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Will Recent Google Updates Help or Hurt Your Holiday Marketing Plans?

  |  October 21, 2013   |  Comments

Recent changes by Google may have some impact on your holiday marketing campaigns. Gregg Stewart explains.

Having your local and mobile plans optimized this holiday season takes on even greater importance with a few of the shifts that Google has introduced into the search landscape.

Enhanced Campaigns

On July 22nd, Google rolled Enhanced Campaigns into their Adwords product. This may be greatly over simplifying, but basically, enhanced campaigns allowed Google to add and better monetize mobile search queries.

The reason: as we pointed out earlier in the year, desktop searches on Google have declined while mobile-based searches are on the increase. Some advertisers and agencies did a good job preparing for the new campaign nuances (Google had announced the change over 6 months ago). Yet many advertisers are only becoming aware of the change as they review their campaign results since July 22nd. In my discussions with SMB advertisers, many are confused by a decrease in conversions from a consistent level of SEM spend. Now, there are a host of potential reasons, but a couple of common threads have appeared from these dialogues.

First, desktop and mobile fundamentally serve differing parts of the sales funnel. In general, desktop provides support for product information and comparison associated with the higher level of the sales funnel. For e-businesses that have the ability to sell online, desktop is also for sales closure in the form of an online order (lowest level sales funnel).

Mobile, on the other hand, is generally used in the middle and lower sales funnel. Also, mobile is more often associated with directional queries of location than online e-business ordering (even though those numbers are on the rise). So we tend to see consumers utilizing mobile queries very close to the point of purchase.

As we pointed out last month in Counting Offline Conversions from Online Advertising, measuring online advertising's impact is hard work, but if we are to value the new volume of mobile leads that enhanced campaigns provide, we need to better value and score these leads.


Additionally, one observation we have seen for SMBs and large brands alike is their relative unfriendly mobile presence. A large percentage have yet to adopt a responsive or adaptive design to address the unique needs of the mobile viewing environment. This fact, coupled with the increase in mobile lead flow from enhanced campaigns, has lead to a decline in conversions as consumers opt-out of a mobile un-friendly advertiser site.

Local PLAs

Just last week, Google added new local features for their popular Product Listing Ads (PLAs). PLAs have been popular for marketers that sell online and more specifically, higher ticket or higher margin products, because of the increased costs over traditional PPC methods.


Danny Goodwin from Search Engine Watch recently wrote an excellent summary of the Local PLA features, attributes and availability of this new ad format/enhancement.

Preparing Your Online & Mobile Holiday Campaigns

As the holidays approach, make sure you've addressed your local online and mobile marketing plans and content needs:

Take a look at your mobile web presence. Can consumers easily navigate to your conversion points? Do you make it easy for consumers to convert? If they are looking for an in-store experience, are you providing them with tools to help you understand their engagement path, like online couponing for offline conversion, which enables better measurement points? Here are some tips from a past column on mobile.

Make sure your offerings and ad campaigns are optimized for holiday purchasing behaviors. Here is a case where ‘less is more,' driven both by the emerging mobile limitation reality and the seasonality associated with traditional holiday buying trends. For example, featuring patio furniture in northern climates in your content and ad weights vs. pausing these campaign and reallocating funds to in-season items seems like a common sense approach, yet we see numerous brands and merchants not applying even these most basic strategies.

Step up customer assistance in support of the increased lead and sales flows that the holidays bring, including first time purchasers. Just as brick-and-mortar retailers add staff for the holidays, e-businesses can benefit from providing additional support. Winning strategies we have seen applied include adding online chat support to help new customers navigate both online and to offline purchase points. If you have access to a call center, add even more occurrences/emphasis of the telephone number on both your online and mobile presences.

The 2013 holiday season will be the first where mobile will be such a pervasive opportunity to make or break your holiday selling season. Simple adjustments to both your PPC and PLA programs can have a dramatic impact on your success. Are you prepared?


Gregg Stewart

Gregg Stewart is founder and president of 15miles, a full-service marketing agency and consultancy, specializing in digital solutions, headquartered in Connecticut. 15miles supports businesses and agencies of all sizes. With more than 20 years of experience, Stewart applies his successful tenured career in interactive advertising and local search to the ongoing development of digital and mobile solutions for his clients' online-marketing campaigns. Through his strategic counsel, national and local brands become better equipped to target and reach niche consumers for increased leads and sales. In addition to his ClickZ columns, additional columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive. In 2013, Stewart was recognized with the ClickZ Hall of Fame award.

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