Google Shopping upgrade: what you need to know

Earlier this year, Google released Shopping campaigns to all advertisers in AdWords. In a nutshell, Shopping campaigns are a new way of managing Product Listing Ads on Google. They offer a simpler and more flexible way of organising your Google Merchant Centre product feed inventory within AdWords.

Prior to this announcement, we had managed these campaigns using regular Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Google will be retiring PLA campaigns at the end of August, so if you haven’t upgraded to Shopping campaigns yet – you are running out of time!

The success of product listing ads is very much dependent upon the quality of information in your product feed and how your campaign is structured, so we have put together a small checklist of important things you can action now to make sure you are fully optimised for Google Shopping.

Carven Google Shopping Campaign

1. Add in custom label attributes

The most important change to note when upgrading from PLAs to Shopping is that the ‘adwords_grouping’ and ‘adwords_labels’ attributes will not work with Shopping campaigns. Instead, you need to create custom labels in your feed to organise your products. You can have up to 5 labels, numbered 0 to 4, which include your own categorisation of products. Some ideas for these values include product category, gender, season/collection, top-sellers, high margin products and sale/promotional products.

You can then use these custom labels to structure your shopping campaigns in AdWords in a much more organised way, similar to how you would lay out your website or your store if you have one.

2. Update feed with new Google requirements

Google have just released an update to their shopping feed requirements which is likely to require some changes to your current feed. There are also some new attributes which have been released:

  • Mobile landing page – a new attribute which should be used when the URL is different on mobile devices to desktops
  • Product bundles – a new attribute which should be used if you have products sold in bundles, e.g. camera with lens
  • Availability – the value ‘available for order’ is being removed and merged with ‘in stock’, while a new ‘availability date’ attribute has been added to let shoppers know when pre-ordered products will be available for delivery
  • Clothing – new attributes including age group, size system and size type

These changes need to be implemented by 30th September, otherwise you run the risk of products being disapproved. The updated specification can be found here.

Lulu Guinness Google Shopping Campaign

3. Keep your feed fresh and accurate

Once your feed has been optimised with all of the latest specs, make sure it is kept fresh and up to date with any price or stock changes, otherwise feeds can be disapproved and ads won’t show. We have seen many instances where ads are disapproved because of mismatched data between the feed and website (around price or availability), so we usually recommend the feed is automatically updated daily and run overnight so that it doesn’t impact campaign performance.

4. Optimise bids using new metrics

Once you have optimised your feed and upgraded to Google Shopping – the fun part begins! Managing Shopping campaigns is very similar to managing Product Listing Ads, but with Shopping you have access to new metrics which will help to more effectively manage and optimise your campaigns.

The first two metrics are benchmark CTR and benchmark CPC, which show how you are doing against your competition. This is useful for setting your starting bids and then you can adjust from there depending if you are above or below the benchmark.

The third metric, and in our view the most powerful, is impression share. This metric shows a ratio of how many shoppers your ads are reaching against how many they could reach. If your impression share is less than 100% and you are generating a profitable ROI, you should consider increasing your bids and budgets to maximise impression share and drive more traffic and sales.

5. Anticipate changes in search volume

One of the most important things when running PPC campaigns is to make sure you plan ahead to maximise traffic and sales during key times of the year. Your strategy for shopping campaigns should be no different to your standard text ad campaigns, so make sure bids and budgets are increased to allow for the peaks in search volume.


Google Shopping is now one of the most important channels for online retailers. Although product listing ads worked well for our clients, since upgrading to Google Shopping we have seen even better results, with ROI up by an average 25% across all of our clients since upgrading.

With only 176 days to go until Christmas (crazy, I know!) now is the time to get your product feed in order, upgrade to Google Shopping (if you haven’t already) and start optimising using the new metrics available.

Shopping campaigns are going to be a key revenue driver for online retail this Christmas, so make sure you plan well in advance to maximise traffic from this channel. Those who do this well be laughing come January!

Top image source:

Dynamic Remarketing vs. Traditional Remarketing – what have we learnt?

Remarketing via Google AdWords has been around for a few years now. It’s a great way to get previous visitors back to your site by showing customised ads based on the section of the site they visited (and therefore showed an interest in) as they browse the web.

Dynamic remarketing is a relatively new feature in AdWords which has only been fully released for a few months now. This takes remarketing a step further by displaying your site visitors an ad with the specific product that they viewed on the site.

With traditional remarketing in AdWords, it was often almost impossible for many retailers to find the time, resource or technology to be able to create a set of image ads for every single product on the site, especially if you had thousands of different products.

The most popular approach would end up being remarketing to a broader audience, such as product category, and serving a more generic ad going through to a category landing page. Whilst this approach still resulted in a decent ROI, it is obviously not as relevant as retargeting someone with the specific product they viewed on the site and taking them through to a product page. This is where dynamic remarketing comes in!

Dynamic Remarketing: How does it work?

In order to use dynamic remarketing, you need to ensure your Google Merchant Centre account is linked to your Google AdWords account (similar to how Product Listing Ads work). You also need to add a new dynamic remarketing tag to your site which contains the following custom parameters:

  • Product ID (taken from your Merchant Centre product feed)
  • Page type (whether it is the homepage, category page, product page, basket page or purchase page)
  • Product value (value of product on page or sum of values on basket page)

Although we have found this can be tricky to setup, it is important it’s done correctly as the remarketing tag uses the custom parameters to add visitors to one of the following remarketing lists:

  • General visitors – people who visit your website but didn’t view specific products
  • Product viewers – people who viewed specific products, but didn’t add them to basket
  • Shopping cart abandoner’s – people who added products to the basket but didn’t complete the purchase
  • Past buyers – people who purchased products from you in the past

An important point to note is the lists above don’t overlap, so visitors will only be on one list at a time, depending on how close to purchase they were when they visited your site.

The remarketing tag is also used to associate the product ID with the visit. This means Google can take the relevant product image, name and price from your Google Merchant Centre account and include it in the ad based on the actual product the user viewed on the site. Simple yet clever!

Once you have verified that the code has been implemented correctly, onto the fun part, designing the ads! Most PPC experts are not the most creative folks (me included!) but using Google’s ad gallery templates, you can actually come up with a nice set of image ads. They allow you to customise the adverts using style elements such as your brand, logo and branding colours, so it is well worth spending the time on this and coming up with a few different templates to test alongside each other. Once the ads have been approved by Google, you can press the magic button!

Results so far

Whilst this is still a relatively new feature in AdWords, we have seen some very impressive results so far across a number of different clients, including:

  • Conversion rates from dynamic remarketing are 3X higher than traditional remarketing
  • ROI on dynamic remarketing is 300% higher than traditional remarketing
  • Click Through Rates on dynamic remarketing ads are 7X higher than traditional remarketing ads
  • Although the audience size is smaller, shopping cart abandoners are the most effective audience, driving a conversion rate of 12% with very impressive ROIs
  • Traffic between text and image ads is pretty even, but image ads drive 2/3 of all conversions


Dynamic remarketing is a feature that has been a long time coming in AdWords. Whilst dynamic remarketing solutions have been available via alternative providers prior to Google, they were quite expensive to run for small-to-medium sized retailers. Now it’s here, it has quickly becomes mass market for all sized retailers to use.

We are seeing some great results and would encourage all retailers to use it, especially during the festive period.

Whilst dynamic remarketing appears to yield much better returns than traditional remarketing, we still believe traditional remarketing has an important role to play in a paid search strategy. We have seen strong results when using it seasonally to support key events (i.e. sales, promotions, catalogues, product launches, new websites and so on), so do bear this in mind when mapping out your remarketing strategy for 2014.


Calculating the true value of a paid search campaign

What makes paid search so fantastic is its accountability. The fact that you can so clearly see the revenue generated by a campaign against click spend, on the face of it, makes measuring return on investment relatively straightforward for retailers.

However, in many cases, just doing a simple revenue against click spend formula will not tell you the entire story. I am going to explain how we calculate the return on investment (ROI) at Leapfrogg in order to understand the true value of a paid search campaign.

Calculating costs

When calculating the true ROI of a paid search campaign, there will always be additional costs on top of the basic media spend (i.e. clicks). This is especially true if there are third parties involved, such an agency managing the account or where advanced technology and attribution tools are being used.

Even if you are managing your account in-house, it is likely that somebody is being employed to look after it (I hope so anyway!). How long are they spending on it each week/month? These staffing costs should always be accounted for in any ROI calculations.

For retailers, there are also other costs involved which come at the point of sale, for example the cost of any discounts applied (and therefore the impact on margin) and delivery costs. If you want to calculate the real value of paid search, these need to be taken into consideration.

Another cost to factor in, which is so often ignored, is returns. If 10% of all orders are being returned this can significantly alter the profitability of a campaign.

Calculating revenue

Reporting on revenue can be more complex than you think. Most analytics tools report on revenue using the “last click wins” model, which means that the last visit to the site (and therefore traffic source) is credited with the sale.

However, in the multi-channel world that retailers now find themselves operating in, most customers are likely to visit the site on numerous occasions via a number of different channels before converting. This is where the “last click wins” model discounts any sales which involve more than one interaction with the site in the user journey.

In Google Analytics, the multi-channel funnels report will show you a breakdown of sales by “last interaction” as well as “assisted” (which involve more than one visit to the site). If you are not already familiar with these reports, I would recommend reading our blog post on multi-channel funnels.

We usually report on revenue by separating out “last click” sales and “assisted” sales, however some clients have different attribution models depending on the complexity of the user-journey. For example, assisted sales could mean only sales made on a “first click wins” rule, or could include only those sales where the user’s last interaction with the site came on a brand term or by a direct visit to the site.

This is why it is important to agree on a sensible sales attribution model before you start reporting on sales and revenue. Many different channels (i.e. search, affiliates, email, display, etc.) will all be competing for the conversion and you have to be careful you don’t end up over-reporting on sales.

To take your reporting even further, we would also recommend calculating the lifetime value of a paid search customer. How many of these new acquisitions go on to make a repeat purchase? We found that 17% of new customers from paid search went on to make a repeat purchase for one of our clients. This sort of data is valuable and could alter the price you are willing to pay for a click when you understand the true value of a new customer.

And what about offline sales? If you have tracking mechanisms in place (such as voucher codes or call tracking) to attribute in-store or telephone sales back to paid search activity, you are in serious multi-channel ROI heaven!


In summary, calculating the true value of a paid search campaign is not an easy task but by doing so you’ll be in a far better place to make much informed decisions on the development of your paid search strategy and the price you are willing to pay to acquire a new customer.

How do you report on ROI?

Microsoft/Yahoo search alliance update: the impact for advertisers

As you might be aware, Yahoo’s natural search results are now completely powered by Bing as part of their search alliance deal. From 19th March 2012, they will kick off the latest phase of their search alliance by migrating all Yahoo paid search accounts into the Microsoft adCenter platform. There will be a two week roll-out period of Yahoo traffic to the adCenter platform and the transition is expected to be complete by the end of April.

What does this mean for advertisers?

As an advertiser, this means you’ll be able to buy from a combined Yahoo and Bing audience through one platform, Microsoft adCenter. Managing both of these through one interface will save marketers much more time and hopefully lead to increased ROI for advertisers.

According to the latest Experian Hitwise stats, Google still dominates nearly 92% of the search engine UK market share, with Microsoft receiving 3.57% and Yahoo 2.53%. This means that Microsoft and Yahoo combined have a market share of over 6%, so although this is a small piece of the market, it is still not to be discounted.

Back in August last year we dropped all Yahoo paid search activity from our retail marketing campaigns because of declining Yahoo PPC results from its search partner network. However, once the transition is complete, you will be able to exclude the whole search partner network in adCenter and target Yahoo only.

For similar retailers, who advertise on Bing but not on Yahoo, this presents a great opportunity to generate a completely new source of traffic with no additional resource required. More importantly, the increase in traffic should also lead to increased sales and ROI. As a general rule, we would recommend that advertisers increase their click budgets in adCenter by 75% to cover for the increase in traffic from Yahoo.

We have been impressed with the ROI from Bing over recent months, so we are hopeful the transition will improve performance further. We will keep you updated with any results so watch this space…

An Introduction to Google Product Listing Ads

Another month, another new ad format! This month we bring you “Product Listing Ads”, Google’s latest ad innovation. Product listing ads (PLAs) are a standalone ad format that includes richer product information directly in the ad, such as images, price and merchant name.

You may have noticed PLAs across Google over the past few months. They usually appear on the right hand side of the page, as shown below:

Google started to roll PLAs out to UK advertisers towards the end of last year, and we have been testing them over the past few weeks with one of our clients.

They are great for retailers as they work in addition to standard search text ads, meaning you can take up more real estate on the results page, which should lead to higher click-through rates (CTRs). You are charged on a cost per click (CPC) basis, much like standard text ads. They are also not to be confused with product extensions, which we wrote about last month.

How do they work?

PLAs are created for your products dynamically, without the need for keywords. Without keywords you say!? How? Well, Google uses the product information in your Merchant Centre account to match a product with a user’s search, therefore it is essential your product feed is up to date and well-optimised if the ads are going to be relevant to the user.

How do I set them up?

Once you have set up and optimised your Merchant Centre product feed, you are ready to set up your PLAs. The first step of the process is to link your AdWords and Merchant Centre accounts. Login to Merchant Centre, click Settings then AdWords, and enter your AdWords customer ID.

Create a new campaign

The next step is to create a new campaign in AdWords for your PLAs. When you do this, you’ll need to tick the Product checkbox under ad extensions (as shown below). You should then be able to select your Merchant Centre account, so Google can link the two accounts together.

Create your ad groups

The beauty of PLAs is that you can automatically select which products you would like to target. For our test, our recommended strategy was to target those products which were already performing well in our paid search campaigns, have high margins and/or are competitive on price.

We then organised these products into different ad groups. Doing this will allow you to see performance data for each product and will mean you can set different bids for different products.

Target your products

Once you have organised your ad groups, you are ready to select which products are to be shown in your ads. Under the Auto targets tab in AdWords, you can target products based on five attributes from your Merchant Centre account; condition, brand, product_type, adwords_labels or adwords_grouping.
Warning: this is where it got a bit technical! As we wanted to target specific products, there wasn’t an existing attribute which fitted our needs, so we had to create a new adwords_labels attribute in our Merchant Centre product feed. We effectively tagged our products meaning we could target individual products by their title, like so:

It is important to note that the text you enter above must exactly match the values in your Merchant Centre feed, otherwise your ads will not be served. There is a Validate button where you can see if it matches, as shown above.

You need to repeat this process for all of your ad groups. Although this takes a while, it is well worth it further down the line, as you’ll be able to see performance data from each product much more quickly.

Create your ads

The final part of the process is to create your ads. Ads are created dynamically by Google based on your product feed information, however you can enter promotional text (up to 45 characters) to support your ad. Click on New ad then Product listing ad to do this.

As our client offered free shipping on all orders, we used the same promotion across all products. However, if you have promotions on specific products, this is great to highlight here.

You should now be ready to launch your campaign. Before you do, remember to include any negative keywords to prevent your ads coming up on any irrelevant searches. Your new product listing ads should soon begin running!


Although we are only a few weeks into testing, we have been very impressed with the results thus far. Compared to standard text ads, click-through rates (CTRs) are 21% higher while conversion rates are 2% higher.

Driving more traffic which is better qualified to convert is a win-win in our eyes, so get testing before your competition does! If you have any questions please feel free to enter your comments in the box below…

The retailer’s guide to using AdWords Ad Extensions

If you’re a retailer running a paid search campaign on Google AdWords, ad extensions should be your best friend.

If you’re not currently utilising them, this post will explain what they are and how they can benefit your business so you can start using them immediately.

Ad extensions allow you to provide additional information in your Google adverts, making them more relevant and useful to prospects. In the context of increasingly competitive search engine result pages (SERPs), ad extensions can really make your ads stand out from the crowd, leading to significant increases in your click-through rates (CTRs) and better qualified traffic to your website, which in turn is likely to convert at a much better rate.

All ad extension options can be found under the “Ad Extensions” tab (see below) which is located in the “Campaigns” window.

We are going to run through our favourite ad extensions along with some of our top tips and examples of how we use them at Leapfrogg:

Ad Sitelinks

Sitelinks allow you to promote specific pages of your site within your ad text. We have seen CTRs increase by as much as 20% with the introduction of sitelinks. Google allows you to have a maximum of 10 sitelinks per campaign however we have rarely seen more than 6 appear in a SERP.

Because sitelinks are so quick and easy to update, they provide retailers with a great opportunity to inform prospective customers about special promotions and sales.

Here is an example of a sitelink extension in action directing visitors to the ‘Winter Sale’ and ‘New Arrivals’ pages, for example. The upshot is that prospects have the opportunity to click directly through to the content most relevant to them. Backed by high quality landing pages this leads to reduced bounce rates, increased time spent on site and ultimately increased conversion rates.

Top tips for setting up sitelinks

  • Keep sitelinks short and sweet – this increases the number of links that can be shown within the ad
  • If you tag the URLs of each sitelink with the parameter “?sitelink=XYZ” you will be able to track the performance of all your sitelinks in Google Analytics. You can then optimise each sitelink based on clicks and conversions etc
  • As you can only have one set of sitelinks per campaign, it is worth splitting up your campaigns into different products/categories. This will not only give you greater targeting and budget control over certain products, but will allow you to create relevant sitelinks for each product, thus leading to an increase in click-through rates.

Location extensions

If you’re a multi-channel retailer with physical stores you should definitely be using location extensions. These help prospects and customers find the store nearest to them when they search for your products or services (based on their physical location or their search query).

Here is an example of a location extension in action:

To set these up, you can either manually enter your business locations, or if you have a Google Places account, you can link this up to AdWords and addresses will automatically be uploaded. You can set location extensions at campaign-level or ad-level.

Top tips for setting up location extensions

  • If you run exclusive offers in some of your stores, we would recommend setting up separate geo-targeted campaigns around these locations. You can then apply the relevant business address to each campaign so that ads show for the locations where that promotion is available
  • If you link your Google Places account, always check that all correct business locations and addresses have been uploaded. We have seen instances where incorrect addresses have appeared because the Google Places account was out of date or details have changed

Product Extensions

Product extensions work with your Google Merchant Centre account to include additional product information within your ads, for example images and prices. These act as a great way to showcase your products and highlight price before someone has clicked on your ad.

To set these up, all you need to do is link your Merchant Centre account to your AdWords account and apply the extension to the relevant campaign. If you don’t have a Merchant Centre account, set one up immediately. By submitting a regular data feed of product information to Google, you have the opportunity to feature in Google’s shopping results and increasingly, due to blended search, have product listings appearing at the very top of the main Google SERP.

Here is an example of a product extension in action:

Top tips for setting up product extensions

  • Before you set up product extensions, ensure that your product feed data in your Merchant Center account is accurate and up-to-date. Google has some optimisation guidelines for this
  • If you add specific AdWords labels, this allows you to categorise and target specific groups of products, such as your top sellers or most profitable products

Call Extensions

Call extensions allow you to include your business phone number in your text ads, making it easy for users to directly get in touch with your business.

There are different call extensions you can choose, depending on the user’s device. If you enable a Google forwarding number, a unique phone number will be shown in your ads and you are charged on a per-call basis. The unique phone number means you’ll also get more detailed reporting on your calls.

If you choose not to enable a Google forwarding number, your business phone number will not appear on desktop or laptop computers, however it will be shown on mobile devices and made clickable (see below for example). If a user clicks on this number, you’ll be charged at the same rate for a standard ad click.

Top tips for setting up call extensions

Call metrics are great for mobile and local campaigns, however for larger retailers we would recommend implementing a dedicated call tracking solution to track all traffic sources. AdInsight is our preferred partner for this

Seller Ratings

Seller ratings allow you to display your online business ratings and reviews in your ad. Users can quickly identify highly rated businesses helping them to make more informed purchase decisions. You are only charged if someone clicks on your ad, so you get more qualified traffic at no extra cost.

You don’t need to change anything in your account to set these up – they will automatically appear if you have 4 or more stars and at least 30 unique reviews within Google Product Search.  The reviews are aggregated by Google from a variety of sources across the web, including Reseller Ratings, Bizrate and

Here is an example of how the seller ratings appear in an ad:

Top tips for seller ratings

To encourage more reviews from your customers, we would recommend implementing a customer feedback/review system. Feefo is our preferred partner for this

Hopefully this has given you enough information to start using ad extensions in your campaigns. It shouldn’t take long for you to start seeing improvement in your campaigns’ CTR and conversion rates.

Don’t settle for the bog standard text ads when Google provide options for you to be far more creative. Don’t get left behind – start using them now!

Christmas is coming! Are your landing pages working hard enough?


With Christmas just round the corner, you may have noticed some changes to many retailers’ websites over recent weeks. We wanted to share some of these observations, along with some last minute quick-win changes you can make to your landing pages to improve conversion rates in the few remaining shopping days before Christmas.

Not all recommendations will apply, but it should hopefully give you some creative inspiration – if not for this year then certainly for Christmas 2012!

Without further ado, here are our observations and recommendations;

Create a buzz

Amazon offered a week of deals in the lead-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two key days in the shopping calendar. If you haven’t heard of these before, Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving in the US and has become known as the start of the Christmas shopping season. Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately following Black Friday, and over recent years has become known as the busiest day of online shopping with many retailers recording substantial increases in online sales.

Amazon created dedicated pages to create a buzz around both of these key shopping dates. The Black Friday page also drives visitors to sign up to their newsletter or follow them on social networks to be the first to know about the deals, increasing customer engagement.

The Cyber Monday page was used to promote a number of deals with many offers and discounts clearly highlighted on the page (we will come on to this a little bit more later on).

Other ideas to create a buzz include a countdown to Christmas – Whistles have created a very clever advent calendar with daily deals behind each door. They have also created a unique hashtag (#whistlesadvent) on Twitter.

Add a Christmas colour scheme

Create a Christmas-like environment by adding seasonal images and making small design changes to your site. This helps to create an appropriate seasonal atmosphere for people browsing your site. This can be implemented across the whole site, or you could create a dedicated Christmas section, similar to Next:

Highlight special offers and promotions

One of the most important things to boost conversion rates is to clearly highlight any offers and promotions, similar to Boots below. Make sure they are above-the-fold of the page so visitors can actually see them too…

Add gift/voucher card options

Remember, many people like to give others the freedom to choose what they want to buy, so make it easy for visitors to purchase gift cards or vouchers. Once the last order date for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery has passed, this is a great time to promote “digital” gift cards for those ultra, last minute shoppers (probably men!) who have left it too late. Debenhams have a dedicated section to gift cards for their range of gift card services:


So there you have it; just a few ideas to take from one or two of the major retailers. It’s not too late in the day to increase conversion rates during the busy festive period so take a few minutes out to sense check that your key pages are communicating your special offers and promotions in the most effective way possible.

Can I bid on competitors brand terms? Yes, but be careful!

In May 2008 Google AdWords lifted its ban on competitor brand term bidding. Since then it has been possible to bid on competitor brand terms without having adverts disapproved. The exact legalities of bidding on competitors brand terms has always been a grey area, but one that Google does not “police”.

Since 2008 Interflora has been in dispute with M&S for bidding on the brand term “Interflora”. The case was initially heard in the UK, but due to its complexity was handed over to The Court of Justice of the European Union.  Only in September this year was a ruling given.

The full ruling can be found here, but the overall take away from it was: yes, it is legal to bid on competitor brand terms. However you have to be very careful about how you go about it.

With this in mind, here are my top tips for bidding on competitor brand terms:

1. Make sure the ads don’t cause reputational damage to the trademark owner, i.e “competitor x tests products on animals!”

2. Your ads must not look like they are impersonating the trademark owner. If it is difficult or confusing for a searcher to differentiate between your ads and the trademark owner’s, you will get in serious trouble

3. Label your ads clearly with your brand name, and highlight the USPs of choosing your product/service over the trademark owner’s

4. Don’t mention the trademark owner in the ads at all, i.e our prices are better than trademark x

5. Consider whether there are sufficient gains to be made from bidding on a competitor’s brand term
a.  Are they currently bidding on your brand term?
b. If they begin to bid on your brand term will this be detrimental for your sales/revenue
c. Do they offer an identical product/service to you?

Looking at point 4, The PPC industry is torn on whether there is value in bidding on competitor brand terms.  You only need look at the comments at the bottom of the e-consultancy summary post on the Interflora vs. M&S ruling.

Many PPC professionals would like brand bidding to be made illegal to ensure maximum clicks to the relevant trademark owner, and lower cost per clicks on brand terms as the trademark owner would not have to “bid against” their competitor.

However, in my experience unless the competitor’s advert is promoting a huge offer, only a small percentage of brand traffic is “lost” to competitors. Furthermore we have found that it gives smaller companies an opportunity to “piggy back” on larger advertisers who may generate a high amount of brand searches after a large TV campaign, for example.This “piggy back” strategy works much better when visitors have no or little prior brand loyalty.

Bidding on competitor brand terms will not work for all companies and industries, and should be closely tested and analysed. However, in the right situation we have had great performance from competitor terms. In some cases competitor search terms have had higher conversion rates than the (overall) average campaign conversion rate.

Ultimately until the final ruling on the Interflora vs. M&S case, bidding on brand terms will continue to sit within the “grey area” of best practise PPC. However, as long as you are sensible with the advert messaging, and continue the strategy only if it makes a good business case; it can be a great additional revenue stream for your business.

Mobile search strategies for Christmas 2011


“Holidays are coming, holidays are coming…”.

Yes, that’s right Christmas is almost upon us.

UK searches for “Christmas present” have been on the increase since mid-August as this Google Insights graph demonstrates:

Research by Google indicates that 70% of consumers will use their smartphones while shopping this holiday period, comparing prices in-store, and 15% of total shopping-related searches will be carried out on a mobile device. Clearly, a mobile strategy is key not only to maximise sales this Christmas, but as an integral part of your digital marketing beyond the festive period.

Typically, consumers will be using their mobile devices for:

Last minute gifts

44% of searches will be for last minutes gifts and in-store location queries. They may have missed the delivery deadline and will therefore be looking for bricks and mortar locations to purchase presents.

To best convert this traffic we would recommend:

1. Creation of a mobile optimised site or app

2. Clear store location information on the site or app

3. Click to call pay per click (PPC) advert variations using Google AdWords

4. PPC Site links using Google AdWords featuring a “store locator” link

Best Deal finders

Savvy consumers will be looking for the best deal, comparing prices on their mobiles whilst in-store.

To best attract and convert this traffic:

1. Use “deal” messaging in ad copy to increase click through rates (CTRs)

2. Have clear price and availability information in store

3. Present clear delivery information, especially with regards to pre-Christmas delivery

4. Make clear the promotion of any price match promise guarantees

Christmas present research

Many consumers will research gifts on their mobiles and then convert via a different source (through the website or in-store). In order to be present at their research phase, you will need good mobile visibility in the search engines for products you wish to sell this Christmas.  This can easily be done via a Google AdWords campaign focused purely at mobile/tablet devices if you do not have high natural visibility.

Google research shows when consumers make purchases as a result of research made on a mobile, 76% purchase in-store, 59% purchase online and a smaller proportion buy on their phone. As only a small amount of consumers actually buy on their mobiles, it is important that you do not judge the mobile activity’s success by mobile purchases alone. Instead you should analyse the click and sales path and find mobile’s attribution to online and in-store purchases.

A recent YouGov survey commissioned by 2ergo  found that 54% of consumers who use a smartphone are happy to purchase via m-commerce, yet 76% of high street retailers still do not have a mobile site or mobile-optimised content. This is great opportunity for smaller, more nimble retailers to take the lead and gain a competitive advantage over their less flexible counterparts, starting with a mobile strategy for Christmas 2011.

Are you seeing declining results from Yahoo PPC campaigns?

For a number of months here at Leapfrogg HQ we have been seeing declining results from Yahoo paid search campaigns. Traffic quality is consistently behind that of Google & Bing and we have been seeing hundreds of poor quality domains and sites in the Ad Delivery Report.

This report (found under ‘Traffic Quality Reports’ in the ‘Reports’ tab) is said to provide visibility into:

1) Sites and domains where your ads are displayed

2) Overall performance data for the publisher sites where your ads display

The sites and domains within this report are known as Yahoo’s ‘search partners’ however if you dig deeper into this report, you may be surprised to see many poor quality and ‘spammy’, made-for-ad sites where your ads have been displayed.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to exclude the whole search partner network within Yahoo (although we have read you’ll be able to do this when the Yahoo/Microsoft adCenter transition is rolled out to the UK). However for now, you have to block individual domains within the Admin settings (up to a maximum of 500).

We recommend exporting the domains into a spreadsheet and sorting by cost so you can see those that are spending the most money. If the high cost domains are not generating a return, add them to the list of blocked domains.

Despite declining results, there is some good news – Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said in April that ‘many of our most important advertisers are realising a much higher ROI on their campaign in the combined marketplace’ and that ‘some recent third-party reports have reinforced why we did the alliance in the first place. Advertisers CTA and ROI from Yahoo! has improved dramatically.’

On that basis, let’s hope the alliance is rolled out to the UK sooner rather than later…