December of 2014 may be remembered as the first truly omni-channel holiday season: the year retailers really stretched the sales funnel to include mobile, store visits and online buying under one big connected holiday umbrella.

Let's take a break from the holiday dash to see what we can learn from companies that have been creating unified shopping experiences for consumers while ringing in bigger and better profits for themselves. We'll start with a salute to three great examples of omni-channel thinking: Macy's, Sephora and REI.

When over 15,000 people streamed into Macy's main New York City store at 6 pm this Thanksgiving Day, CEO Terry Lundgren wasn't too surprised. Omni-channel helped put those shoppers there. “So far, people are gravitating to the doorbusters," Lundgren said the next day. "There’s so much information online, so they’re doing that research and going right for those doorbusters."1

Macy's has been working for years to focus its marketing and retail teams into a group with a single vision on omni-channel conversions just like these.

"That incentive, of growing the number of omni-channel customers, is something we have shared over the last couple of years," says Jennifer Kasper, Macy's Group VP for Digital Media and Multi-cultural Marketing.

"In retail, you can't think of mobile as a threat. You have to think about it as a magnet to draw that client into your store." That quote from Bridget Dolan, Sephora's VP Interactive Media, says it all about how Sephora has been winning with omni-media.

Sephora's progressive approach is the result of watching, and actually listening to, its customers. Today the Sephora mobile app lets shoppers scan products right off the shelf and see if they're right for their look. They can also look up past purchases, in case they want that same great shade of lipstick or eye shadow again.
New research shows that 46% of shoppers who use mobile devices in-store say they turn to the retailer’s site or app for information while they shop.2 "I really can't believe how much of our traffic is now coming from mobile devices," says Bridget Dolan, "and how many of our clients are using search as the way that they figure out which products they want to buy while they're standing in-store."

The trusted outdoor retailer’s stores – especially its flagship locations -- are paradise for anyone who plays outside. The company, REI, now uses digital as a way to pull customers right into that local store experience. After researching online, REI customers come into the store to try on those hiking boots or skis and then make the purchase.

Google/Ispos/Sterling research shows 69% of shoppers say they gather information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle.3 "One of the things we know definitively is that all of our digital tools really connect our members to our stores," says Annie Zipfel, SVP of Marketing for REI. "So they're often researching product online… and ultimately they're coming in the store to make that purchase."

What can we take away from these three examples of omni-channel success?

  1. Care less about where. All three of these retailers are focused on using all channels to drive sales — wherever those sales might happen. As Jennifer Kasper of Macy's puts it, "The bottom line is, we're indifferent to whether [a shopper] converts in the store or online. We just want her to shop with Macy's." 
  2. Make mobile a magnet. The best omni-channel retailers make mobile a part of their in-store experience, inviting shoppers to use their hand-held devices as they browse. As Bridget Dolan of Sephora says, "We really welcome our clients to take out their phones in our store. A client that really knows exactly what she's buying, all the reviews, all her options... is actually a happier client and will come back and shop with you more often."
  3. Bring down internal barriers. Annie Zipfel of REI says, "It is a smaller and smaller group that shops only in the store, or only online." If you still keep separate online and offline marketing teams, it may be time to think about bringing them, and their incentives, together so they can speak to customers in the way those customers shop now. 
Happy omnidays, retailers!

Visit the Local Retail Playbook to see our new “Digital Impact On In-Store Shopping” research about how consumers are shopping on and offline, and how retailers are responding this holiday season.

Posted by Julie Krueger, Retail Industry Director

1. "CEOs of Target, Macy's, and Others Weigh In on Black Friday Sales.", November 28, 2014.
2. "Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping." Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, October 2014.
3. ibid.

With more and more retailers offering holiday deals earlier in the season, the excitement about Black Friday is no longer confined to a single day. Now it’s more like a month-long event. As a result, one in five shoppers plan to head to stores on Thanksgiving Day to capitalize on Black Friday deals.1

To get a read on the trends heading into Black Friday, we took the temperature of holiday shopping online. We looked at search trends on Google, insights from Google Consumer Surveys and top trending purchases on our same-day delivery service, Google Express.

Mobile shoppers are out in force
As smartphone shoppers hunt for deals during snackable moments throughout their day, this holiday season will likely be the most mobile ever. Shopping searches on Google coming from smartphones have increased 3.5x year over year and continue to grow.2 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.3

The smartphone has become the most powerful shopping assistant while consumers are out and about, helping us read customer reviews, watch product demos and find other retailers with product in stock nearby. So it’s no surprise that the top spending days in 2013 for in-store sales are also the days we saw the biggest spikes in shopping searches on mobile devices.4

This coming weekend, expect to see many of your fellow shoppers checking for deals on their smartphone while braving the lines and crowds at the mall. Nearly 50% of 25–34- year-olds use their phone to shop online while standing in line at a store.5 To help these shoppers research products more easily this holiday weekend, we rolled out new mobile features to Google Shopping such as 360-degree imagery and more detailed product information.

Top trending gifts of the season

To get a sense of the hottest gifts likely to sell out this season, we used Google Trends to identify the top trending toys, devices and apparel searches on Google Shopping.
  • Game consoles and tablets continue to be the top gifts trending on Google Shopping, but wearable technology such as the “fitbit” is also on the rise this month. 
  • Certain retro toys are making a comeback this season. Thanks to the new movie “Ouija,” searches for “Ouija boards” are up 300% since October. And queries for “Barbie Dream House” and “My Little Pony” are up as well compared to last month. 6
  • Cold-weather staples, such as “Hunter boots” and “Canada Goose jackets,” are among the most popular apparel searches, up 46% and 140%, respectively, since October. But “jogger pants” are the newcomer gift this season, up 39% from October. 7

Hunting for deals online

Shoppers are already prepping for Black Friday shopping by researching purchases and deals online. We found that 27% of shoppers have already begun hunting for Black Friday deals online.8

The top questions people are asking about Black Friday on Google Search are:
  • What time do stores open on Black Friday
  • What time does Black Friday start
  • When does Black Friday end
  • What to buy on Black Friday
Source: Google data, November 2014.

Beating the holiday rush with same-day delivery
We wanted to take the pulse of the people making purchases this weekend as they prepare for the Thanksgiving festivities. Here’s an overview of the top trending purchases on Google Express across locations.9

San Francisco: No gingerbread cookies here. San Franciscans are seeking a nutritious holiday with lots of bananas, avocado, coconut water and quinoa. And talk about eating clean: Disinfecting wipes are also among top shoppers’ searches.
  • West LA: The City of Angels is ready to party. Disposable silverware, plastic cups, paper plates, tortilla chips and garbage bags are all they need for hassle-free entertaining. 
  • Manhattan: New Yorkers start off the day right with cereal, almond milk and—why not?—butter croissants. After a long day, residents relax with snacks such as mini pretzels and almonds. 
  • Boston: Bring your appetite to Boston parties. Salty treats such as maple bacon chips, green pea crisps and peanuts top shopping lists. The city also buys more ketchup and popcorn than any other city. 
  • Chicago: Baby boom. Chicago households are stocking up for tots this winter with lots of baby wipes and goodies such as chocolate and sparkling juice. To ward off sniffles, Chicago is loading up on vitamin C and orange juice!
  • Washington, D.C.: The capital is stocking up on healthy bites such as whole wheat crackers, fruit snacks and diet soda to wash it down. 
To learn more about digital trends and how they’re affecting holiday shopping, visit ThinkwithGoogle.

Posted by Jenny Fernandez, Analytical Insights Marketing, Google

1 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
2 Google Data, November 2014.
3 Global Google Shopping Data, Week of 12/2-12/8 ‘13 compared to 11/1-11/7 ‘14.
4 MasterCard, SpendingPulse report, 2013 and Google Search data, November–December 2013.
5 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
6 Google Trends, November 2014.
7 Google Trends, November 2014.
8 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
9 Google Express data, last 90 days (only delivered orders counted).

(cross-posted on the Google Analytics Blog)

"Enhanced Ecommerce in Google Analytics made it extremely easy to analyze the metrics that are important to an ecommerce site and garner the insights to make smart changes to our website, driving significant improvements in performance!"
-- Danny Gavin, VP and Director of Marketing at Brian Gavin Diamonds

Our Enhanced Ecommerce features in Google Analytics are officially out of beta today, complete with brand new tools like Product Attribution. Combined with our new Shopping Campaigns report, Google Analytics provides our retail clients with an integrated view of their customers. As part of today’s announcements, we’re also excited to highlight partnerships with Shopify, PrestaShop, Blue Acorn for Magento, and mShopper. Using Enhanced Ecommerce in conjunction with our partners’ products simplifies the implementation process and gives you a full set of tools to create and optimize your ecommerce site. Please see the end of this post for more information about our partners’ solutions.

Understand customer behavior
Enhanced Ecommerce provides insight into the customer’s path to purchase, like when customers added items to cart, started the checkout process, and completed a purchase. Importantly, Enhanced Ecommerce gives you the ability to identify segments of customers who are falling out of the shopping funnel. You can then focus on these high intent-to-purchase customers with remarketing or by optimizing your checkout flow. Brian Gavin Diamonds, a Texas-based jewelry design house that is renowned for its signature hearts and arrows diamonds and custom jewelry design, used Enhanced Ecommerce to discover that in a single month they had missed out on more than half a million dollars in sales due to cart abandonment at the customer login page.  The company worked quickly to optimize their checkout flow with guest checkout functionality and immediately realized a 60% increase in customers completing the checkout process to payment.  You can read more about Brian Gavin Diamonds’ success with Enhanced Ecommerce in our case study.

Optimize online merchandising to increase sales 
Once you’ve gotten users to your site, Enhanced Ecommerce allows you to optimize the onsite experience to drive sales. By using Product Lists, you can identify how customers are discovering and interacting with products before purchasing them. Armed with this information, you can analyze your onsite promotions in order to build a more effective merchandising strategy, or use the product attribution functionality to understand which product lists drive conversions.

In an increasingly mobile world, this information is critically important since screen real estate is limited and must be used wisely. For retailers with mobile apps, the Google Analytics SDK fully supports Enhanced Ecommerce, so you can do rich analysis of product performance and customer behavior across all sales channels.  Across both desktop and mobile, Enhanced Ecommerce delivers the information you need to increase sales on your site.

Drive revenue with Shopping Campaign reports
Today, we’re also introducing a new Shopping Campaigns report as part of the AdWords reporting section in Google Analytics.  This feature will be rolled out over the next few weeks and will allow you to analyze the performance of your shopping campaigns.  With this functionality, you’ll have the ability to understand the product categories/types that are driving site engagement and revenue and use this information to optimize your bids.  So, how can you get started?  If you have already linked your Adwords and your Google Analytics accounts, this report will automatically appear in the Adwords reporting section of your Analytics account.  Not linked yet?  Simply follow these instructions to link the two accounts.

Get Enhanced Ecommerce with our partner integrations
Shopify, PrestaShop, Blue Acorn for Magento, and mShopper have partnered with us to integrate Enhanced Ecommerce as part of their ecommerce solutions. If you’re using one of these platforms, you can take advantage of Enhanced Ecommerce by enabling one of these pre-built integrations.  Shopify’s solution is available today while solutions for Prestashop, Blue Acorn, and mShopper will be available in the coming week. To learn more about our featured partners, please visit our partner page

Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce is built to help you understand your customers and optimize your sales conversions. Combined with Shopping Campaign reports, Google Analytics is a complete solution for ecommerce businesses.  For more information about how to implement this feature in your Google Analytics account, please see the documentation available in our help center.

More about our partners

Shopify is a commerce platform that allows anyone to easily sell online, at their retail location, and everywhere in between. Shopify offers a professional online storefront, a payment solution to accept credit cards, a point of sale system to power retail sales and a card reader to process credit card transactions through a mobile phone. Shopify currently powers over 120,000 retailers in 150 different countries, including: Tesla Motors, Gatorade, Google, Wikipedia, LA Lakers, CrossFit, and many more. 

PrestaShop is a world industry leader in Open Source solutions for ecommerce, whose mission is to challenge ecommerce limits by developing a powerful solution that is accessible to anyone, anywhere. Through the Open Source software, PrestaShop allows everyone to create online stores quickly, easily and for free. The company currently counts more than 200,000 online stores worldwide, 700,000 community members and over 4 million software downloads.

Blue Acorn is a premium eCommerce agency dedicated to helping retailers and brands achieve revenue growth through a comprehensive, data-driven approach. In order to best support this approach, they became the first Magento Solution Partner in the world to also hold certified partnerships with Google and Optimizely. By integrating data and testing throughout their services, they are able to help their clients make the best decisions possible and further support their best-in-class design, development, and optimization capabilities.

mShopper is a leading mobile commerce platform that allows retailers to create custom, mobile-optimized e-commerce sites designed specifically to increase sales on mobile devices. The integration with Enhanced Ecommerce will provide a dramatic impact on mobile commerce conversions for retailers by delivering superior insight on product sales and overall campaign performance. mShopper recently launched mStore® v4.1 with marketing tools and a performance dashboard to drive conversions and improve sales for customers using mobile devices as well.

Posted by Marcia Jung, Product Manager, on behalf of the Google Analytics team

Conventional wisdom suggests that the rise of digital is making local retailers obsolete. But the reality is much different—technology actually presents new opportunities to help savvy retailers connect with consumers, drive them to the store and increase sales.

To better understand the impact of smartphones and online information on in-store shopping, Google partnered with Ipsos Media CT and Sterling Brands to conduct an online survey. With this new research, we were able to uncover the real relationship between digital and local retail, as well as debunk three common retail myths.

Myth: Search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites.
The Reality: Search results are a powerful way to drive consumers to stores.

Many retailers believe that when shoppers look for products online, they limit their research strictly to e-commerce websites. In reality, three out of four shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores. When information about store location, hours and product availability is clearly communicated in a local search ad, shoppers are actually inspired to make the in-store purchase.

Head to Think With Google to learn more retail myths and uncover the realities about technology’s impact on local shopping.

(Cross-posted from the Google Analytics Blog)

Plan ahead.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the holiday rush begin earlier and earlier. And we’ve also noticed that the shopping frenzy is extending beyond the traditional season, with transaction rates in 2013 boasting lifts even after Christmas. These trends make for a lot of opportunity for online retailers, but you need to play your cards right. The most important thing you can do to ensure seasonal success is to plan your digital strategy now.  We’ve analyzed transaction behavior from a portion of our Google Analytics accounts over the 2013 holiday season to develop a guide for seasonal success. 

Which days drive the most transactions?
In order to develop a successful holiday retail strategy, it’s important to first understand the days that drive the most sales for your business. Once you understand this, you can craft a strategy that optimizes your media and promotion not only for these days, but for the entire holiday season.

As digital retailers are well aware, Cyber Monday is THE digital shopping day of the year.  It generates the most transactions of any single day and, in 2013, saw a transaction rate lift of 170% over average.  In second place is Black Friday, a day that has increased in digital importance over the last three years. By 2013, the transaction rate on Black Friday was 114% higher than average.  Beyond these two stars, the table below shows you the top days in 2013 by transaction volume and the lift in transactions rates on each day.

In general, beyond Cyber Monday and Black Friday, the Mondays and Tuesdays before Christmas in December tend to generate the highest volume of transactions.  Interestingly, the highest transaction days are not correlated to the days with the most sessions (traffic to your site), so avoid using the top session days as a proxy for the top transaction days.

How can I drive sales on the top transaction days?
The holiday season generates some of the highest transaction rate spikes and the lowest dips for the entire year. In order to drive digital sales successfully, it’s important that you adjust your bids for auction-based media, such as search ads, appropriately to account for higher transaction rates on key dates and throughout the season.  As you navigate the holiday season, use the lift in transaction rates over the average transaction rate as your bid multiplier for auction-based media (learn more about bid adjustments). This adjustment schedule reflects the increased value of clicks that are more likely to convert, and helps ensure that you stay ahead of competitors and  get in front of the right consumers. The transaction rate lift for the top days are shown in the table above, while the chart below gives you an idea of the lift for the weeks surrounding the holiday season.

As you can see, the top days generate some of the biggest transaction rate lifts, but there’s also plenty of upside in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving as well as right before Christmas.  A smart retailer will generate a bid schedule for the entire season, starting 4-5 weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Marketing to consumers is notoriously tricky and often trend-driven, making the holiday season a difficult and uncertain time for retailers. However, with proper pre-season preparation, digital retailers can set themselves up for seasonal success in 2014.  If you’re a Google Analytics user, you can tailor this analysis and approach to your business, using your own data and the data available in our benchmarking tool.  For more strategies for the holiday season, check out our holiday tips blog post and best practices checklist.

About the Data
In order to perform this analysis,we looked at billions of sessions across millions of Google Analytics accounts. We used session and transaction trends; and we looked at the percentage of sessions that included a transaction to calculate transaction rates. The data includes only accounts that have authorized Google to share website data in an anonymous way (read more). For questions, comments, or praise please contact us at 

Posted by Daniel Waisberg and Jocelyn Whittenburg from the Google Analytics team.

Are you an Elsa, Olaf or Anna? Judging by the top trending searches for Halloween costumes on Google, you’re going to see a lot of each on the streets this October 31. The characters from Disney’s animated blockbuster make up three of the top five trending costumes this year.

While last year’s list featured popular choices from TV (Breaking Bad) and the viral video “What Does The Fox Say,” movie-themed costumes are dominating this year. Maleficent and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes round out the top five. Costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and The Avengers take places 6 through 8, while video-game Assassin's Creed and pet costume were the only non-movie themed costumes trend to make the Top 10.

With more than half of their traffic coming from Google, online retailer anticipated the surge in interest around these top costumes and tailored their Google Search advertising to ensure that they’re connecting with consumers as they’re looking for this season’s popular costumes.

“We watch the trends with a keen eye, especially around this time of year,” said Jennifer Dominiquini, chief marketing officer for BuySeasons, Inc., parent company to “It is important to us to leverage the trends and ensure those searching for them are finding our brand in their search.”

Trick or Doggy Treat? 

It’s no surprise that canine companions frequently join the family as they take to the streets, going door to door, but more and more people are looking to incorporate their dogs into the Halloween spirit. Searches for dog costumes are trending nearly 15% higher than last year, and one pet even costume managed to crack the Top Ten trending costumes. At number 9 on this is ‘spider dog’, no doubt inspired by the viral video sensation ‘Mutant Giant Spider Dog’, which has generated more than 99 million views on YouTube since the beginning of September. has been seeing a surge in interest around pet costumes this season, with people also looking for ways to incorpoate their animal friends into themed costumes for the whole family.

Halloween, The DIY Way 

Halloween is one of those holidays filled with the do-it-yourself spirit, particularly if the DIY costume and general Halloween trends on Google Search are any indication:

But nowhere is the the DIY Halloween spirit more alive than on YouTube. Last year, nearly one out of three Halloween costume searches on YouTube were for DIY costumes. Searches for DIY costumes on YouTube grew more than 200% in 2013 compared to the previous year.

One DIY area on YouTube that sees a significant seasonal spike every year for Halloween is in makeup. Searches for makeup on YouTube hits a high each October as millions of people search for Halloween inspiration and tips.

Whether you’re looking to show off your inner Elsa, are searching for the best outfit for Fido, or are looking to wow your friends with your DIY prowess, there are tricks and treats available for everyone this Halloween.

Posted by Danielle Bowers, Data & Trends Manager

(Cross-posted from the Google Commerce Blog)

This holiday shopping season will be our most connected ever, with devices at our fingertips helping us hunt for deals in short moments—whether it’s on a laptop at work or on a smartphone right before bed. In fact, one third of all shopping searches on Google happen between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.1 That’s because shopping doesn’t stop once the mall closes. Today’s shopper spends more time than ever researching purchases online at all hours of the day; we’ve gone from midnight snacking to midnight shopping.

To understand how digital trends will impact this year’s shopping season, we conducted our annual Holiday Shopper Intentions research with Ipsos MediaCT, surveying consumers on their shopping behavior. We found that people are shopping earlier, using online video to help with research, and turning to smartphones as personal shopping assistants.

Black Friday is becoming a month-long event
People are starting their research early and retailers are stretching Black Friday promotions across November, changing the focus from just one day to a month-long event. More than half of consumers surveyed said they’ll start their research before Thanksgiving, with 26% of shoppers having started before Halloween.2

Shoppers are also spending more time consulting more sources before making a decision. In 2010, shoppers used five sources of information on average before purchasing, but that has more than doubled with shoppers consulting at least 12 sources last year.3 This means that October through November has become a crucial period for retailers to reach shoppers online, being present with offers, information, how-tos and content.

Online shopping is the new window shopping
Shoppers are going online for inspiration at all points of their day, not just to research specific products but to see what their friends and favorite influencers are wearing. Sites like YouTube and Pinterest have become the new window displays, and a new generation of fashion influencers like Bethany Mota are influencing shopping decisions.

Shopping-related content on YouTube, from unboxing videos to product reviews, is becoming an important part of the holiday research process and is trending up year over year. Haul videos—or the YouTube equivalent of telling your best friend about your latest shopping purchases—spike during key shopping events and hit their peak during Black Friday weekend. Videos with "haul" in the title have have been watched more than 1.1B times on YouTube, and views are up 1.7x this year compared to last year.4

And shoppers aren’t just using YouTube for research ahead of time, they’re also looking up videos while they’re in stores to help them make decisions. One in four shoppers say they've used YouTube to search for a video related to a product they're considering while in a store.5

Your phone: The ultimate shopping assistant
One of the biggest enablers for shopping throughout the day is our mobile devices. Our research found that 75% of smartphone shoppers plan to use their phones in-store this holiday season.6 It used to be that shoppers came to the store with little knowledge, and the sales associate educated them on products. Now shoppers are coming into stores teeming with information, and are turning to their phones as personal shopping assistants. One in three shoppers use their smartphones to find info instead of asking store employees.7

We’ve found that when retailers understand mobile behavior in stores, they can meet shoppers online with helpful information. In fact, 46% of shoppers who use their phone in a store still end up making a purchase, an 11 point increase from 2011.8 Consumers are coming into stores more purposeful and informed than before, and savvy retailers are turning this into an opportunity.

Want to know more about the 2014 holiday shopper? Check out more research and case studies at Think with Google.

Posted by Beth Thomas, Industry Development Manager, Google

1 Google Shopping search data, July - September 2014
2 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
3 Google and Inmar, 2013
4 Google data, January 2013 - September 2014, Indexed views on YouTube
5 Google Consumer Survey, September 2014
6 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
7 Google Mobile In-Stores study May 2013
8 Google Nielsen, November 2013

(Cross-posted from the Google Inside AdWords Blog)

With October kicking off this week, the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. According to our recent research, 29% of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping before Halloween. With this in mind, we’ve put together a Holiday Shopping Checklist filled with the season’s best practices for retailers to maximize performance across both Search and Shopping campaigns. In addition to our checklist, here are the top holiday trends from last year and tips from the Google Shopping team on how to make this Q4 a good one.

Address increased shopping demand today. Last holiday season, traffic sent to merchants from Google Shopping doubled year-on-year.1 This momentum has continued and in July we saw traffic sent to merchants surpass last year’s peak holiday traffic from Google Shopping.2 Not only has consumer interest increased, but it is also beginning earlier. Our research shows last year consumer interest in Black Friday was up 27% from 2012 and related searches started about a week earlier than the prior year. Get the most out of this high volume shopping period by establishing your marketing goals early and using our checklist to help achieve them.

Connect with mobile shoppers. The best way to connect with your customers is to be there whenever and wherever they are looking for your products, and increasingly this is on mobile. Mobile devices drove 35% of all traffic to retail sites in the US last holiday season, and this is expected to increase to 43% by November 2014.3 Globally, Google Shopping sent over 3X more traffic to merchants on smartphones in holiday 2013 year-on-year.1 Make sure you plan for a significant proportion of your shoppers to be mobile this season.

Provide fresh and accurate information to customers. Pricing and shipping are two of the most important factors for shoppers when making a purchase online.4 Update and resubmit product feeds regularly to ensure that customers see consistent pricing and inventory information across your Product Listing Ads and website. Improve the customer experience by using automatic item updates to update your items on Google Shopping based on the data we find on your website. If you offer free shipping, include messaging in your text ads or use the new Merchant Center shipping configuration tool to reflect this in your Product Listing Ads.
New shipping configuration tool in Merchant Center
Differentiate from the competition. With strong competition during the holidays, promotions are a key driver in determining consumer purchasing decisions. This was evident last year, as 92% of all shoppers took advantage of some type of promotion.5 Consider how you can differentiate your messaging by highlighting a strong promotional offer or unique value proposition. Make your Product Listing Ads stand out by using merchant promotions and provide an additional stamp of credibility for your business by becoming a Google Trusted Store. Provide additional value for shoppers by displaying product ratings on your PLAs. According to Diana Ruka, Senior Director of eCommerce at COACH, product ratings have provided “added value beyond price points or descriptions - they convey a message without need for words- they provide distinction.
Example of merchant promotions, product ratings and the Google Trusted Stores badge displayed on Product Listing Ads
For more holiday tips and best practices, check out our Holiday Shopping Checklist or join us for our Learn With Google Hangout on Air on October 30 at 10:00am PST for more holiday optimization tips.

Posted by Shelby Coyne, Product Marketing Manager, Google Shopping

1Google Internal Data Q4 ‘12 to Q4 ‘13.
2 Google Internal Data Q4 ‘13 to Q2 ‘14.
3 IBM Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report, June 2014.
(Note: IBM’s definition of ‘mobile devices’ includes smartphones and tablets.)
4, Holiday Planning Guide, February 2014.
5 Baynote Holiday Shopper Survey, January 2014.

The 2014 holiday shopping season is nearly upon us, and some shoppers are likely already looking for gifts to purchase. This year, brands and marketers have the chance to connect with shoppers as they search for the perfect products throughout the season.

Data shows that shoppers are increasingly turning to mobile—last year, 40% of Black Friday's online shopping was on mobile. Marketers can use mobile to capture interest at the exact moment a customer needs information, and hopefully make a lasting connection between consumer and brand.

Visit Think with Google to read about all 5 trends marketers should know for the upcoming holiday season.

(Cross-posted from the Google Inside AdWords Blog)

Earlier this month, we introduced an upgrade tool for advertisers to upgrade to Shopping campaigns quickly and easily. If you’ve already upgraded, then you’re all set. If you haven’t upgraded yet and don’t do it by the end of this month, the following is what will happen to your regular Product Listing Ads (PLA) campaigns come September.
  • Phase 1: Limited functionality of all regular PLA campaigns - Starting September 2nd, you will not be able to edit your product targeting, max. CPC bids, promotional text and destination URLs anymore. Campaign statuses and budgets will remain editable so you can manage your spend until your regular PLA campaigns are auto-upgraded to Shopping campaigns.
  • Phase 2: Auto-upgrade to Shopping campaigns - Throughout September, regular PLA campaigns that received impressions in the preceding few weeks will be auto-upgraded to a new Shopping campaign with a similar campaign structure. Some regular PLA campaigns, settings and bids might not carry over to your new Shopping campaign due to technical limitations. Once your regular PLA campaigns are auto-upgraded, you’ll receive an email notification and your regular PLA campaigns will stop serving PLAs. Further details on the auto-upgrade are in the AdWords Help Center.

Don’t wait to upgrade
As a final reminder, upgrade your campaigns before September to ensure they are set up as you’d like. We recommend using the upgrade tool as it walks you through the upgrade process step by step.

For more information, visit this help center article on the retirement of regular PLA campaigns and the automatic upgrade to Shopping campaigns. If you have any questions, reach out to the AdWords Community Forum or contact us.

Posted by Eric Tholomé, Director of Product Management, Google Shopping

(Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords Blog)

This is the final stretch. At the end of August, regular Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaigns will retire and be replaced by Shopping campaigns. A majority of you have started upgrading to Shopping campaigns, but if you’re one of the few who haven’t yet, we’re introducing a new upgrade tool that’ll help you upgrade in a matter of clicks.

This tool creates a Shopping campaign from your regular PLA campaign, with a campaign structure and bids based on your regular PLA campaign and historical performance data.
If you haven’t started your upgrade, we encourage you to use this tool as a jumping off point for your Shopping campaigns. Be sure to check your campaign budgets, settings and bids so they’re customized to your business needs.

Note that not all campaigns are compatible with this upgrade tool. If, for example, you use AdWords labels or groupings in your product targeting or inventory filters, you must update your data feed with custom labels before you use the upgrade tool, unless you’re happy to use another attribute to subdivide your inventory in AdWords directly.

You can access the upgrade tool, and check which of your campaigns are eligible, in the Settings tab of your existing Product Listing Ads campaigns. Learn more in the help center.

We’re here to help
We want to make sure you’ve thoughtfully upgraded and are ready for the holidays. Join us for a Learn With Google Hangout on Air on August 12 at 10:00am PST to walk through the new upgrade tool. If you have any questions, reach out to the AdWords Community Forum or contact us.

Posted by Eric Tholomé, Director of Product Management, Google Shopping

(Cross-posted from the DoubleClick Search Blog)

When consumers act, they act fast. Retailers can get a leg up in the marketplace by responding to consumers’ needs as they surface. While some events, such as holidays and championship games, can be anticipated, others, such as weather-related issues, cannot. Using real-time technologies in search, brands can dynamically adjust their reach, competitiveness and relevancy with their target audiences at the most critical times.

In a new Think Insights article, Casandra Jones, Account Director at iProspect, tells us the benefits of adopting SEM tools that act in real time to achieve search success as these important events and conversations occur.

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Check out Casandra’s article on the Think Insights page here, and let us know what you think on Twitter or our Google+ page.

(Cross-posted from the Inside AdWords Blog)

With less than eight weeks left until regular Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaigns retire, we're excited that the majority of PLA advertisers have already started taking advantage of Shopping campaigns, and 85% of these have already fully upgraded. Advertisers who’ve upgraded like Farfetch, US Mattress, LiBoutique and ValuePetSupplies are seeing great success thanks to the retail-centric interface, item-level reporting and competitive benchmark data.

For those of you who’ve upgraded, we’re excited to introduce two new tools to make campaign management, specifically bid optimization, easier.
  • Bulk Uploads: You now have the ability to download a product group report, edit your bids and destination URLs, and import your changes using bulk uploads
  • AdWords Editor: We’ve heard your feedback, and with the latest version of AdWords Editor, you can edit your bids and destination URLs for individual product groups at scale. At this time, AdWords Editor doesn’t support the creation of Shopping campaigns or product groups, so please plan time to create your campaigns and subdivide your product groups directly in AdWords.

If you haven’t upgraded to Shopping campaigns, we strongly encourage you to start as all regular Product Listing Ad campaigns will retire at the end of August.

Many third-party agencies and platforms are upgrading advertisers to Shopping campaigns, so if you work with one, reach out and see how they can help. Here are a few resources to answer questions and get you started:
Posted by Eric Tholomé, Director of Product Management, Google Shopping

Marketers are increasingly turning to search advertising as a way to learn more about their brands and how they can better connect with consumers. L'Oréal Paris, for example, used search to reach a wide audience looking for information about the popular “ombre” hairstyle in 2012. At the time, this hair treatment was only done in salons, but L'Oréal Paris saw the potential in a home market product and it developed one in just a few months. The brand then created YouTube content devoted to the topic, got widespread press coverage, and owned the search for the term—all of which established brand awareness. In the end, the people who had alerted L'Oréal Paris to the trend saw search ads that linked to helpful information, at the moment when they needed it.

While search ads haven’t typically been part of the brand marketer’s toolkit, some like L’Oreal Paris are catching on to their value in building brand awareness. A recent Google/Ipsos MediaCT meta-study showed that search ads drove an average increase of 6.6 percentage points in top-of-mind awareness, from 8.2% to 14.8%—a lift of 80%.

 A new article on Think with Google looks at how brand marketers are understanding and and connecting with audiences using search. Check out the full collection for more details on the research, case studies and a guide for marketers on how to use search for brand marketing.

We introduced Shopping campaigns in February to make it easier for you to manage your Product Listing Ads (PLAs). In late August, Shopping campaigns will be the default campaign type for all PLA advertisers.

To help retailers make the most of their Shopping campaigns, we’re excited to introduce a new best practices guide, “Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns.” It addresses important questions like:
  • How should you structure your campaigns: by product line, performance, or both? 
  • Which feed attributes have the best chance of improving CTR?
  • Are you adjusting bids quickly enough during peak seasons?

Download the “Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns” guide now to ensure you’re making the most of your PLAs and data feeds.

 For additional help, here are a few resources:
Posted by Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing

(cross-posted from the Google Inside AdWords Blog)

Earlier this month, we shared a few success stories on Shopping campaigns, our new campaign type for Product Listing Ads (PLAs), and that the regular PLA campaign type will retire in late August 2014.

To upgrade to Shopping campaigns, we encourage you to create a Shopping campaign from scratch and then customize your product groups and bids from there. That way, you can choose how granular you’d like to get and ensure all your inventory is included in your Shopping campaign.

However, if you would like to base your Shopping campaign on a regular PLA campaign, we’re introducing an option today to help you upgrade.
After setting up your Shopping campaign, you’ll be taken to a new page to create ad groups. Here, you’ll see two options: the ability to start fresh with one ad group or create one or many ad groups based on a regular PLA campaign.

Note that some parts of a regular PLA campaigns aren’t transferable to a Shopping campaign, like product targets that use AdWords labels or groupings. If none of your PLA campaigns are transferrable, you might not see this option.

Keep in mind
With Shopping campaigns, you no longer need to create separate ad groups or product targets to track your impressions, clicks and cost. You can analyze and report on your PLA performance by product attribute or by individual items in the Dimensions tab, regardless of your campaign structure.

As a reminder, all PLA advertisers will need to upgrade to Shopping campaigns by late August 2014, at which time all remaining regular PLA campaigns will be automatically upgraded. Over the next few months, we’ll continue to share more information and tools to help you upgrade your campaigns and manage them at scale.

To learn more about Shopping campaigns and how to upgrade, here are a few resources:

Posted by Eric Tholomé, Director of Product Management, Google Shopping

(cross-posted from the Inside Adwords Blog)

In February, we made Shopping campaigns available to all Product Listing Ad (PLA) advertisers and, in March, we released AdWords API support to help you manage your campaigns at scale. Shopping campaigns offer the ability to browse your inventory directly in AdWords, report on your performance down to the product-level, and bid competitively with new metrics like benchmark data and impression share. We’ve received great feedback from you so far and are excited to share what’s next:
  • Size your opportunity with Bid Simulator - To provide more actionable insight into your PLAs, we’ve been rolling out a Bid Simulator that’s now available in all Shopping campaigns. With a Bid Simulator, you can now estimate how bid changes could impact your impressions, clicks or costs.
  • Options to create a Shopping campaign - In the coming days, we’ll be adding some options to help you get started. You would be able to create a Shopping campaign from scratch or, for many of you, use one of your regular PLA campaigns to create similar product targets, negative keywords or promotional text.
  • Multiple ad groups for advanced retailers - While many of you will be happy with your Shopping campaign as is, we’ve heard from advanced retailers that they’d like to create multiple ad groups. It’s now possible to do this within a Shopping campaign.

Continued Retailer Success
Since we made Shopping campaigns available to all PLA advertisers, we continue to hear many examples of how it helps you manage PLAs and effectively grow your business. Here are a few:
“The benefits of Shopping campaigns can’t be overstated – the ease of setup, the transparency of data, the ability to group products into logical categories and manage to the product level make it a must. All of these contribute to our clients’ ROI almost tripling, and there’s still room to improve.” -JumpFly
“The new Shopping campaigns allowed us to achieve a much higher-level of profitability, cutting costs by 13% and increasing return on ad spend by about 22% on average. Not only that, the new campaign type trims about 2 hours of setup time.” -Exclusive Concepts 
“We used the product-level data from our Shopping campaign to fine-tune our bidding strategy, focusing on the products that acquired the most traffic & lowered the ones that are less important. This helped us increase visits 25% & ROI by 16%.” -Wiggle 
“Shopping campaigns effectively reduced the time spent setting up product-specific bids and optimizing in half. We can now invest even more time into each client, and the results we’ve seen have been no less than amazing. A client selling home accessories saw a 301% increase in revenue after only one month. As a result, we are now changing our agency standards within PLAs to only use Shopping campaigns.” -White Shark Media

Future of Shopping campaigns and retirement of regular PLA campaign type
Shopping campaigns offer a truly retail-centric and seamless approach to PLAs. We're very excited by the positive feedback we've heard so far and will continue to build tools and features into this new campaign type to help you manage your PLAs. Thus, we'll be retiring the regular PLA campaign type and asking all PLA advertisers to upgrade to Shopping campaigns by late August 2014, at which time all remaining PLA campaigns will be automatically upgraded. Over the next few months, we’ll share more information and release more tools to help you upgrade your campaigns and manage them at scale. We encourage you to start planning your upgrade to Shopping campaigns today to take full advantage of the new features as soon as possible.

For additional help, here are a few resources:

Posted by Eric Tholomé, Director of Product Management, Google Shopping

(cross-posted from the Google Commerce Blog)

Want to spend less time worrying about your online purchases? With Orders, a new feature in the latest version of the Google Wallet app for both Android (v. 4.0+, US only) and iOS (v. 6.0+, US only),  you can automatically track your online orders. Google Wallet also notifies you about the status of your orders, plus shows your past orders all in one place.
How it works Once you activate Orders in Google Wallet, you’ll be able to see any receipts sent to your Gmail right in the Google Wallet app. We’ve also worked with primary package carriers in the US so that when your order status is updated, you’ll get notified of the update through Wallet. So whether your order is shipped, out for delivery, or delayed, you’ll never wonder about the status of your order. Easily find your order information Google Wallet also makes it easy to see your order history and details of what you’ve purchased all in one place. You can view the products you’ve ordered, merchant contact information, and shipping details in the app. Plus, with just one click you can call or email the merchant if you have questions about your order.
Get the updated Google Wallet app today Download the new version of the Google Wallet app for Android (v. 4.0+, US only) and iOS (v. 6.0+, US only) on the Google Play Store, rolling out this week in the US. To begin tracking your orders, open the Google Wallet app and click “Activate” under “Track your orders” or click on “Orders” in the menu. In addition to Orders, the Google Wallet app lets you save your loyalty programs and offers in one place, send money to friends and family, and tap your phone to pay if you have an NFC-enabled Android device.

Posted by Amit Litsur, Product Manager

(cross-posted from the DoubleClick Search Blog)

During the 2013 holidays, we shared some tips and tricks on how to adjust your bid strategies to take advantage of seasonal opportunities. Today, we wanted to take a look back and highlight one of our holiday success stories with the DoubleClick Search Performance Bidding Suite for real-time bid optimization. The following story comes from the VivaKi Search Hub -- VivaKi’s marketing support service that uses a deep knowledge of DoubleClick Search to drive results for their advertisers’ search programs.  

One of the VivaKi Search Hub’s advertisers, a large retail brand, looked to the team to overhaul their current strategies for maximizing results over the 2013 Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days. To prepare for this peak time, the team turned to the DoubleClick Search Performance Bidding Suite to automate bids based on real-time conversion data, and respond immediately to market changes. 

Timothy Lackhouse, Team Lead for Bid Strategy at the VivaKi Search Hub, was in charge of managing the advertiser’s bid strategies. “The bid strategies in DoubleClick Search are incredibly clear to set up and modify,” said Lackhouse. “With near real-time and granular reporting, we don’t need to spend countless hours or days waiting for the data. We’re able to get a deep level of insight into our performance right away -- assessing what’s working, what’s not, and making tweaks as necessary.” 

Within days of launching the new bid strategies, the positive results were irrefutable. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the VivaKi Search Hub was able to increase its advertiser’s conversions by 360 percent while lowering CPO by 27 percent -- all while saving 90 minutes a day. 

To get the full scoop on the VivaKi Search Hub’s success with the Performance Bidding Suite, read the full customer story here. Stay tuned to the DoubleClick Search blog and Google+ page for even more customer success stories.

Search data from Sunday night's Academy Awards reveals that women are taking style inspiration from the stars and are looking for Oscar dresses with an eye to buy. In fact, people search more for information on the dresses than they do for the nominees themselves.

Whose dress was most popular this year? And how are brands capitalizing on this interest? See more trends and insights we learned from Hollywood's biggest night on Think with Google.

(cross-posted from the DoubleClick Search Blog)

In an earlier blog post, we highlighted how shoppers exposed to a brand’s Product Listing Ads (PLA) and text ads are more likely to engage with that brand. To take full advantage of this opportunity across ad formats, it’s important that retailers have both a complete, accurate product feed and the tools to manage their campaigns at scale.

Today we’re excited to announce that DoubleClick Search will integrate feed management and optimization capabilities from Channel Intelligence. As an add-on solution to the DoubleClick Search Commerce Suite, the first step in this integration combines the data feed expertise from Channel Intelligence with the core workflow and optimization features from DoubleClick Search. Especially with the announcement of Shopping campaigns, having a detailed product feed is crucial for retailers to run high-impact search campaigns. This integration benefits retailers in the following ways:

  • Build optimized product feeds. Channel Intelligence works with retailers to refine product feeds -- ensuring that the feed is comprehensive, the data is organized, and product attributes are accurate.
  • Use improved feeds to dynamically create and update PLAs and text ads. Channel Intelligence feeds can power DoubleClick Search inventory-aware campaigns for automated campaign management. Using these optimized product feeds, DoubleClick Search can generate customized PLAs and text ads at scale, and keep them up-to-date based on changes to a retailer’s physical inventory.
  • Optimize in real time to maximize ROI. To further boost performance across these ads, DoubleClick Search bid strategies update bids up to 4 times a day, based on up-to-the-minute conversion information. This scale and speed allows retailers to respond to product inventory changes and market trends at the drop of a hat -- even during the busiest holiday shopping days.

Performics pilots solution for major retail client
Global leader Performics is one of the first agencies to take advantage of the integrated offering for one of their clients, a large department store retailer.

"We're really excited to team with Channel Intelligence and DoubleClick Search to optimize and fully integrate the search experience for our retail brands,” says Eric Papczun, President US of Performics. “The integration is greater than the sum of its parts, and we feel that these combined technologies will give our clients a clear competitive edge in the marketplace."

Even more to come
To learn more, join us for a webinar on March 10th where we’ll cover the integration, as well as discuss the power of moving toward real-time for retail campaigns. Sign up for the webinar here

Our teams will also be attending eTail West coming up March 3 - 6. Come meet us during the pre-day panels and roundtables, hear us present a keynote on Day 3, or find us on the conference floor.