are margin positive.  

SEISO Google Shopping Analyzer - Report

Source: SEISO Report for non-performing products in your shopping feed

Once you have trimmed the feed and pages, you can go to your Google Merchant Center account in the Growth Menu. There you will find a channel called “Surfaces across Google”. You want to set it to “ACTIVE”. This feature was initially available only in the USA and India but is being rolled out worldwide. 

Using Google Ads new features - Polish your Google Shopping Ads

2. Get impressions on display and YouTube ads but only pay for sales

Video and display formats are not the type of ad you think of when it comes to online acquisition. They are more popular for brand awareness and influence targets. 

But now Google wants to convince you otherwise. Why? Google has so much data on users’ profiles and their intents that they can predict what they will buy. Facebook has built its platform on what they know about the users from their browsing and sharing. Google knows the users very well: from the search queries, from the media they consume on its surfaces (videos and AMP pages), and its past purchases thanks to receipts received in Gmail. 

Thanks to this treasure trove of data points, the algorithm identifies which new video game console the user wants. And it only shows him the relevant ads when he is ready to buy. The ad will be more likely to convert and Google will get a higher revenue per page by only showing converting ads to users: win/win. 

Now you can run performance-based targeting for YouTube Ads and on the Display network. It usually means a lower reach than a CPM or a Trueview campaign but you will get incremental conversions while controlling your budget. 

Google Ads

But remember, this is a black box. The algorithm will decide to display your ad or not based on how much money it will generate for Google. If your products find an audience this is a virtuous cycle and you will get a lot of volume. If not, your campaign might not pick up at all. 

How to make it work for you

  • Use Smart Display with a tCPA or tROAS bidding strategy. This allows you to retain the benefits of the Smart Display framework without losing control.
  • Based on 13,000+ Google Ads accounts audited by SEISO, the best targeting are: “Similar converters” & “Custom Intent on your competitors”

You can use the audience analysis section of SEISO to identify which audience is the most relevant for you. And you can try it for free.

3. Customer acquisition is good but NEW customer acquisition is better

All conversions are not born equal. When it comes to acquisition channels, a purchase on your site from a new customer has more value than one from a returning one. Of course, loyalty is key and you need to take care of existing customers. But Search engine marketing is neither the main nor the most money-efficient channel to do so. CRM, whether through email marketing or earned social media are more efficient to re-engage your customers. The symbiosis between acquisition and loyalty is the best way to maximize your customer lifetime value.

Once you know how much money you can expect from a user in the long term, you are able to adapt the amount you are willing to pay for a new customer vs. an old one.

In Google Shopping, you can now take the lifetime value into account. Go in the conversion goals by clicking “Settings” in the left navigation of your Smart Shopping campaign. Use the “New Customer Acquisition” option. There, indicate the incremental price you are willing to pay per conversion for this type of customer versus a returning one. For example, if your CPA for a conversion is $42 and you set the new customer value to $38. It will let the campaign pay up to $80 for new customers and $42 for existing ones.

Google Ads

How to make it work for you

Make sure you are tracking your new customers, there are two ways to do so and you should use both:

  • Make sure your Google Ads account and your Google Analytics account are connected. This way, the algorithm is aware of all sales made on your website even if they came from another channel.
  • Set differentiated tags for new and old customers and let your ecommerce platform or your tag manager. You need to show one or the other tag depending on the status of the customer.

As a rule of thumb, you should align this with your promotion strategy. Focus on your product selection to boost your best-recruiting products. The ones that usually trigger the first sale on your website for new customers. 

4. Get offline! How to keep tracks on offline conversions

In these days and times, it is easy to forget that most of the business still happens offline and that zoom calls and online shopping are not all there is to life. Yet offline conversions tracking are not always taken into account. According to Google, 30 percent of mobile queries are local searches and it is the fastest-growing segment. And 75 percent of users making a local search will go to a store within 24 hours. This is a lot of conversions lost to online tracking.

Google Ads

The new version of the Google Ads’ local campaigns is here just for that. Local campaigns use GPS and Wifi to identify the location of the user. Google will display ads related to business advertising presence around the user’s current location. 

How to make it work for you

To succeed, you will need to set up an omnichannel tracking that integrates offline elements. From there you will be able to measure different types of conversion. You should create a set of conversion actions for each campaign:

  • In-store visits: Google automatically tracks walk-in traffic from user’s location captured from their Apps and OS). You will need to register all your points of sales addresses or GPS coordinates. 
  • Offline purchase thanks to offline the Conversions API or bulk sheets upload.
  • Online purchase through your regular tracking pixel.

Once your conversions start to show in the interface you will be able to optimize against each of these goals. Moving further you will be able to optimize the new full potential of each campaign against each target! To do so you try the SEISO campaign optimization tool for free. 

Source: SEISO PPC Campaign Optimisation Tool

5. Be creative! Push gallery ads over all networks

Gallery Ads and Showcase Shopping Ads on Search are good to be tested! 85 percent of respondents put more importance on visual information than text information. Visual information is preferred over text by at least 50% of respondents in all categories except for electronics, household goods, and wine and spirits (Intent Lab research, Feb 2019).

With Gallery Ads Google offers a new ad format integrated into the Search Network. As these ad formats are for mobile displays only, their dimensions enable advertisers to make a stronger impact than with a text ad. Google will continue to serve the same user with your creatives on new placements such as: 

  • YouTube: On the “Home” screens where more than 90% of users say they discover new brands & new products.
  • Discovery: Google Discovery App while scrolling the news feed and searching by interest.
  • Gmail: Through discovery, even though Gmail Ads are being rolled out, Discovery ads allow you to expand your reach from Gmail to other Google-owned surfaces. 

And of course, they are shown in the main result pages as Showcase Shopping Ads.

Google Ads

Google is always bringing in new features to test, The key to having a State of the Art Google Ads account is to test early. Once the features reach mass adoption you are already fully optimized and have secured the best positions.

There is much more to discover in the SEISO analysis report, including expert tips and best practices, account activity analysis, and more than 75 criteria sifted.

Are your Google Ads Campaigns optimized? Try SEISO for free TODAY, click on this link: www.seiso.io/en.

SEISO

Search Engine Watch – PPC

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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5 Tips to Boost Your Holiday Search Strategy

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Student writing on computer

With the global economic downturn, inflation, ongoing supply chain challenges, and uncertainty due to the Ukraine war, this year’s holiday shopping season promises to be very challenging. Will people be in the mood to spend despite the gloom? Or will they rein in their enthusiasm and save for the year ahead?

With these issues in mind, here are five considerations to support your search engine optimization strategy this holiday shopping season:

1. Start early.

Rising prices are likely to mean shoppers will start researching their holiday spending earlier than ever to nab the best bargains. Therefore, retailers must roll out their holiday product and category pages — and launch any promotions — sooner to ensure their pages get crawled and indexed by search engines in good time.

Some e-commerce stores manage to get their pages ranking early by updating and reusing the same section of the website for holiday content and promotions, rotating between content for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine gifts, Fourth of July sales, etc. This approach can help you retain the momentum, links and authority you build up with Google and get your holiday pages visible and ranking quickly.

2. Make research an even bigger priority.

With all the uncertainty this year, it’s vital to use SEO research to identify the trending seasonal keywords and search phrases in your retail vertical — and then optimize content accordingly.

With tools such as Google Trends you can extract helpful insights based on the types of searches people are making. For example, with many fashion retailers now charging for product returns, will prioritizing keywords such as “free returns” get more search traction? And with money being tighter, will consumers stick with brands they trust rather than anything new — meaning brand searches might be higher?

3. Make greater use of Google Shopping.

To get the most out of their holiday spending, consumers are more likely to turn to online marketplaces such as Google Shopping as they make it easier to compare products, features and prices, as well as to identify the best deals both online and in nearby stores.

Therefore, take a combined approach which includes listing in Google Shopping and at the same time optimizing product detail pages on your e-commerce site to ensure they’re unique and provide more value than competitors’ pages. Be precise with product names on Google Shopping (e.g., do the names contain the words people are searching for?); ensure you provide all the must-have information Google requires; and set a price that’s not too far from the competition. 

4. Give other search sources the attention they deserve.

Earlier this year Google itself acknowledged that consumers — especially younger consumers — are starting to use TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites for search. In fact, research suggests 11 percent of product searches now start on TikTok and 15 percent on Instagram. Younger consumers in particular are more engaged by visual content, which may explain why they’re embracing visually focused social sites for search. So, as part of your search strategy, create and share content on popular social media sites that your target customers visit.

Similarly, with people starting their shopping searches on marketplaces such as Amazon.com, optimizing any listings you have on the site should be part of your strategy. And thankfully, the better optimized your product detail pages are for Amazon (with unique, useful content), the better they will rank on Google as well!

5. Hold paid budget for late opportunities.

The greater uncertainty and volatility this holiday season mean you must keep a close eye on shopper behavior and be ready to embrace opportunities that emerge later on. Getting high organic rankings for late promotions is always more challenging, so hold some paid search budget back to help drive traffic to those pages — via Google Ads, for example. Important keywords to include in late season search ad campaigns include “delivery before Christmas” and “same-day-delivery.” For locally targeted search ads, consider “pick up any time before Christmas.”

The prospect of a tough, unpredictable holiday shopping season means search teams must roll out seasonal SEO plans early, closely track shoppers’ behavior, and be ready to adapt as things change.

Marcus Pentzek is chief SEO consultant at Searchmetrics, the global provider of search data, software and consulting solutions.

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Google Home App Gets an Overhaul, Rolling Out Soon

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Google Home app

Google refreshes its Home app with a slew of new features after launching a new Nest gear. This makes it faster and easier to pair smart devices with Matter, adds customization and personalization options, an enhanced Nest camera experience, and better intercommunication between devices.

This revamped Home app utilizes Google’s Matter smart home standard – launching later this year – especially the Fast Pair functionality. On an Android phone, it will instantly recognize a Matter device and allow you to easily set it up, bypassing the current procedure that is often slow and difficult. Google is also updating its Nest speakers, displays, and routers – to control Matter devices better.

Google Home App New Features

  • Spaces: This feature allows you to control multiple devices in different rooms. Google has listed a few things by room: kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc., although it’s pretty limited right now. Spaces let you organize devices how you see fit. For instance, you can set up a baby monitor in one room and set a different room’s camera to focus on an area the baby often plays. With Spaces, you can categorize these two devices into one Space category called ‘Baby.’

Google Home app Spaces

  • Favorites: This one is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to make certain gears as a favorite that you frequently use. Doing so will bring those devices into the limelight within the Google Home app for easier access. 

Google Home app

  • Media: Google adds a new media widget at the bottom of your Home feed. This will automatically determine what media is playing in your home and provide you with the appropriate controls as and when needed. There will be song controls if you listen to music on your speakers. There will be television remote controls if you’re watching TV. 

Google probably won’t roll out this Home app makeover anytime soon. But you can try it for yourself in the coming week by enrolling in the public preview, available in select areas.

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