(cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and the Inside Search Blog)

The pumpkins are carved, the spiderwebs are hanging,
Kids and their pets are door-to-door banging,
Witches on their brooms and owls on their perches,
Let’s take a look at some Halloween searches.

Halloween searches are some of our favorite trends to look at all year. Using Insights for Search and some internal data, we took a peek at which costumes and candies are on top in the United States.

This year seems to be about the battle of the birds. Searches for [angry birds costume], based on the game phenomenon that has so many of us addicted, have been steadily rising in 2011, and we’re seeing 10 times more search volume this year than last. But as of mid-October, the Angry Birds were overtaken in search by [black swan costume]. The Darren Aronofsky ballet drama seems poised to be the most popular costume idea by All Hallows Eve, with related searches for everything from [black tutu] to [black corset]. Some are even looking to be the alter ego [white swan].

Meanwhile, search data doesn’t seem to show that anyone is too anxious to be the object of the Angry Birds’ rage—at least not independently from their sworn enemies. Although [angry birds costume] is one of the top 10 fastest-rising searches related to [pig costume] over the last 90 days, another three are focused on a much sweeter piglet, the cartoon favorite Olivia.

Birds aside, this year’s fastest rising costumes in the U.S. overall are inspired by a variety of sources from pop culture over the past year, including TV shows—[pan am], [wilfred]—movies—[smurfette], [tron], [captain america]—pop music—[nicki minaj]—and more [monster high].

In fact, we may have a battle of the pop goddesses on our hands as well as a battle of the birds. During 2009 and 2010, homegrown Lady Gagas were trick-or-treating throughout the country, but while Lady Gaga still rules the music charts, she’s a far less popular costume choice this year than in 2010:

And although overall in 2011 [lady gaga costume] leads [nicki minaj costume] in search volume, right now they’re neck and neck:

We’d be lying if we weren’t hoping that at least a few Minaj fans out there choose to pay tribute to her by dressing up as uberfans eight-year-old Sophia Grace and her cousin, the two little girls who blew away YouTube viewers with their performance of “Super Bass.”

Speaking of YouTube, Halloween doesn’t fall on a Friday this year, but that’s not stopping people from dressing up as Rebecca Black:

Even if you don’t want dress up as a YouTube star, YouTube can still help you create your Halloween costume. Head on over to the YouTube Blog for video tutorials and other inspiration.

Lest you think Halloween is just for humans, take a look at the huge amount of searches for [dog costume]. In terms of get-ups actually intended for canines, ewoks and dinosaurs are the fastest-rising related searches. But two of the top five rising searches in 2011 related to [dog costume] are a little quirkier: at least a few people out there may dress up as the eponymous character from FX’s “Wilfred” show, about a dog, and a man who sees the dog as a man dressed in a dog suit. Kinda meta.

Turning from costumes to the other traditions of this holiday, searches for [haunted house] and [pumpkin patch] are both spiking right now, but there seems to be greater interest in spooky thrills than in finding that perfect pumpkin to carve. Maybe spiderwebs and peeled-grape eyeballs are a less scary proposition than running into the [great pumpkin] (from the classic movie which, incidentally, celebrates its 45th birthday this Halloween).

Everyone has a sweet tooth this time of year, but [candy corn] is remains the undisputed king of people’s cravings. In the last 30 days, search volume is nearly twice as high for [candy corn] than for other candy choices:

Per capita, Alabama is searching the most for [candy corn] this year. Here are the states that searched the most for a few other Halloween sugar staples (and some newcomer treats):
  • Candy apples - Rhode Island
  • Gummy worms - Wisconsin
  • Kosher candy - New York
  • Sugar free candy - Kentucky
  • Gluten free candy - Oregon
  • Candy bars - Utah
  • Organic candy - Colorado
When trick or treating, there’s always that one house that insists on making Halloween healthy—but luckily for us, those are few and far between. Over the last 30 days, there is almost two and a half times more search volume for [candy] than for [apples]. The classic game of bobbing for apples, however, it still going strong, spiking dependably every October.

Whether you’re dressing up as an elegant avian ballerina or a brightly-colored roly-poly bird in a slingshot, we hope you have a spootakular Halloween!

Admit it – you get caught up, at least a bit, in the rush to discover what each holiday season’s hottest gifts will be before the crowds do. Will it be UGGs, Elmo, and iPads again? Or is a little-known brand going to be the most coveted item this year?

For retailers hoping to rack up sales and for shoppers who want to pile up the must-have items, Google Insights for Search is the next best thing to a crystal ball. Today we’re giving you a head start on uncovering trends in Apparel. We’ll also be posting about other top category trends in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned.

Looking for the perfect Winter look? Maybe just the right gift? Search trends indicate that Penguin sweaters and Versace for H&M are sure to be a hit.

Or maybe there’s an athlete on your list who’s asked for cold weather workout gear. Not surprisingly, as temperatures drop, searches for warm apparel staples like [sweaters], [coats], and [jackets] are on the rise.

And for your athletes, searches around [running tights] and [waterproof jackets] are gathering steam. Insights’ top and rising searches also often call out brands that are trending above the pack.

Lean on Insights for Search to help you pick trends and winners this year, then seal the deal with Google Product Search. Search the products you want, do a little price comparing, and for instant gratification, see which local stores have your look in stock.

Happy shopping!

Posted by Benson Dastrup, The Google Retail Team

Not sure how to most effectively leverage and measure your mobile marketing campaigns? Well, you’re not alone. While mobile is an incredible new way to distribute content and reach customers on the go, it also presents a unique challenge when it comes to measuring the impact of our mobile efforts (like applications, advertisements or mobile-optimized websites).

Tune in on November 2nd for Google’s Think Mobile webinar, Mobile Advertising: Right Person, Right Time, Right Message - Finally!, led by Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist. Avinash will share tips and best practices for mobile marketing campaigns, new metrics unique to mobile, and how best to measure mobile ads and websites.

When: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 9-10:30am PST/ 12-1:30pm EST
How: Register here

(Cross-posted from the Google Commerce blog)

Neiman Marcus is known for the outrageously beautiful and unique merchandise showcased in their annual Christmas Book. Think of the most amazing gifts you can imagine -- a beautiful Chanel handbag, a Orefici watch, or perhaps your very own tailored mermaid suit or customizable cupcake car.

For this holiday season, Google Catalogs has collaborated with Neiman Marcus to offer you a free, browsable copy of this year’s Christmas Book. We’ve also created the very first historic compilation of Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts from the past ten years. It’s called the Fantasy Gifts Retrospective and you’ll only find it on the Google Catalogs app for iPad, available for free in the App Store.

To celebrate the Fantasy Gifts Retrospective, we’ve picked out our favorite gifts from the past 10 years! Sadly, gifts from prior years are no longer for sale, but we trust you'll enjoy the 2011 gifts and the walk down memory lane.

(cross posted on the Official Google Blog

Mobile search helps people find what they need in a snap.  Whether they’re choosing between two restaurants, shopping for a new watch, or buying a movie ticket, people make better decisions when they have access to more information. Search ads are information—answers—and on mobile devices, they’re able to connect people and businesses in new, useful and relevant ways.

Today, we’re unveiling new mobile search ad formats and some new details about the ways many different businesses are benefiting from mobile advertising.

Search ads, meet mobile apps
We’re bringing the worlds of search and apps together with mobile advertising in a few ways:
  • Search ads in mobile apps: Lots of mobile apps give people the ability to search for information—like an app that lets you search for a restaurant nearby.  Today we’re announcing Custom Search Ads for these apps.  These ads provide useful and relevant answers, for people searching within a mobile app.  Custom search ads will also help app developers earn more money to fund their apps and grow their businesses on mobile.
[Custom Search Ads in mobile apps]
  • Click to Download: Not surprisingly, many people use Google to search for information about mobile apps. This ad format helps consumers right when they searching for information about an app, linking them directly to the App Store or Android Marketplace to download.  We’ve recently enabled app developers to include app icons and information about the app in their ad unit so that people can make more informed decisions about whether they want to download the app.
  • Mobile App Extensions: This new, beta ad unit enables businesses to use mobile search ads to direct someone to a page within a mobile app already installed on their phone.  For example, if someone searches for sneakers on a mobile device, they might see an ad that takes them directly into a cool shopping app they’ve installed on their phone.

Local search ads—so hot right now
Building local context into mobile ads makes them more useful both for both consumers and businesses. Here are a few specific examples:
  • Click to Call: We introduced these ads for high-end smartphones less than two years ago and now they are now driving millions of calls per week to hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world.  Click to call ads have been very effective in generating leads for businesses of all sizes, across many verticals—more people can call an Enterprise Rent-A-Car near them for rentals and more potential customers can connect with ADT Security for alarm system expertise, for example.
  • Hyperlocal search ads: Launched a year ago, these search ads contain useful local information like phone numbers, driving directions, a number to click and call a business directly, and also show people how far they are from specific business locations. Roy’s Restaurants’ efforts with this format led to a 40 percent increase in call volume—and lots more full tables!
  • Proximity as a factor in mobile search ads ranking: The distance between a person and an advertiser’s business location is now a factor in mobile search ads ranking. This means an ad for a business with a physical location close to to a consumer may perform better in AdWords—driving more mobile traffic at a lower cost. The feature will be effective only when consumers opt in to share their device location for mobile searches.  It will make our hyperlocal format more useful for businesses and users—advertisers can get started with this by creating Location Extensions for their mobile campaigns. Particularly this holiday season, when consumers are using their mobile phones to find a nearby store for last minute gift purchases, this new feature will help connect customers with storefronts.
  • Circulars: We began testing this new ad format with Best Buy and Macy’s earlier this month.  When someone clicks on a search or display ad (on desktop, mobile or tablet devices), they may see these engaging ads which contain photos of relevant products and special offers. With a few simple clicks, people who are at their desk can email that circular to their mobile phones, and later walk into their local store, flash their phone and redeem the offers.
[Macy’s Circular Ads on Mobile]

The exciting thing for mobile users and businesses is that we’re genuinely just getting started.  The possibilities for mobile search advertising are nearly endless and we’re looking forward to helping businesses and consumers alike take advantage of this brave new (mobile) world.

Posted by Surojit Chatterjee, Senior Product Manager, Mobile Ads

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and the Google Mobile Blog)

We’re hearing from people at check-out counters throughout the country that paying with your phone is a little like magic. Just look at the ecstatic reaction on the faces of our friends who made their first Google Wallet purchases last Thursday.

Today, our partners American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, OfficeMax and Toys“R”Us are rolling out an even better Google Wallet experience. For the first time ever in the U.S., at these select stores, you can not only pay but also redeem coupons and/or earn rewards points—all with a single tap of your phone. This is what we call the Google Wallet SingleTap experience.

With Google Wallet in hand, you can walk into a Jamba Juice, American Eagle Outfitters or any other partner store. Once you’ve ordered that Razzmatazz smoothie or found the right color Slim Jean, head straight to the cashier and tap your phone to pay and save—that’s it. You don’t have to shuffle around to find the right coupon to scan or rewards card to stamp because it all happens in the blink of an eye.

The Offers tab in Google Wallet has been updated to include a new "Featured Offers" section with discounts that are exclusive to Google Wallet. Today, these include 15% off at American Eagle Outfitters, 10% off at The Container Store, 15% off at Macy’s and an all-fruit smoothie for $2 at Jamba Juice. There are many more Google Wallet exclusive discounts to come, and you can save your favorites in Google Wallet so they’ll be automatically applied to your bill when you check out.

Organizing loyalty cards in your wallet is getting easier too. Today, Foot Locker, Guess, OfficeMax and American Eagle Outfitters are providing loyalty cards for Google Wallet so you can rack up reward points automatically as you shop. More of these are on the way.

One more thing—in response to user feedback, we’ve improved transaction details for the Google Prepaid Card with real-time transaction information including merchant name, location, dollar value and time of each transaction. Here’s what it looks like:

Finally, a special thanks to Chevron, D’Agostino, Faber News Now, Gristedes Supermarkets and Pinkberry who are now also working to equip their stores to accept Google Wallet.

It’s still early days for Google Wallet, but this is an important step in expanding the ecosystem of participating merchants to make shopping faster and easier in more places. If you’re a merchant and want to work with us to make shopping easier for your customers and connect with them in new ways, please sign up on the Google Wallet site. And if you’re a shopper and want to purchase a Nexus S 4G phone from Sprint with Google Wallet, visit this page.

Posted by Spencer Spinnell, Director, Emerging Markets

(cross posted on the Official Google Blog)

Mobile usage in retail is on the rise—every year we see an increasing number of shopping queries originate from mobile phones. As mobile continues to proliferate, it’s also fundamentally changing the way people shop. Mobile and shopping are made for each other.

Knowing this, we’re sharing a secret with you: it’s not too late to get your e-commerce site ready for the mobile surge this holiday shopping season. In fact, our newest customer, Timberland, just went live with their mobile-optimized website powered by Google Commerce Search in a matter of days.

Chris Hardisty, director of Timberland Global E-Commerce, told us: “Our first priority in developing our mobile website was making sure customers had the best experience possible. Shoppers today expect fast and relevant results especially on mobile, where speed and interactivity matter most. Since we launched our mobile-optimized website, we have seen mobile sales grow 20 times faster than our desktop site sales.”

Today we’re growing the Google Commerce Search family by opening up our new Google Commerce Search Reseller Program, and welcoming Branding Brand and Perficient as our inaugural resellers. We wanted to make it easier for retailers to adopt Google Commerce Search to help them achieve amazing results and meet their customers’ needs. Through this new program, resellers can work with us to bring the unique capabilities of Google Commerce Search to their retail clients.

Branding Brand has worked with Timberland and—earlier this year—GNC to turn their mobile visions into reality. Before GNC optimized their mobile website, 10 to 15 percent of their e-commerce traffic came from mobile. Since launching it this summer, there are twice as many visitors using search, and mobile search conversions are up 50 percent.

If you decide that building a mobile application is the best choice for you, it’s still important to build a powerful search experience that will help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for and engage with your brand. In August, Westfield launched a mobile shopping app powered by Google Commerce Search for its 55 malls throughout the U.S. Alan Cohen, Executive Vice President, Management and Marketing for Westfield, told us “Whether the shopper is looking for a very specific product or general holiday gift items, the ability to search retailer products effortlessly is of real benefit.”

Ready to get started with your mobile commerce site? With the big holiday shopping season coming soon, we wanted to share some tips based on our relationships with our merchant customers:
  • Every millisecond counts: You can’t deliver an amazing mobile shopping experience to your customers by wasting their time. Shoppers should be able to find the products without unnecessary clicks, typing or other steps.
  • Engage your audience: Search has become highly interactive with suggestions and auto-complete, while mobile allows consumers to touch and engage with their devices in new and fun ways. Combining the two allows you to intrigue your potential customers for instant gratification.
  • Get to the point: Whether someone’s looking for a high-resolution digital camera or orange khaki trousers, you want to make sure that it’s easy to find—with minimal keystrokes, of course. Space is limited on those 3- or 4-inch screens, so make the most of it by providing relevant search results.
  • Bridge the gap: According to our holiday retail user survey, 65 percent of high-end device users report they have used their device to find a business and then made a purchase at that business in person. In other words: mobile provides a great opportunity to drive foot traffic and bridge online and offline sales. You can delight shoppers by showing them when a product is also available in a store nearby—in-line with the search results.
We built Google Commerce Search just under two years ago to help retailers provide a great shopping experience to their customers, and we’ve had positive feedback from our retail customers on how they’ve been able to increase search revenues, site searches and online conversions while increasing customer satisfaction. Get started now with Google Commerce Search to build a great mobile experience in time for this year’s shopping season.

(cross-posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog)

Mobile advertising has created an entirely new opportunity for businesses to drive phone calls to sales teams and call centers, generating a new method for our advertisers to receive qualified incoming leads. In fact, since we introduced the click-to-call feature to advertisers over a year ago, we’ve had more than half a million customers globally run campaigns with phone extensions.

Two of the most common ways to get mobile customers to call you are either by listing your phone number on a click-to-call ad, or adding your phone number onto your website. It’s easy to measure calls from a click-to-call ad from your Campaign reports, but it can be more challenging to track the calls made by consumers clicking on the phone number on your website.

Today, we are introducing a new conversion tracking metric to help advertisers and agencies do just that: all AdWords accounts will now have the ability to report calls placed from mobile pages.

A Direct TV landing page featuring prominent ‘call’ buttons from beta partner Red Ventures

You’ll now be able to attribute clicks on your phone number or ‘call’ button back to the AdWords campaign, ad group, ad or keyword that brought a customer in. As this is a new tracking metric, there won’t be new charges or changes to CPCs. We hope that this new metric will give advertisers and agencies new, richer information on the value and returns from their mobile advertising.

Red Ventures, a customer acquisition company in Charlotte, NC, was a beta partner for this new conversion metric. In addition to their own proprietary in-house tracking platform, they used this new metric to track the use of click-to-call numbers on their mobile websites for a variety of partners. John Sutton, VP of Online Marketing at Red Ventures, said, “Now, every advertiser can get full insight into calls generated from their AdWords spend on mobile devices, directly inside the AdWords interface and at a very granular level.” Moreover, John sees this as a new added benefit to AdWords advertisers who “don’t have the capability required to produce unique keyword or ad level phone numbers on their mobile websites.”

This new metric enables all advertisers to leverage existing AdWords tools to now optimize for calls. According to John Sutton at Red Ventures, this “opens the doors to participation in AdWords features that rely on conversion metrics like Enhanced CPC and Target CPA bidding.” You can start using this new metric by installing a snippet of code on your landing pages. Upon doing so, you can set ‘calls’ as a conversion metric to track on your landing page. Next, you can pair calls focused campaigns with tools like Conversion Optimizer, then bid by setting a target CPA for calls, and ultimately automate ad serving to optimize for calls.

If driving calls is an important part of your mobile advertising strategy, and you’ve placed a phone number or ‘Call now!’ button on your site, begin measuring these calls now using this new conversion type. Moreover, in doing so you’ll be able to leverage a rich set of existing AdWords tools available to you to optimize performance. For more information on how to set this up, please see our Help Center article.

Posted by Surojit Chatterjee, Product Manager, Mobile Ads

(cross-posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog)

Good data on the smartphone user is hard to come by. Good data that enables companies to make data driven decisions on how to engage with consumers on their smartphone is even harder to come by.

Today we are launching a new resource to address that need. Our Mobile Planet is a new web site featuring an interactive tool that anyone can use to create custom charts that will deepen their understanding of the mobile consumer and support data driven decisions on their mobile strategy.

The site gives anyone access the full set of data from the “Global Mobile Research: The Smartphone User & The Mobile Marketer” we conducted earlier this year (March & July 2011) with Ipsos and in collaboration with the Mobile Marketing Association.

Example of a presentation ready chart on
Need to know the smartphone penetration in Singapore? It’s 62%. Trying to figure out if more consumers in France or Germany have made purchases via their smartphone? It’s France. Want to know if consumers in the UK visit a store after doing a local search on their smartphone? 41% of them do.

Now anyone - marketer, app developer, tech geek, big or small - can answer these questions and many more by drawing on one of the the most extensive, far reaching standardized surveys on smartphone user behavior ever conducted. Not to mention, this is the first time a study this extensive has been made available for free. 

We commissioned this survey and have made the data available for free because we believe the shift to mobile is so fundamental that we need to do everything we can to help businesses adapt immediately.

Posted by Nicole Leverich, The Google Mobile Ads Marketing Team

(cross-posted on the Google Commerce Blog)

More than 100 OfficeMax stores now accept Google Wallet, so shoppers can pay, use MaxPerks Rewards Membership cards, and soon redeem coupons all with a single tap of their phones. Google Wallet is a mobile application that lets consumer tap, pay and save at enabled retail locations. OfficeMax has enabled stores for Google Wallet throughout the greater New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. areas.

As OfficeMax’s Strategic Partner Development Manager, I’ve had the pleasure of working with OfficeMax from start to finish, culminating in Wallet’s deployment in over 100 of their stores. From the day I shared the vision of Google Wallet, it was clear that they grasped the short-term implications of a mobile payments system built on three pillars - payments, offers and loyalty - and also saw the long-term potential of a more robust ecosystem as we continue to iterate on the product.

Our merchant ecosystem is growing constantly, so visit our website for up-to-date information on locations that accept Google Wallet. You can start using Google Wallet now if you have a Sprint Nexus S 4G phone, or you can buy the phone today on the web or at your nearest Sprint store.

Posted by Robyn Katzman, Commerce Strategic Partnerships

It's no secret: the continuing rise of web commerce, combined with the rapid evolution of smartphones, gives shoppers the option to do extensive research and make decisions based on price, location or just plain preference. In fact, 2 out of 3 moms shops with a smartphone in hand! And while this offers retailers numerous opportunities to reach their customers, it also means that moving units requires more differentiation than ever to stand out from the well-researched pack.

But department stores are responding to the evolving landscape by signing exclusive deals with brand names, famous designers, and of-the-moment celebs, in the hopes that stocking unique products will give consumers an incentive to visit specific stores, while simultaneously providing retailers with a selection of merchandise safe from the info-fueled wars.

Such changes are happening fast and wide: according to the recent New York Times piece linked above, major retailers like J.C. Penney and Kohl's already see such exclusives driving up to 50% of their sales, while many other major stores are scrambling to follow suit.

The exclusives vary from entire collections focused on budget consumers, to stores that offer their own special versions of the highest-end products. For example, J. Lo and Marc Anthony just launched a line of affordable apparel and home decor exclusive to Kohl's, while Neiman Marcus is the only place you'll find this rather amazing Christian Louboutin sandal.

Such an array of exclusives offers a wide variety of choices, but often leaves consumers confused as they try to figure out where to go for which products. Sure, it's easy enough to remember that the Kardashian Collection is only available at Sears - but it's a bit harder to keep straight that the Kardashian-endorsed Skechers Shape-Ups are actually available at multiple stores. And what's the difference between Martha Stewart Living (only available at Home Depot), and the Martha Stewart Collection (only available at Macy's)?

When the ever-increasing myriad of options overwhelms consumers, they turn to the web to help sort things out - and it's imperative that stores with exclusive offerings establish an online presence around them. This includes:
  • Running specially-tailored Creatives that emphasize exclusive brand offerings
  • Investing on Search terms related to designers/celebs whose lines they carry
  • Staying alert for Display and/or Video opportunities on related content, especially for lines driven by celebrity endorsement or design (after all, if someone can't stop rocking out to "Party In The USA", it's a decent bet she'll also want to rock Miley's Fringed Suede Boots, available only at Wal-Mart...)
  • Establishing a Mobile Search campaign to reach those smartphone-using shoppers out at the mall trying to figure out which store carries which exclusive brand
  • Coordinating promotions between web and brick-and-mortar stores so that consumers can access their favorite exclusive brands from every angle, and get consistent messaging/pricing as they do so
Posted by Brian Crocker, The Google Retail Team

(Cross-posted on the Google Commerce Blog)

One of the great things about online shopping is that it offers the opportunity to find just what you’re looking for, at a terrific price. But, shoppers often tell us they’re nervous about purchasing from unfamiliar online stores. Is this store trustworthy? How reliable is their shipping? Do they have good customer service? What happens if something goes wrong?

Today we’re announcing the launch of Google Trusted Stores, a new pilot program that helps shoppers identify online merchants that offer a great shopping experience.

The Google Trusted Store badge is awarded to e-commerce sites that demonstrate a track record of on-time shipping and excellent customer service. When visiting a qualifying store, shoppers can hover over the Google Trusted Store badge and see metrics on the store’s shipping and customer service performance.


To participate in the program, merchants voluntarily share data about shipments, and Google collects customer service metrics when shoppers seek Google’s help with a problem.

When a shopper makes a purchase at a Google Trusted Store, they have the option to select free purchase protection from Google. Then, if a problem arises with their purchase, they can request Google’s help, and Google will work with the merchant and customer to address the issue. As part of this, Google offers up to $1,000 lifetime purchase protection for eligible purchases.

Starting today, you’ll begin seeing the badge at a handful of online stores, including, Wayfair,, and Beach Audio. During this pilot, you may occasionally see a different version of the badge on these sites - or no badge at all - while we perform tests to measure the impact of the program.

Over the coming months, we plan to expand the program to include more stores. If you’re an online merchant interested in participating, please fill out this form. To learn more about Google Trusted Stores, visit
Posted by Tom Fallows, Group Product Manager, Google Commerce Team