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Monthly Archives

July 2018

google

Google Revamps Local Events Search to Include Personalized Suggestions

By | Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

Google revamps local events search to include personalized suggestions

smartphone_concert

Last May, Google  launched a new events feature designed to help web searchers more easily find things to do nearby, while also challenging Facebook’s dominance in the local events space. Today, Google is updating event search with personalized event suggestions, and well as a new design that puts more event information directly in the search results.

When the feature first launched last year, Google said it was built in response to the millions of search queries the company saw daily for finding local events and activities.

However, it was also clearly an area where Google had ceded ground to Facebook. The social network said last fall that 100 million people were using Facebook Events on a daily basis, and 650 million were using it across the network. Those numbers have surely grown since.

The original design for Google’s events search offered web searchers a list of events they could filter by category and date. Meanwhile, the event listings themselves were powered by data from Eventbrite, Ticketmaster, SeatGeek, Meetup, Vividseats, Jambase, LiveNation, Burbio, Allevents.in, Bookmyshow.com, StubHub, Bandsintown, Yext and Eventful.

Now, Google is returning these event results in a new format — instead of more standard search results, they appear as cards, each with a little bookmark icon you can click on to save the event details for future reference.

In addition, when you tap on one of the event listings’ cards, you’re directed to a more information-rich page, offering the date, time, location and shortcuts to save the event, buy tickets, get directions or share it with others. The design looks even more like a Facebook event page, albeit without a discussion section for posts and comments.

Clicking on the “Get tickets” button will pop up a window that links to ticket resellers for the event in question — like Ticketmaster or StubHub, for example.

As users continue use the system, it will be trained to know what sort of events users like.

Google tells us that for users who are signed in and have history turned on, it will provide customized recommendations based on their interests. People have control over their Search history and data via My Activity.

This data will be used to power the new personalized recommendations feature, found in the bottom navigation bar’s “For You” tab, which organizes suggested events by category, like “concerts,” “festivals,” “shows,” free events and more. This page also will show you trending and popular events in the area, if you need ideas.

The feature is not currently live for everyone, but is rolling out to mobile users over the next few days, says Google.

google

amazon prime day

What Search Marketers Should Know About Amazon Prime Day

By | Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

What Search Marketers Should Know About Amazon Prime Day

amazon prime day

Prime Day is Amazon’s annual shopping “holiday” exclusive for its Prime members. The one-day event was launched in 2015 to commemorate Amazon’s 20th anniversary and created with a Christmas in July feeling, meant to drive sales on Amazon.com by offering Black Friday-sized deals and discounts to shoppers.

In the last three years, Prime Day has grown to exceed Black Friday sales on Amazon.com. With that growth, it has created a bit of a ripple effect in ecommerce sales.

So, what should you know as we enter year four of Prime Day?

Amazon Prime Day 2018: What to Expect

Prime Day 2018 Starts July 16

First off, Amazon’s marketing machine “primes” shoppers with pre-Prime Day deals, sales and a full-out media blitz of commercials, digital ads, and email blasts.

Amazon likes to build up hype and some mystery as to when Prime Day will be since it isn’t usually revealed until late June or early July.

Prime Day isn’t consistently held on a certain day of the week or an exact date. In 2015, it was July 15 (a Tuesday); in 2016 it was July 12 (a Tuesday); and in 2017 it was July 10 (a Monday).

This year, Amazon Prime Day will begin Monday, July 16 at noon PT, and feature “36 hours of deals.”

It sounds better than Black Friday – you can catch a great Lightning Deal without having to stand in line at 4 a.m. in freezing weather or risk being trampled.

More Shoppers Are Online

Prime Day also means that people are online, ready to buy and look for deals.

While last year’s Prime Day sales on Amazon shattered their own records for year over year totals (up by 60 percent), the biggest winner was actually Amazon itself, with new Prime sign-ups (with an increase in Prime membership cost this year) and Echo Dots flying out the door.

Better Deals & Selections on Shopping Categories

That doesn’t mean that marketplace sellers didn’t also see a benefit. Amazon has made vast improvements to offerings by category, avoiding more usage of the infamous 2016 and 2015 Prime Day hashtag of #primedayfail when shoppers were dismayed at finding only minuscule deals on items like toilet paper and wasted time looking at deals with $0.03 price increases.

This time, expect to see much more highly curated selections on in-demand categories like electronics, health and beauty, home goods, and toys than in previous years. (Last year, grocery was the lagging category.)

A quick note on the infamous Lightning Deals that not every paid search marketer might know:

  • There is a standard fee for every Lightning Deal that a seller applies for (i.e., you ask Amazon if you can pretty please sell that particular item) during regular weeks of the year.
  • The discount must be 20 percent or more of the original price.
  • The fee for a Lightning Deal almost doubles per deal during Prime Day week.
  • Sellers don’t submit a deal for consideration the way they do during the rest of the year, they log into their Seller Central accounts, see if they have been chosen and, if so, what items from their catalog that they can use for a Lightning Deal.
  • Sellers must also be able to meet Prime fulfillment and delivery times (i.e., Seller Fulfilled Prime or participating in a program like Fulfilled by Amazon).
  • This is in addition to category-based commission rates that range from 6-20 percent of the item price.

Now you may think to yourself, “and sellers PAY that?!” The answer is – yes. And in droves.

Paid Search Spending (Along with Conversions) Might Increase

So what does this mean for search and, specifically, Google Shopping efforts?

Well, what we saw at CommerceHub (Disclosure: I work for CommerceHub) during the first Prime Day 2015 is that campaign budgets ran through much faster than anticipated – especially for a seemingly random Tuesday in July, but specifically in the electronics, appliances, and home goods categories.

It wasn’t just spending that went up though.

We saw a directional increase in revenue and conversions as well. We ended up adjusting budgets for the month and pulling them forward for that day, but we were generally able to keep ROI where it should be.

We saw a similar effect in 2016, though more flat year over year (in terms of the amount of a spike), but still an upwards spike in comparison to “normal” July days.

For 2017, Andy Taylor of Merkle has what we think is the best analysis specific to search, noting that:

  • Overall conversions were up.
  • Average order value was flat or down, especially on mobile devices (where traffic was significantly up).
  • Search Partner network traffic being served on Amazon was significantly up. That does not seem like it will be the case again this year, as Amazon has been keeping more of that real estate for their own advertising programs and not having users leave the site.

How to Prepare for Amazon Prime Day 2018: A Checklist

Given all this, to get ready for Prime Day 2018, here’s a short checklist you’ll want to consider:

  • Know when Prime Day is: Stalk the site during the week of and during. Know what was for sale and how fast it sold out, what categories and if the discounts were “whoa!” or “ho-hum.”
  • Note the categories and groupings of products together during Prime Week: These are carefully curated to increase basket size and upsells. For example, last year the “most-shopped themes” were Pet Lovers, Gardeners, For the Home. What can you “borrow” for your own efforts on site or in ads?
  • Start watching your traffic/spend the week before: As Prime Day Week kicks off, you may see a drop off as sales pull back in anticipation of The Deal that your target market is looking for on Amazon (but should still see traffic volumes be somewhat steady, because, you know, comparison shoppers).
  • Plan for an increased need in budget on Prime Day: Pull your numbers from the last three years for the Prime Day weeks and look for trends or indicators that can help.
  • Look at what the deals are as soon as you can: See what you can match or at least where you can run a competing promo. As a Lightning Deal runs out, if a shopper still wants the item, they may be willing to give you the $3 rather than not have it at all (you’ll have to be fairly agile on this one).
  • If you have an email list or promo calendar that’s not set yet or can be adjusted, make sure to be on schedule for that week: Don’t have it be a “meh” type of offer or be silent. And make sure that the products you’re offering are in stock and POPULAR. This isn’t “get rid of stuff” week – treat it like you would Black Friday.
  • Know that your remarketing efforts may get wonky during the following weeks: And, most likely, will see increased spend and a lower ROI, since you won’t be able to tell if they bought on Amazon.com instead.
  • Focus on Post-Prime Day remarketing efforts or an increased budget push: Find categories that did not have big deals or ran out quickly. This will be a great place to focus for the rest of July.
  • Do a post-Prime Day lookback: If you are (or someone you know is) doing Sponsored Ads or Headline Search Ads on Amazon for yourself or a client during Prime Week, make sure to do this and see what you can steal for any digital channel going forward.
  • Optimize for voice search: Thanks to last year, in particular, there are now a lot more Amazon Echos out there that will be offering up Alexa-only Prime Day deals, especially on CPG products. (Probably seeking redemption for the 2015 55-pound tub of water-based lubricant and the 48-pack of Quilted Northern toilet paper #PrimeDayFail deals.)

Why should we assume that we’ll see anything this year like we did last year or in the future?

Well, Prime Day is basically becoming the American version of China’s Singles’ Day.

Unlike the holidays where we have to pretend to be shopping for others (c’mon, we know about the self-gifting trend), this is an out-and-out “Treat Yo’ Self” kind of time. They are literally giving us the excuse!

Also, Amazon is already pushing their own Fire TV, tablet, and Kindles onsite,

Major retailers like JCPenney, Kohl’s, Toys R Us (R.I.P.) and Macy’s did trot out their own “me too” deals last year. Expect similar efforts this year as well, with emphasis on benefits, like no membership required, unique brands or exclusives and customer experience, to avoid a total race to the bottom.

And you know what that means – expect to see that if you’re in competition with any major retailers for those in-demand categories, their budgets will increase and, with that, your CPC as you try and keep up.

Conclusion

The most important thing you can do?

Make sure you have a Prime Day strategy, whether that’s to jog alongside, sprint to surpass, or stay at home on the couch, just don’t forget that it’s coming.

Augmented Reality Ads

Facebook is Bringing Augmented Reality Ads to the News Feed

By | Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

Facebook is Bringing Augmented Reality Ads to the News Feed

Augmented Reality Ads

On Tuesday, Facebook announced it is bringing augmented reality ads to the Facebook news feed and expanding shopping in Instagram Stories to all companies. Facebook also announced a new Video Creation Kit for mobile video and the expansion of its Collection ad format in Instagram to all advertisers.

Ty Ahmad-Taylor, vp of product marketing at Facebook, who announced the updates at Facebook’s ‘Here for the Holidays’ event to about 200 marketing folks, said the AR ads and shopping features wouldn’t cost advertisers any extra and that they would be sold via the Facebook auction like any other ad format.

“As retailers prepare for their biggest shopping season of the year, we’re excited to introduce new products that will help them both delight and inspire shoppers, and ultimately drive sales,” he said.

For AR ads in the newsfeed, Facebook will begin testing AR ads with companies across segments this summer with the goal of adding more companies throughout the year. Wayfair, Sephora, Pottery Barn, NYX Professional Makeup, Bobbi Brown and King have signed on to participate. Michael Kors was chosen as the first company to test AR ads in the newsfeed with an ad allowing people to try on sunglasses and buy them straight from the ad.

Shopping with Instagram Stories is currently still in beta to select advertisers like Old Navy and Gap but will become open to all companies in time for the holidays.

Marketers at the event expressed enthusiasm at the updates.

Jess Jacobs, director of marketing at Wayfair, who spoke about the company’s holiday Facebook strategy on a panel at the event, said Wayfair sees AR as a core way for the company to reach customers and Facebook’s new AR ads will help drive people to the company’s own AR properties, and plans on using the new ads to promote Wayfair’s AR app in the coming weeks.

Kelsey Vanderlip, senior manager of brand and strategy at Away who also participated on the panel, said the director-to-consumer luggage company is especially interested in the expanded shopping capabilities in Instagram Stories. Away isn’t part of the original beta group and so it’s “tough not to use the shopping functions,” Vanderlip said.

The move to bring AR ads to the newsfeed didn’t surprise many marketers. At its F8 conference, Facebook announced it was bringing AR to Facebook Messenger, and the newsfeed is a natural next step. Ahmad-Taylor said the platform was inspired by the success it was seeing with the use of AR in Facebook Messenger. He pointed to how Nike used AR in Messenger to exclusively sell its new Kyrie 4s shoe and sold out in under an hour.

Facebook also pointed to the growing popularity around AR with a stat from Boston Consulting Group that estimates that nearly 80 million people in the US engage with AR on a monthly basis and expects the number to grow to 120 million by 2021.

AR ads have gained traction on rival platform Snapchat. In May, Snapchat said more than 100 advertisers were already buying its AR ads programmatically and that a Foot Locker and Jordan Brand campaign using four AR ads saw an average play time of 45 seconds and over four million impressions.

At the event, Facebook also shared its findings around mobile video, saying that one in three shoppers say video is the best medium for discovering new products. With that, Facebook introduced a Video Creation Kit, a tool to help advertisers create mobile video ads using their existing images. The feature is in testing and will roll out to all advertisers in August across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook’s Audience Network.

At the same time, Facebook is rolling out its Collection ad format within Instagram to all advertisers. The format lets people to browse additional products that are for sale while staying inside of the Instagram feed.

Highlighting Facebook Advertising versus Google AdWords

By | Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

At the end of 2014, a number of studies were released by the advertising and marketing industry showing that social media marketing and advertising was the most effective form of online paid advertising.

Overall impressions increased, click and conversion rates increased, and overall prices for successful marketing campaigns dropped, providing small and large businesses with an opportunity to build through social media advertising faster than they would have been able to through search engine marketing and paid advertising.

 

These 2014 studies posited that social media marketing and advertising budgets would increase exponentially over the next five or six years, and today we now understand that most businesses with an active online advertising presence spend close to 30% of their marketing budget on social media marketing alone.

 

Google has definitely noticed a change in the online advertising tides and have been looking for ways to respond. Google AdWords used to be the “only game in town” when it came to truly effective and widespread online advertising campaigns, but today nothing could be further from the truth. Facebook Advertising alone has carved a significant chunk of the market away from Google, and they continue to make significant inroads on an almost daily basis.

Trying to determine whether or not Facebook Advertising is more effective than advertising with Google AdWords is a bit of a tough task, however. No campaigns are created equally, no marketing efforts are exactly the same, and while both platforms provide small and large businesses with tremendous reach in tremendous leverage neither of them do so in exactly the same way.

 

Here are some inside insights to help you better understand exactly what both Facebook Advertising and Google AdWords have to offer and which of these two major online advertising platforms you should be allocating a significant portion of your online marketing funds.

 

Highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of Google AdWords

 

Right out of the gate, Google AdWords enjoys a fantastic reputation amongst large and small businesses simply because it used to be the only game in town it used to be the only way to effectively reach everyone and anyone in your market utilizing a search engine to find the products and services they were most interested in.

 

Today, they obviously aren’t the only platform that offers online advertising opportunities, but they are still one of the gold standard platforms, still have a tremendous amount of reach, and while competition has definitely begun to heat up – and has driven the cost of advertising on Google AdWords up significantly – this is still where a lot of people focus the bulk of their online advertising budget.

 

On the pros side of things, Google AdWords still offers the most detailed measuring and optimization tools available for each and every single one of the campaigns you run on the platform. The reach available through Google is much larger than the reach possible through Facebook Advertising, and the ability to generate an immediate flood of targeted traffic is really simple and straightforward when you use this platform.

 

It certainly doesn’t hurt that you maintain complete control over your daily advertising budget and the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend per click, and it’s nice to know that you are able to get an instant return on your investment so long as your marketing and advertising funnels and campaigns are well-designed. The targeting options available through the Google AdWords platform are robust, though not quite as specific or as laser targeted as those you can generate on Facebook Advertising.

 

On the flip side of things, there are some drawbacks to this platform. If your Google AdWords campaign isn’t set up correctly you can lose your shirt in a hurry, and getting your first few AdWords campaigns up and running can be a bit of a headache and hassle. You’ll only have a very limited amount of space to create your advertisement, and unless you are using other Google partner platforms – like Google Shopping and YouTube Advertising – you won’t be able to use images or videos to sell your products or your services.

 

The competition here is as cutthroat as it gets which can drive the price of lucrative market keywords and clicks right through the roof.

 

Highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of Facebook Advertising

 

While the Facebook Advertising tracking and optimization campaign tools aren’t quite as robust as the Google tools, they are still some of the best in the business. You’ll have complete control over your daily advertising budget and your maximum CPC prices, and generating an immediate flood of targeted traffic – truly laser targeted traffic – is second to none.

 

The laser targeting available through Facebook Advertising is where this platform really starts to shine. You’ll have the option to according to a variety of different factors, breaking each of your market segment lists down by the kinds of demographics that Google AdWords never makes available.

 

Facebook Advertising also happens to be about as easy to set up as it possibly gets. You won’t have to worry about any headache or hassle setting up your very first campaign, and as of right now the CPC prices on even the most competitive industries are still pretty reasonable.

 

Drawbacks definitely exist on the Facebook Advertising platform, however. For starters, this advertising platform is really only suited to consumer style products and services. The business market and true business to business sales really isn’t all that viable on Facebook (there are other social media platforms like LinkedIn that work much better), and it’s impossible to target your ads to certain times within the day or certain days within the week unless you choose to go forward with a lifetime style budget.

 

Getting the chance to use video and imagery in your Facebook advertisements is always a big bonus, however, and because Facebook Advertising offers the same kind of reach and increased simplicity of establishing campaigns it’s easy to see why so many people are making the switch to this platform.

 

Our recommendation would be to try both of them out, giving them equal budgets, and determining which one makes the most sense for your specific needs your specific campaigns, and your specific goals.

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