Richer mobile shopping experience this holiday season

Monday, November 24, 2014 | 1:25 PM

Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords blog

More than ever, people are searching on their devices at all hours and places. As a result, we’ve seen a 3.5X increase in shopping searches coming from smartphones year-on-year, and this continues to grow.1 And we’re currently sending more mobile traffic to retailers per week from Google Shopping than we did during the peak of last holiday season.2 So we're making it easier to find the information and images people need to make shopping better on mobile.

Providing richer mobile shopping experiences

Shoppers often want to see more detailed information about a product before making a purchase decision. Now, when they search for a specific product on their smartphone or tablet, we show an expandable product card with rich product content such as reviews and details for that item. For example, on a query such as the Nexus 10, results will show the image of the product along with merchants who carry this tablet, detailed information on the product, and product reviews from customers.

Product card on mobile

And for shoppers who procrastinate buying gifts until Christmas Eve (or can't wait for presents to arrive in the mail) we’re bringing the local shopping experience to more people with local inventory ads on tablet. Shoppers can now find products nearby using any device, which means that advertisers can promote their local products throughout the holiday season - even after the holiday shipping cutoffs have passed.

Local inventory ad, local storefront and related items on tablet

We're also helping to bring products to life on Google Shopping by allowing people to view images from multiple sources and explore products from any angle. Shoppers can now rotate selected products in 360 degrees to see them in more detail on mobile.

360 degree views on mobile

To ensure your products are visible to smartphone shoppers this holiday season, be sure to take advantage of Auction insights segmented by device. Evaluate how you stack up against your competition, identify missed opportunities and refine your bid modifier strategy to gain a greater share of voice on mobile. Check out our recent post on new reporting launches for more information on new insights now available in Shopping campaigns.


1Global Google Internal Data, Week of 10/25-10/31 ‘13 to ‘14. Shopping searches are defined here as queries from a smartphone that trigger a Product Listing Ad.
2 Global Google Internal Data, Week of 12/2-12/8 ‘13 compared to 11/1-11/7 ‘14. Mobile traffic is defined here as traffic from smartphones.

New ways to rev up your Shopping campaigns

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | 9:25 AM

Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords blog

Want to get more impressions and clicks for your Shopping campaigns? Or want to know how to spot missed opportunities in your bidding strategy and find your mobile share of voice? We introduced competitive landscape data last year so you can start answering those burning questions, and today, we’re excited to announce a handful of additions that’ll help you find new ways to optimize your Shopping campaigns and engage shoppers on all devices.
  • Auction insights report lets you compare your Product Listing Ad (PLA) performance to other advertisers participating in the same auctions as you are. With impression share, overlap rate and outranking share, you’re able to see trends amongst your peers and strategic opportunities to improve your bidding strategies.

  • Search impression share has been revamped to be more useful and aligned with text ads. You can now analyze your share of voice at the granularity you want with Search impression share in the Dimensions tab. You’ll know which campaigns are limited by a low budget with Lost IS (budget) and which ones need further optimization with Lost IS (rank). Note that we now calculate Search impression share at account level so you may notice a change in impression share between October and November.

  • Device and time segmentation are available to help you refine your bid modifier strategy. You can see if your peers received more mobile impressions than you over the weekend with the Auction insights report segmented by device and day.

  • Bid simulator columns show you what your advertising results could’ve been had you set different bids. You can add these columns in your Product groups tab and, for example, find product groups that’ll drive the most incremental clicks.

  • Flattened view of your product groups presents another way to analyze your performance. It allows you to sort your product groups within an ad group based on performance data and easily identify which to optimize. For example, you can sort by impression share, find a few product groups with the lowest impression share, and fine-tune those bids within a matter of clicks.

We hope these additions will help you identify easy-wins for the holidays and unlock new, more actionable ways to optimize your Shopping campaigns. We’ll continue to explore other reporting needs so you have relevant and useful data at your fingertips. Visit our help center articles for more information on Auction insights, Search impression share, bid simulator columns, and the flattened product groups view.

Posted by Dimitris Meretakis, Product Manager, Google Shopping

New Study: The Impact of Digital On In-Store Shopping

Thursday, November 13, 2014 | 8:08 AM

Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords blog

We've all heard the theories that people who do research online no longer care about the in-store experience … or don't even go to physical stores any more. Or that shoppers who use a smartphone in a store are looking to buy elsewhere.

Google decided to find out how much of this is true. We've just run a research study with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands with the goal of discovering how smartphones and online information have changed the in-store experience.

The results, as they say, may surprise you.

The full details are available at Think With Google. But here's a sneak peek at what we learned.

First, the study confirmed two things most of us have suspected:

  • Yes, today's consumers are better-informed than ever before. 
  • They crave information throughout the shopping process, and often use smartphones to get it.
But we also learned that three pieces of "common wisdom" were really more like myths:

Myth #1: Search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites.

The reality: The things people find in search results actually can send them to local stores. In fact, 3 in 4 people who said they found local information in search results helpful also said what they learned made them more likely to visit a store.

Myth #2: Once an in-store shopper starts looking at her smartphone, the store has lost her attention and her sale.

The reality: In-store smartphone moments are actually a good opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores to connect with shoppers and to help them make a decision. 46% of those shoppers say they look at the retailer's own site or app for information. Only 30% look up details from a different retailer’s web site or app.

Myth #3: With so much information available online, shoppers only go to stores to transact.

The reality: Shoppers actually want more, not less, out of their in-store experience. They want informed, customized experiences. 69% of shoppers said they gathered information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle. The catch is that 2 out of 3 shoppers said they didn't find all the info they wanted.

What does it all mean? Simply this: smartphones are a friend, not an enemy, to in-store shopping.

There are new opportunities for brands and stores to engage with customers in creative ways before, during, and after the customer’s shopping journey — one that may begin online and end up in-store. Search results, mobile ads, and mobile sites and apps can be magnets that draw consumers into stores and engage them while they're there. Smartphones and online information can also be a powerful way to create customized experiences for the consumer.

We discovered plenty of surprising insights in our study. See all the details at Think With Google. Plus, check out videos of Macy's, REI, and Sephora marketing execs sharing their approach for linking digital to store here.

Posted by Bao Lam, Product Marketing Manager, Adwords

1Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping, October 2014.

Fighting Fraud: Protecting advertisers from buying hidden ads with DoubleClick Bid Manager

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 | 12:14 PM

Cross-posted from the DoubleClick Advertiser blog

Ad fraud is a serious threat to the advertising ecosystem. It’s one we’ve been deeply committed to solving over the years, investing significantly in technology and expertise to keep bad ads and bad traffic out of our ads systems. Today we’re adding to those investments with a new feature in DoubleClick Bid Manager that automatically prevents advertisers from buying hidden ad slots, built from our technology.

What is a hidden ad?
Many in the industry are familiar with ad viewability, which is a measure of whether an ad was actually shown on a screen. The vast majority of non-viewable ad impressions are legitimate ads that are intended to be seen by a user, but were not viewed due to various ways people interact with content on the web. Products like Active View help advertisers and publishers address this by giving actionable reporting on ad viewability.

However, some bad actors deliberately hide ads to boost their ad impression numbers, resulting in advertisers paying for ads that have no chance of ever being seen. Below are some of many different methods employed by bad actors who create these “hidden” ads, one type of fraud identified in the IAB’s Anti-Fraud Principles and Proposed Taxonomy:

Bad actors often create sites and stack multiple ads in a single ad slot (like a pile of magazines), where only the top ad is visible. Or, they may adjust the styling of page content to make ads completely invisible. The typical approach, however, is to create a very small iframe to serve ads into that’s impossible for a user to see.

Even worse, some bad actors create adware that can inject hidden ads into a web page, without the publisher even realizing it:

What we’re doing
Practices like these have always been against our policies on the DoubleClick Ad Exchange. Thanks to the technology we’ve been investing in, we can detect this practice across the web. Our systems proactively blacklist suppliers of hidden ads, filtering them before they’re ever bid on, so advertisers won’t buy hidden ads.

Customers of DoubleClick Bid Manager don't have to make any changes to benefit from these new defenses against hidden ad slots. We currently blacklist 2.6% of the inventory accessed by DoubleClick Bid Manager across exchanges. However, we’ve found this percentage varies widely by provider. Below is a breakdown showing the filtered percentages across some of the largest exchanges:

It doesn’t stop here. Ad fraud is perpetrated by organized groups that constantly change tactics to defraud the industry for their own gains. That’s why we’re always researching and updating our defenses to ensure advertisers are getting the media they intend to purchase. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue refining our tools to promote a healthy, safe advertising ecosystem.

Posted by Payam Shodjai, Group Product Manager

How Local Retailers Can Use Digital to Connect With Consumers

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 | 9:00 AM

Some have claimed that the rise of digital is making in-store shopping obsolete, but new research from Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands suggests a far more nuanced relationship between the two. In fact, the data suggests that consumers’ digital behavior can help retailers increase in-store business.

Our report debunks three common myths about the impact of digital on in-store shopping. Retailers can use these insights to find ways to connect and engage with customers, utilizing technology not just to drive shoppers to the store but also to assist them once they’re there.

Myth: Once in-store consumers start looking at their smartphone, the retailer loses their attention.
Reality: Retailers can grab consumers’ attention through search results and their mobile site or app.

Our research shows that 42% of in-store shoppers search for information online while in-store. While most are using search engines, almost half of shoppers use the retailer’s own site or app.

See the full report on Think with Google for more statistics and insights to learn how retailers can reshape and optimize the in-store shopping experience with digital technology.

In-stream video tools support video ad targeting

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 8:26 AM

Cross-posted from the DoubleClick Advertiser blog

For the past week, we’ve discussed the ways that advertisers can pair smart creative with their media buying strategies, to produce successful digital campaigns. Today, we’ll talk about our fourth and final creative and media pairing around in-stream video -- advertisers should make sure they have the right video ad creative to run in their video ad placements. 

Did you know? In 2014, over a third of mobile phone users streamed or downloaded video on their mobile devices. In 2015, the percent of people watching video on their phones is expected to jump to 40%. (1)

Rather than simply reusing TV commercials for their digital campaigns, advertisers can make their video ads work better for digital by building in interactivity. Interactive in-stream video (VPAID) allows advertisers to add additional layers of information on top of their video assets. This functionality turns a linear video into an experience that resembles a micro-site -- consumers can interact and learn about the brand all within the single ad unit, without having to navigate away from the original page. 

Easy, automated in-stream video 
Our new VPAID Layout allows advertisers to take an existing video asset, upload it into the Studio Layouts tool, and create an interactive ad unit in minutes. Here’s a demo of the process:

Smart serving technology for mobile video ads
When you build ad units with video in them and then serve them to mobile devices, you have to remember that video files are large, and mobile devices have slower and often fluctuating bandwidth connectivity. DoubleClick Campaign Manager has smart serving technologies to allow you to provide the best quality video to consumers based on their available bandwidth.

DoubleClick will now transcode and segment your videos so they can be served in a file size that will load on the viewer’s mobile connection (3G, 4G or wifi). The video can even be altered on the fly, if the connection changes during playback. 

It’s important that advertisers pair smart creative with their media buying strategies. A campaign is only as good as the creative that shows up, so developing creative strategies that align with the media buy from the outset of the campaign is critical to campaign success. Advertisers that do this will benefit from more successful and engaging digital campaigns.

Posted by Becky Chappell, Product Marketing Manager, DoubleClick

(1) eMarketer Comparative Estimates, August 2014

HTML5 and in-app creative tools support mobile ad targeting

Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:47 AM

Cross-posted from the DoubleClick Advertiser blog

Last week, we talked about how creative strategies support the media buy in successful campaigns. Without ad creative that is engaging and relevant to people, a campaign will fall short of its advertising goals. Further, with consumers spending much of their time on smartphones and tablets, these engaging and relevant experiences need to work across screens. 

Our third creative and media pairing focuses on creating successful cross-screen advertising: If your media agency is including mobile inventory in the media buy, your creative agency needs to build mobile-compatible creative to be served to those placements. The best way to build those ads is in HTML5, which allows you to provide the same interactive experiences for mobile as you do on desktop.

Did you know? There are more people in HTML5-compatible environments today than in Flash-compatible environments (1) yet 84% of rich media ads are still built in Flash. (2) 

Here are four best practices for building cross-screen ads to pair with your mobile media buys:

Build in HTML5
Building mobile-compatible ads in HTML5 is getting much easier, as new tools come onto the scene to help expedite the transition from Flash. With our HTML5 and in-app layouts, advertisers can upload their existing creative assets and create multiple formats in minutes. For more custom HTML5 units, Google Web Designer provides a robust and intuitive suite of design and animation tools to allow for more creative flexibility.

Build for apps
80% of the time that people spend on their smartphones is spent within a mobile application. (3) Mobile web is very different from a mobile app, so what works on a website experience doesn’t necessarily work in a mobile application. Make sure to build ad creative that is designed for the app experience.

Use device form-factor
Desktops, smartphones and tablets all have different form-factors, or device-specific attributes and interaction modes. Smartphones and tablets have touch screens and accelerometers or motion sensors that sense movement and orientation of the device, while a laptop does not. Smartphones have much smaller screens, while tablets and desktops have larger, “lean-back” screens. Smartphones also have calling and texting capabilities. These are all opportunities for incorporating cool things about the device into your ad creative. 

For example Burberry took advantage of device form-factor in their Burberry Kisses campaign. This campaign captured the shape of someone’s lips, digitized it and put it onto a digital letter that could be emailed to a loved one. To provide the same experience on different devices, the designers had to be smart about form-factor. 

On desktop, they could use the video camera on the computer to capture a person’s lips. But smartphones and tablets don’t have a front-facing video camera that would work. Instead, the developers used the touch screen capabilities of these devices to allow people to kiss their screen. The device was able to understand the size and shape of the person’s lips via the touchscreen and digitize the image. This provided the same overarching brand experience for the user, but utilized a different way of executing it on different devices.

Use geo-location
Smartphones have the unique characteristic of travelling with us wherever we go. When a user opts to share their location information, the advertising they see has the opportunity to become more relevant to the physical world around them. Advertisers can send specific messages about their store or retail outlet to people who are traveling within a specified area around it.

By building HTML5 ads that work for apps, use device form factor, and provide geographically-relevant info, advertisers can ensure their ads reach consumers successfully on every device and environment. 

Posted by Becky Chappell, Product Marketing Manager, DoubleClick

1) StatCounter
2) Internal DoubleClick Data, Sept. 2014
3) Flurry analytics, Apr. 2013