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https://relativityseo.com/seo-services/ Ginny Marvin – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 28 May 2020 14:14:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 Google Ads credits for SMBs start rolling out /google-ads-credits-for-smbs-start-rolling-out-335274 Wed, 27 May 2020 18:12:05 +0000 /?p=335274 The $340 million program will phase in over the coming weeks.

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Starting today, Google is beginning the first phase of its program to provide $340 million in Google Ads advertising credits for eligible small and medium-sized businesses. Qualifying advertisers in New Zealand will be the first recipients of this program.

Advertisers that qualify will be notified and see the credit to be used for future advertising in their Google Ads accounts.

How much? Google also has provided more information about the amount of the credits. The amount will vary by advertiser, based on historical spend, up to a maximum of $1,000 US dollars (or the equivalent in the currency of the account).

Advertisers will receive one credit and have until December 31 to use it, after which it will expire.

Why is this being phased in? Google has long had a coupon program for new advertisers, but the company had to build a new product and infrastructure to support this credit program. The phasing process will help ensure a smooth rollout for the new system.

Google says that, after starting with New Zealand, it aims to roll out credits over the next several weeks.

To be eligible. This program is intended to support existing, dedicated advertisers who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. To be eligible for an ad credit, you will need to have run Google Ads campaigns in 10 out of 12 months in 2019 and in either January and/or February of 2020. It doesn’t matter if the campaigns were run in Google Ads account directly or through a partner.

There is no way to apply to this program.

Why we care. The credits are designed to be used to help SMBs start to re-engage customers in the coming months. The COVID-19 crisis has severely affected small businesses, and these credits are part of a larger effort to support this important customer base. Earlier today, the company introduced Google My Business features aimed at helping SMBs adapt and survive the crisis. For example, business owners globally can now add donation and gift card links to business profiles, through Google partnerships with PayPal and GoFundMe.

For more on the ads credit program, see the help center page.

Related:

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Google is coming for Facebook budgets with Discovery ads, now available globally /google-is-coming-for-facebook-budgets-with-discovery-ads-now-available-globally-335160 Wed, 27 May 2020 11:01:00 +0000 /?p=335160 Discovery campaigns are available to all advertisers globally.

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Discovery ads serve automatically across YouTube, Discover and Gmail.

Google introduced two big image-driven ad tests at its Google Marketing Live event last year. Gallery ads for Search campaigns didn’t make it and are set to shuffle off this summer, but Discovery ads have emerged from testing and are now available to all advertisers globally.

Discovery campaigns quietly rolled out last month, and Google made the news official Wednesday. Discovery ads are eligible to serve across the YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds, Discover feed on the Google Search app and in Gmail Promotion and Social tabs and open up new avenues for both Google and advertisers.

Treading lightly

If you’ve failed to notice ads in Discover feed yet, that’s because Google is treading very lightly here. The company says Discovery campaigns are delivering scale for advertisers, but it is being very cautious — particularly about ads in Discover feed.

There is currently just one ad slot — in position three — on the Discover feed. More ads are likely, but Jerry Dischler, VP/GM of Ads Platforms & Google Properties, in a phone interview Tuesday, said “we are holding the quality bar really high and only showing the ads that have the best image assets that we think are most relevant to users” in that context.

Google machine learning is used to determined when to serve a Discovery ad that will deliver the best results on the campaign objective, said Dischler, who noted results continue to improve.

Welcome to Google Ads, social media marketers

As we wrote last year, “Discovery campaigns take their cue from Facebook’s success at exactly this type of visually impactful, native ad format targeted based on audience data rather than search intent.”

When Google introduced the Discovery campaign type last year, it called out that the Discover feed has more than 800,000 monthly users. Now, Google is rolling up usage across the YouTube, Discover and Gmail surfaces to claim a combined audience of 2.9 billion people. This approach to audience totals takes a page from Facebook, which started reporting usage across its “family of apps” last year. As it would happen, Facebook reported 2.99 billion monthly active people (MAP) as of March 31.

In other words, Google is saying it can offer reach on par with Facebook.

In case it wasn’t abundantly clear that Discovery ads are aimed at paid social dollars, Google spells it out. In one case study cited in today’s announcement, Deckers “repurposed high-quality images from social campaigns” for Discovery ads last holiday season. In another, Gareth Cleevely, VP head of paid search at iProspect, says, “We’ve seen them deliver positive performance further down the funnel with up to 48% lower cost-per-action compared to social ads.” And yet another, Phil Twigg, head of acquisition at MandM Direct, says, “We were able to quickly scale our social media campaigns to Discovery ads.”

Related: Get the Periodic Tables of PPC

It is the Discovery ads that come out of the social vernacular that tend to perform best, said Dischler. He noted that in evaluating ad creatives during testing, they’d know which ones were created by social teams, display teams and search teams. Those who are using or adapting ads starting from social assets, including high-quality images, have been most successful in using Discovery ads to “inspire users and generate demand,” he said. Advertisers are “now understanding the value of a more multi-faceted marketing strategy.”

Discovery campaigns aren’t just another effort by Google to move beyond search intent and deliver audience connections throughout the funnel, they give Google an avenue into working with social budgets and teams. Which team is ultimately responsible for Discovery campaigns will vary, but in many cases agencies and companies will have search, display and now social teams with a hand in Google Ads campaigns.

How to get started with Discovery campaigns

Discovery campaigns are now available in Google Ads.

Discovery ads are set up in Discovery campaigns. There are two ad formats: Discovery carousel ads with multiple images and Discovery ads with a single image.

For image assets, you can have Google scan your website for images that meet the size requirements, upload images, or select stock images from a Shutterstock library. The key is to have eye-catching, high-quality images. Google’s creative guide for says, “Aspirational imagery and copy is crucial.”

As with responsive search ads (RSAs), Discovery ads serve combinations of headlines and descriptions automatically. Enter up to five headlines and and five descriptions.

Google will also show a weekly impression estimate based on your geographic targeting. Targeting the United States? The weekly impressions estimate is 3.3 billion.

You can let Google automatically choose the call to action text in your ads or choose from more than ten options such as “Apply Now,” “Contact Us,” “Download,” “Visit Site,” and “Shop Now.”

Discovery campaign ad groups should be organized your campaign by strategy or theme.

In additon to location, Discovery campaigns can be targeted by audience and/or demographic (age, gender, parental status and household income).

Note that as this is one of Google’s automated universal campaign types, smart bidding is required and Ad Rotation and Frequency capping are not available for this campaign type. Google also notes in its Discovery ads tips page that advertisers should “Choose an average daily budget at least 10 times the value of your target cost-per-action (CPA) bid and wait for at least 40 conversions before making changes to your campaign.”

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Analyze retail category performance across Google Ads Search and Shopping campaigns /analyze-retail-category-performance-across-google-ads-search-and-shopping-campaigns-335151 Tue, 26 May 2020 19:34:26 +0000 /?p=335151 The cross-channel reporting is designed to help retailers and brands better understand and optimize ad performance across campaign types.

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New Google Ads retail category reporting allows retailers to see product category performance across Search and Shopping campaigns.

The reports show performance across a set of pre-defined product categories based on labels Google “uses to categorize the words that people search for on Google.”

To get started. Create a new custom table report from the Reports tab in Google Ads. The fastest way to start building a retail category report is to just enter “Retail” in the search bar in the report builder.

There are five levels of product categories, each one more granular than the next. You can add any level or stack levels in the rows section. Then add “Campaign type” to be able to see performance by Search and Shopping and add the metrics you want to analyze in the columns section. You an also add other dimensions, of course, including campaign name and campaign subtype which will show you performance for Smart Shopping campaigns.

Why we care. Retail advertisers can then can apply filters and segments to see only those categories that meet certain activity thresholds and dig in to performance differences by bid strategy, targeting, location and more to help inform budget allocations and campaign optimizations.

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4 takeaways from Walmart’s Q1 earnings for brands, e-commerce marketers /takeaways-walmart-q1-fy2021-earnings-brands-ecommerce-marketers-334889 Tue, 19 May 2020 21:00:19 +0000 /?p=334889 Walmart is shuttering Jet.com as it embraces an omnichannel strategy and looks to make e-commerce more profitable.

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Walmart U.S. reported total revenue of $134.6 billion, up 8.6% year-over-year for the first quarter in its fiscal year 2021. The financial report sheds light on the company’s shifting approach to e-commerce as well as broader consumer trends during the coronavirus pandemic.

So long, Jet.com

The biggest news? After acquiring the fledgling Jet.com for $3.3 billion in 2016, Walmart announced it is shuttering the e-commerce marketplace.

“Due to continued strength of the Walmart.com brand, the company will discontinue Jet.com,” Walmart noted in its first quarter of its fiscal year 2021 earnings report on Tuesday. “The acquisition of Jet.com nearly four years ago was critical for accelerating our omni strategy.”

Despite steep investments, Jet.com never found its footing to catch on with consumers or brands. Jet.com launched with massive VC funding and set its sights set on urban millennials. The acquisition was meant to help Walmart supercharge its e-commerce technology capabilities to compete against Amazon, and it arguably did that. Jet.com went through a number of changes over the years and initially operated independently. Walmart integrated Jet’s teams into its own teams last year.

E-commerce grew 74%

The COVID-19 crisis has spurred massive spikes in demand for e-commerce. Walmart reported e-commerce sales were up 74% year-over-year. The company also noted demand for its grocery pickup and delivery services during this time.

“As a result of the health crisis and related stay-at-home mandates, customers consolidated store shopping trips with larger average baskets and shifted more purchases to eCommerce.”

Walmart doesn’t publish revenues for e-commerce business. It is still not profitable, but Walmart U.S. reported lower losses in e-commerce year-over-year. It’s e-commerce operations have lost some $2 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Omni-channel focus

Walmart now sees its stores as a key part of its e-commerce strategy that looks to integrate online-to-offline capabilities. As the Wall Street Journal reported in December, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced the retail giant would look to its supercenters as e-commerce hubs rather than focus on building separate e-commerce warehouses and standalone ventures.

That network retail locations give Walmart multiple ways to get products to consumers. The company said store pickup, delivery, ship to home and ship from store orders were strong throughout the quarter.

These offering are part of a broader trend. Earlier this month, Adobe reported buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) orders were up more than 200% year-over-year in April across its data set which includes thousands of retailers.

The company also said Marketplace saw strong sales. That’s Walmart’s third-party e-commerce marketplace that takes a page from Amazon, including advertising programs.

COVID’s impact on consumer behavior

Walmart said consumer “stock-up” trips surged in mid-March as businesses closed and U.S. consumers responded to shelter-in-place orders. Sales then slowed in the first half of April, but accelerated again when government stimulus checks went out, Walmart said. March comp sales increased 15.4% year-over-year, while April saw comp sales rise by 9.5%. For comparison, February comp sales grew by 3.8%.

Food, consumables, and health & wellness category sales were strong, while apparel was particularly soft. The company said electronics, media & gaming, toys, sporting goods and home sales were also strong. Crafts and fabric, in particular, saw sales growth.

Like many other companies, Walmart declined to provide forward-looking financial guidance due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. “While the short-term environment will be challenging, we’re positioned well for long-term success in an increasingly omni world,” said Walmart CFO Brett Biggs.

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YouTube Select: YouTube’s new premium advertising program adds connected TV targeting /youtube-select-youtubes-new-premium-advertising-program-adds-connected-tv-targeting-334871 Tue, 19 May 2020 16:34:51 +0000 /?p=334871 Brand advertisers will be able to target TV screen viewing for the first time.

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YouTube has relaunched its premium advertising program, now called YouTube Select. The company made the announcement ahead of its Brandcast upfront presentation to advertisers next month.

YouTube Select rolls up the program formerly known as Google Preferred and connected TV viewing into a global offering. Google Preferred allowed advertisers in select markets to target the top 5% of video content in certain categories and was largely focused on the U.S., though it was also available in Canada, the UK and Australia.

Lineups. YouTube Select packages content in what it calls lineups that are tailored by market for topics such as beauty & fashion, entertainment, technology, sports and more.

An offering called emerging lineups, designed to offer “expanded reach,” will feature content in up and coming or niche channels. They’ll be available in the U.S. only to start and include brand suitability controls.

Custom sponsorships and programs. are also available to help brands target audiences across top YouTube apps and verticals like YouTube Kids, Sports, Music and Originals.

TV audience targeting. YouTube says more than 100 million people watch YouTube and its over-the-top (OTT) service YouTube TV monthly in the U.S.

To take advantage of this surge, advertisers in the U.S. will be able to target a dedicated streaming TV lineup. The TV lineup will include YouTube Originals, live sports, movies, news and content from popular creators.

The company previously announced Brand Lift measurement on TV screens. It will eventually be available globally for the YouTube app and YouTube TV.

Buying options. Ad buying options will vary by region. Advertisers will be able to buy into some YouTube Select lineups via Google Ads, Display & Video 360 and reservation in many countries, including most countries in Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Why we care. Connected TV (CTV) viewing has increased considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic. YouTube Select will help YouTube monetize this new behavior. Brand advertisers can target YouTube Select locally tailored lineups of technology, food & recipe, Spanish, entertainment & pop culture, comedy, music and other content categories. YouTube says global lineups delivered an average awareness lift of 13% and an average purchase intent lift of 9% in 2019.

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FAQ: All about Google Shopping’s free and paid product listings /faq-all-about-google-shoppings-free-and-paid-product-listings-334729 Mon, 18 May 2020 18:59:19 +0000 /?p=334729 A Google Shopping guide to what it is, how it works and how to increase product visibility across Google.

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Google shook up Shopping search in April 2020 by including free listings in Google Shopping results. This new approach is live in the U.S. and will roll out globally by the end of the year. Its a significant change for Google Shopping after eight years of being an advertising-based service. For retailers it means you no longer have to advertise to show up in Google Shopping — in fact, most results are now organic.

From making your products eligible to show for free in Google Shopping to measuring results and optimizing for maximum visibility, here’s what retailers and brands need to know to make the most of Google Shopping now that it includes both organic and paid listings. 

What is Google Shopping?  

First, the basics. Google Shopping is a vertical search engine that surfaces product ads and, now, organic product listings deemed relevant to the user’s search query. As we wrote when this news first broke, this is a kind of back to the future moment for Google product search, which used to be free (and initially called Froogle) before it shifted to a purely paid product in 2012. 

Users can access Google Shopping via the “Shopping” tab on Google.com or in the Google app. On the main Google search results page, users can click the “See [product]” link when a product listings ads (PLA) carousel appears to get to the Shopping tab.

Ads show in a carousel above the organic listings in Google Shopping search results pages. Filter options are also available.

Users can refine and filter Shopping results similar to retailer and marketplace sites like Amazon. This includes the ability to see products available to “Buy on Google.” We’ll get into that a bit later. Ads do not always show when certain filters are applied.

Download the Periodic Table of Digital Commerce Marketing

There is also a Google Shopping hub at shopping.google.com which offers personalized product recommendations for users based on their shopping and search history and saved lists when they are logged into a Google account. The homepage primarily shows Google Shopping Actions inventory (more on that below). Some modules on the homepage, such as “Trending on Google” and “Recent Price Drops,” are comprised of free listings. The search results pages show a mix of paid and organic listings similar to the Shopping tab results. This experience is live in France and the U.S.

Google Shopping hub homepage.
The home page on Shopping.Google.com features ads that are personalized based on a users’ past search and browsing activity on Google. Organic listings appear only on search results pages.

What do the free listings look like on Google Shopping?

On desktop, the organic listings don’t look all that different from the ads, as shown in the earlier screenshot. However, on mobile, Google is using several different treatments for free listings, depending on the product category.

Google Shopping free listings treatments varies by product category.
Google Shopping free listings treatments varies by product category.

The typical free listings treatment for most product categories looks like the “wireless keyboard” example on the left above, with horizontal listings. Home furnishing organic listings look more like the ads, but are a bit bigger with two listings appearing side by side, as shown in the “leather couch” example above. Organic fashion listings, meanwhile, are enormous, as you can see in the “women’s jeans” example on the right above.

Compare listings by store. When multiple stores offer the same product, Google will give users the ability to compare pricing and more side by side. You’ll notice in the “wireless keyboard” example above that users can either click directly through to Best Buy or click to “Compare prices from 10+ stores.” Clicking that link brings up a list of stores with seller ratings, return policies, discount offers and pricing with tax and shipping. These listings link to the product pages on retailer websites.

Online store options in Google Shopping
Pricing, ratings, return and shipping policies and selection can impact click-through rates from Online store listings.

Where do ads appear in Google Shopping?

Similar to Google’s main search results, ads now show at the top and bottom of Google Shopping results pages. Google may experiment with other layouts — Amazon, you may have noticed, has increasingly peppered its search results pages with sponsored products ads.

The Google Shopping hub’s search results pages have the same treatment. The hub’s homepage, however, will continue to feature ads only, at least for now. 

Note that text ads may also appear at the bottom of Shopping page search results on mobile and desktop, as shown in the example below. 

Product ads and text ads may show at the bottom of Google Shopping search results pages.

Did Shopping ads on the main search results change?

Nothing has changed about the way Shopping ads appear on the main Google search results pages as the result of this update. The carousels of traditional Shopping ads and Showcase ads continue to show at the top of the page on mobile and at the top or in the right rail on desktop. 

How do retailers get products to show in Google Shopping for free?

To get started with showing your products in Google Shopping’s organic listings, you’ll first need to have a Google Merchant Center (GMC) account. This is where you’ll set up your store and upload your product information. GMC is free to use, whether you’re running Google Ads campaigns or not. 

You’ll need to verify and claim your website and configure the tax and shipping settings for your store in GMC.

Product feeds. A product feed is a structured file or spreadsheet that includes all the relevant information about the products you sell, including an optimized product title, description, product images, pricing, availability and more. You can find the full list of product feed attributes here. You’ll need to upload your product feed to Google Merchant Center in order to run ads or be included in organic listings in Google Shopping.

You can manually create and upload a product feed in Excel or Google Sheets, but this is cumbersome to maintain if you’re products, inventory or pricing change regularly. Your best bet is to automate feed creation and uploads, and there are several ways to do this.

Most e-commerce platforms have plugins or apps that will generate product feeds automatically, or a developer can create a feed that will update automatically. Most e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce have integrations to help automate product data and inventory updates in Google Merchant Center. You can also post your feed in Google Sheets, host a file on your site and schedule Google to fetch updates or, for larger, more complex accounts use Google’s Content API.

Google offers several methods for uploading product feeds into Merchant Center.

Google also launched an integration with PayPal in May. Retailers can connect their PayPal accounts to Merchant Center to speed up the account verification process and help keep product data updated. (Fun fact: Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready, joined the company in December 2019 from PayPal where he served as COO.) Google says it will be adding more platform integrations soon.

Opt-in. OK, now you’ve got your product feed(s) ready to upload. There is one simple but key step left. To be eligible to show your products for free in Google Shopping, you’ll need to opt into “Surfaces across Google” in your Google Merchant Center account. This leads us to the next question…

What is Surfaces across Google?

Surfaces across Google a catch-all for all the places Google might show your product listings for free via its properties, including: Google Images, Google Shopping, Google Lens, and Google Search.

You can opt into unpaid listings on Surfaces across Google from the Tools menus in Google Merchant Center as shown below.

Opt-into Surfaces across Google to be eligible to show free product listings in Google Shopping and elsewhere.

What about product schema? Google crawls product schema on websites and uses it to display product data in search results. If you’re using product schema on your product pages, you may already see your products show in Google Image search and the Popular Products section of the main search results, for example. However, for now, you must use a product feed in GMC to show in Google Shopping organic results.

Can I show local, in-store product listings for free in Google Shopping?

If you have physical stores, there is a separate program in Google Merchant Center called Local surfaces across Google to show products available in local stores on Google Search, Google Images, Google Shopping, Google Maps and Google Lens. To opt in, click “Growth” in the left-hand menu in GMC and select “Local surfaces across Google.” This requires separate local product inventory feeds that list the products available in your stores that gets submitted at least once per day.

How can I track and measure traffic from organic Google Shopping listings?

Google has added some reporting in Google Merchant Center to show paid and unpaid clicks. You’ll see the charts below on the Overview page in GMC, and there is a new Performance report that shows clicks from Surfaces across Google. It’s nice to see clicks, but of course, what we really care about is what happens after the click. Is anyone buying? Which products are earning free traffic and generating sales?

Paid and unpaid performance charts in Google Merchant Center only show click data.

In Google Analytics, clicks from free Shopping listings are lumped in with “google / organic” traffic. That means you won’t be able to tell how your organic Shopping listings performed versus your traditional organic search listings. With some simple tagging, though, you’ll be able to get much deeper insights into how free clicks from Google Shopping perform.

Product URL tagging. To get detailed data in your analytics, you can add tagging to the product URLs in your feed. Kirk Williams of ZATO Marketing was among the first to detail a tagging process in a blog post, which I recommend reading in full. In short, you can add UTM tags to the landing page URLs (located in the Link attribute column) in your product feed to be able to distinguish organic traffic coming from Surfaces across Google.

You can add the tagging directly in the feed or by using Feed Rules in Google Merchant Center. In Google Analytics, be sure the Advanced Settings option to allow manual tagging overrides is unchecked in your Property settings.

Once your feed is reprocessed, you’ll be able to see how those free clicks from Surfaces across Google actually perform on your site.

Both Shopping feed destinations are checked by default when you upload a new feed to GMC.

The way the system is designed, it is not possible to run duplicate feeds on Shopping ads and Surfaces across Google. That will cause Shopping ads to be disabled.

What does this mean for Google Shopping Actions?

There is no direct impact on the Google Shopping Actions — aka “Buy on Google” — program with the addition of free listings in Google Shopping. However, because Google Shopping Actions listings already show across Google Search, Shopping and Assistant surfaces, they may show in both paid and organic listings in Google Shopping. Retailers in the program pay a commission on items sold via Shopping Actions.

Google shows a shopping cart icon on listings from retailers that participate in Google Shopping Actions. The “Buy on Google” functionality enable users to purchase items directly from a listing using the billing credentials stored in their Google accounts.

Google has “Buy on Google” filters on mobile and desktop, but sometimes it will show a listing to view “Buy on Google” offers above the main organic listings, as shown in the example below.

"Buy on Google" listing shown on Google Shopping mobile results.
The “Buy on Google” listing links to listings from retailers participating in Google Shopping Actions.

How can I optimize my products for Google Shopping?

There are a number of factors that can improve your visibility in Google Shopping. Pricing and product titles are two of the biggest levers when it comes to product feed optimization. Here are some resources to help you optimize your product feeds for Google Shopping.

Optimize product titles. Research has shown that product title optimization can make a huge impact on impression and click volume in Google Shopping ads, results are likely to be similar for organic listings. Understanding how users search for products like yours will help you craft well-optimized product titles in your feed.

Keyword research sources. If you’re already running Shopping campaigns, be sure to mine your Search Terms reports to understand what search terms are triggering your product ads. Consider adding popular terms that perform well in your product titles to increase impression share for your products.

Filter options in Google Shopping.
Look at the filter options in Google Shopping for keyword optimization ideas.

The Search, Shopping and Image results pages themselves also offer a trove of keyword ideas. On the Shopping results, look at the filter options Google shows for your product categories. Google also shows popular filter options and related searches at the bottom of Search results pages (mobile and desktop) and Shopping pages (desktop) as well as in Image search results on mobile and desktop). Google’s main Search results will also often feature suggestions to “Refine” a search — by trend, fit, material, for example.

Pricing. If you’re running Google Shopping ads, the Price competitiveness report in Google Merchant Center may be helpful in showing you how your product pricing stacks up against the competition. You’ll need to opt into Market Insights in GMC to use this feature. This report only shows ads data, but can help inform how price-competitive your products are, generally. Be sure the pricing data in your feed accurately matches the pricing on your landing pages.

Discounts, sale prices. Google will indicate when products are on sale when you use the “Sale price” attribute in your product feed. Discounts may show as a “price drop” or “sale” banner in Google Shopping.

Further, there is a Shop Sales By Store section that may appear on Shopping search results. Similar to Showcase Shopping ads, these listings are store-based and feature a few individual products — in this case, highlighting price reductions. Clicking on one of these unpaid listings leads to a Google Shopping page highlighting the store promotion and individual products.

The Shop Sales By Store unit is comprised of unpaid listings that pull sale data from Google Merchant Center.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that all merchants that submit retail promotions or sale prices in their feeds in Google Merchant Center can be eligible to show up in the Shop Sales By Store unite.

Product images. High-quality product images are a must. In terms of background, context matters. The standard recommendation is to show your images with a white background. That’s a good rule of thumb, but there’s room to experiment. Showing a home furnishing product in a room, can indicate scale and help users visualize a piece in their own space, for example. Whenever possible, add multiple images in your feeds using the additional_image_link attribute. You can add up to 10 images per product.

Product identifiers. Use the correct unique product identifiers — GTIN, MPN, and Brand — whenever possible. If you don’t have or can’t track down the identifiers, leave the fields blank rather than try to make up IDs.

Update: This article has been corrected to indicate the Shopping hub homepage does not feature ads and removed reference to running separate ads and organic feeds. This is not possible based on the way the system is designed. The article has been updated to include information about the Shop Sales By Store unit.

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Google to sunset Gallery ads beta, focus on Image Extensions /google-to-sunset-gallery-ads-beta-focus-on-image-extensions-334781 Fri, 15 May 2020 19:33:01 +0000 /?p=334781 Simple wins out. Image extensions and dynamic image extension betas will continue.

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Gallery ads, the splashy, image-driven format that Google introduced last year, will be phasing out. Instead, Google will focus its other image beta, image extensions.

Google is informing Gallery ad beta testers that the format will sunset beginning in August. The ads featured a large carousel of images. The format has worked for the automotive industry with the auto ad unit, but didn’t gain enough traction with other verticals.

Whereas Gallery ads required setting up a whole new ad format and having effective image assets on hand, image extensions have a much lower barrier to entry.

Image extensions. Image extensions are still in closed beta, so you won’t see them in your accounts yet unless you’ve been whitelisted. The images show as a thumbnail alongside a text ad, as shown in the example below, recently spotted by digital marketing consultant Conrad O’Connell.

An image extension displays in a Booking.com text ad. Screenshot: Conrad O’Connell

Like Gallery ads, image extensions started on mobile-only, but Google is now testing them on desktop as well. The treatment takes a page from organic listings, which also often feature a similar thumbnail image, as you can see in the organic TripAdvisor listing here.

Image ad extensions reflect the thumbnail treatment in organic listings on Google.

Dynamic image extensions. Google is also testing dynamic image extensions. Advertisers can go the manual route and upload image assets (square, recommended size 1200 x 1200) to their accounts, or go dynamic and opt to let Google select images automatically from their sites.

Why we care. Images in text ads have been a long-running experiment. This is at least Google’s third go at image extensions alone, with different tests in 2013 and again in 2016. (Microsoft Advertising image extensions have been available since 2015.)

Gallery ads likely suffered from the friction involved in setting up new ad formats and from measurement challenges. They functioned more like display ads and were aimed at broad queries. Adding a gallery ad to your ad group would likely increase impressions, but also make it more difficult to measure and manage to marketing targets. Advertisers also had to be OK with being charged once a user swiped past three images in the gallery (the minimum number of images was four). Gallery ads were more exciting than another ad extension, but in the end, they didn’t serve a clear need — at least in this go-round.

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Google Chrome to crack down on battery- and data-sucking display ads /google-chrome-resource-heavy-ads-crack-down-334741 Thu, 14 May 2020 22:04:45 +0000 /?p=334741 The move follows other efforts to block "annoying" ads from loading on the browser.

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Google’s Chrome browser will start blocking resource-heavy ads around the end of August, the company announced Thursday.

Ads that are programmed poorly, aren’t network-optimized or mine cryptocurrency (seriously) can affect users’ devices — hogging network data and draining batteries.

“We have recently discovered that a fraction of a percent of ads consume a disproportionate share of device resources, such as battery and network data, without the user knowing about it,” Marshall Vale, a Chrome product manager wrote.

What will happen? Chrome will limit the resources a display ad can use before a user engages with it. If an ad exceeds the resource limit, Chrome will unload the ad using a mechanism called Heavy Ad Intervention. Users will see a message such as “Ad removed” in place of the ad, as shown in the example below.

Image: Google.

Resource thresholds. Chrome will filter ads based on the following thresholds: 4MB of network data or 15 seconds of CPU usage in any 30 second period, or 60 seconds of total CPU usage.

Why we care. This move follows other efforts to filter or block certain ads from loading on sites in Chrome based on the Better Ads Standards. Very few advertisers will be affected by this change. Google says just .3% of ads exceed these thresholds today, but they account for 27% of network data used by ads and 28% of all ad CPU usage. Just in case, now’s the time to start looking at your ad builds to be ready for the change. There are Heavy Ad Intervention testing resources here.

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Retailers can now link their PayPal and Google Merchant Center accounts /retailers-can-now-link-their-paypal-and-google-merchant-center-accounts-334634 Tue, 12 May 2020 15:41:14 +0000 /?p=334634 The integration makes it easier to get up and running with Google's free Shopping listings.

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Connect your PayPal account to Google Merchant Center.

When Google announced last month that its Shopping search results would include free listings, it also announced an integration with PayPal. That integration is now live.

Retailers and brands using PayPal as a checkout option on their sites can link their PayPal accounts to their Google Merchant Center accounts in order to onboard products for listings across Google. If you’re new to Google Merchant Center, the PayPal connection can also speed up the merchant verification process.

How to get started. After you log into Google Merchant Center, click on the Tools icon in the upper left navigation and then “Linked accounts” under the Settings menu. Select “Platforms” and you’ll see the option to link your PayPal account.

You’ll need to opt into Surfaces across Google in order to have your products eligible to appear in organic listings on Google Shopping, Search, Images and elsewhere.

Why we care. For now, PayPal is the only platform listed, but Google says, “Soon there will be more platforms to choose from.” These types of integrations lower the barrier to entry for merchants to get their products on Google. This helps retailers expand to new unpaid channels and helps Google broaden the universe of products it can show users.

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Google tests ‘Curbside Pickup’ badge for local Shopping ads /google-tests-curbside-pickup-badge-for-local-shopping-ads-334304 Mon, 11 May 2020 14:00:29 +0000 /?p=334304 Local Inventory Ads gain prominence with "In store" mobile experience and "Curbside pickup" option.

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“Curbside pickup” badges are now appearing on eligible Local Inventory Ads in Google Shopping

One area where Google has an edge over Amazon? Local retail. In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Google has been giving local businesses more messaging options such as special store hours, pickup and delivery options and more in Google My Business. Now, it has also enabled “Curbside pickup” badges for Local Inventory Ads.

Curbside pickup. Google has been piloting the “Curbside pickup” feature with a small group of Local Inventory Ad (LIA) retailers since the end of April. Officially announced Monday, the badges appear at the top of eligible ads on both mobile and desktop results.

To get “Curbside pickup” enabled in your LIAs, you’ll need to meet the criteria for Store Pickup and offer same-day or next-day pickup from the time the order is placed. To join the beta, you’ll need to reach out to your Google reps or fill out this form.

The feature is available where Local Inventory Ads have launched: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the U.S.

“In Store” tab. Google also shows an “In Store” and “Shop Online” slider on mobile searches when it determines there might be local intent. This feature has been out for a while, but the GIF below from Emil Kirk, senior paid search specialist at performance marketing agency s360 in Denmark, shows how the In Store and Shop Online slider in the Shopping ad carousel on mobile works.

Users can either click on either tab or swipe along the carousel to navigate between the “In Store” and “Shop Online” options.

Users can click or swipe to see the ads under the In Store and Online tabs. Image: s360.

Why we care. E-commerce has surged during the pandemic, but the shift in consumer demand during the pandemic has also put great strain on e-commerce fulfillment capabilities. Amazon, as the key example, has experienced significant shipping delays, stopped accepting non-essential inventory from sellers for a period and hired more than 175,000 fulfillment workers since mid-March. In response to slow e-commerce delivery times, Google says searches for “in stock” have increased more than 70% from the week of March 28 to April 4.

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