“Prime Day halo effect and 6 other trends to watch for back-to-school search marketing - Search Engine Land” plus 1 more
Posted: 24 Jul 2019 10:50 AM PDT
Amazon Prime Day is the hard start to the back-to-school shopping season – this year more than ever.
But the bigger trend is that Prime Day is no longer confined to Amazon. It pervades the entire retail industry, with shopping interest heightening across multiple marketing channels.
Including Google search.
My colleagues and I took a look at some of the biggest trends influencing back-to-school search marketing, from Prime Day and its halo effect, to newer Google Ad formats and targeting capabilities. Here are some results of Prime Day's impact in the Google search channel, what they mean for the coming weeks and other major trends to capitalize on this back-to-school season and beyond.
1. Prime Day led to high search interest on Google
It's no surprise Prime Day hype reached a new high this year, and Google Trends demonstrates it. Google Trend scores are relative to one another, meaning a 100 – which occurred during this year's Prime Day week – represents the peak popularity of a search term over a period of time. Relatively speaking, searches for "Prime Day deals" on Google were 26 percent less popular in 2018.
We also analyzed several hundred retailers' Google Shopping impressions during June and July 2019 and compared them year over year to further understand the impact of Prime Day on Google search interest.
During the two weeks prior to Prime Day (which was July 1-14 in 2019, and July 2-15 in 2018), we found a 58-percent growth in Google Shopping mobile impressions. For context – that growth was exactly the same in June year over year.
The inflection point came on Prime Day, which ran 48 hours this year and 36 hours last year. Google Shopping mobile impressions grew by 80 percent on the first day of Prime Day 2019 (July 15) compared to the first day of Prime Day 2018 (July 16). The second day of Prime Day saw an 84 percent increase in mobile impressions year over year.
Desktop/tablet growth was even more pronounced, jumping from a modest 18 percent growth before Prime Day, to 40 percent and 47 percent respectively over the two-day sale.
2. The Prime Day halo effect creates opportunity in Google search
Why the increased search interest on Google, when Amazon was the behemoth running the sale? Consumers could have been price checking on Google Shopping (activity perhaps accelerated by Amazon's recently revised price parity clause). Consumers also could have been seeing if products were available in a store nearby. Or, consumers were searching for discounted products offered by the many retailers that ran their own promotions during Prime Day.
This is further evidence that Prime Day transcends Amazon. The halo effect is creating heightened shopping interest across other channels, including Google search. As a result, retailers offering back-to-school products, as well as many other types of products, may see higher impressions in Google Ads over the next couple weeks as consumers continue to search for items that caught their eye during Prime Day, but didn't purchase. The coming weeks also might deliver strong performance for retargeting campaigns you have running.
Additionally, July and August are shaping up to be a good time to potentially carry out dry runs for certain year-end holiday promotions, not just back-to-school promotions. Take advantage of the heightened brand awareness and shopping interest. Consider small tests to experiment with various discount amounts, coupon amounts, and promotional ad copy that you'll run more broadly in Q4.
3. Back-to-school is a short and increasingly well-defined season
Prime Day has become the kickoff to the back-to-school season, offering deep discounts for price-conscious parents and students. From there, the seasonal peak continues to arrive early. For instance, for a multinational apparel and accessories brand, we found that July 30 to Aug. 5 was the top seven-day period in 2018 in terms of Google Shopping clicks and conversions for queries containing "backpack."
The season tends to end as abruptly as it starts. For the same brand, the full week of Labor Day in 2018 (Sept. 2-8) saw a conversion rate dropoff of 50 percent on "backpack" terms from its seasonal peak performance.
As the back-to-school season progresses, remember there is less time for a click to convert within this season. That's because Google Ads attributes orders to the click date, not the transaction date.
As always, it's important to get in front of shoppers when they are figuring out what to buy and from where. Once shoppers have picked a retailer, they are likely to skip the search engine altogether, cutting other advertisers out of the equation entirely.
4. Back-to-school remains a frenzied competition
With only a short season to work with and competition fiercer than ever, proactively adjusting your bids is paramount to the success of your seasonal marketing strategy.
You've probably already referred to your performance data from last season as a guiding point for campaign and bidding strategies this year. If you haven't, segment the performance of your top back-to-school products and keywords by day or week from the previous year to predict when performance trends up and down.
A best practice is to use revenue per click as your target KPI, because it considers both the increase in conversion rate and the downshift in average order values that come with heavy promotional periods.
Of course, as investment prospectuses always say, past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Rather, more recent performance (generally 30 days) of your top queries and products should be the base off which you build your predictive bid adjustments. Factors like inventory, product mix, competitive landscape, and changes to Google's algorithm can have massive implications on performance year to year. Keep an eye on the future, but stay firmly planted in the now.
5. Electronics and clothing will be top sellers – but know which parts of YOUR catalog will be most in demand
A well-groomed Google Ads account is the key to dominating seasonality. Within Shopping, make sure you are setting up your campaigns, ad groups, or product groups to isolate your top back-to-school items. The top two expenses for back-to-school shoppers this year will be clothing and accessories, and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation. That said, review your past performance to pinpoint which items in your catalog will be most in demand.
If your product feed doesn't have the most accurate or descriptive product types, consider using a custom label to tag your seasonal products. The more granular your bidding structure, the more control you have over which products you promote.
Within text ads, your campaigns are hopefully already grouped into themes. Rather than apply blanket adjustments to all your campaigns, bid up more selectively on keyword groups that represent your bestselling back-to-school products. Don't forget to update your ad copy and landing pages for the season, especially if you are running promos or have created new seasonal site pages.
To get more advanced, consider creating a separate campaign for back-to-school keywords, so you can quickly and easily modify your spending on those terms after the Labor Day weekend dropoff.
6. Back-to-school search terms are likely to trigger Showcase Shopping ads
As I've shared in the past, Google continues to chip away at traditional shopping ads that display for broad queries on mobile. The replacement is the more visually engaging Showcase Shopping ad. This trend accelerated prior to the holiday season last year, meaning this is the first back-to-school shopping season where Showcase ads will be a major traffic driver.
Here's a look at Showcase Shopping ad impressions for a sample of several hundred retailers over the past 18 months:
Search terms like "school supplies," "backpacks," and "kids apparel" are likely to trigger Showcase Shopping ads now. If you're not in the Showcase game, you're essentially missing out on all the impressions Google's algorithm is now deciding should trigger a Showcase ad carousel. Check out these Showcase Shopping how-to's I've shared on Search Engine Land for help on navigating the format.
7. Back-to-school is a key use case for Detailed Demographics
Back-to-school is also a good time to use Google's Detailed Demographics with your shopping campaigns. Of particular interest during this season is the segment for parents—broken down by parents of infants (0-1), toddlers (1-3), preschoolers (4-5), grade-schoolers (6-12), and teens (13-17).
If your catalog spans all these age groups as well as adults without kids, it might make sense to segment your campaigns or ad groups by demographic targets, to hone in on the products most relevant to each audience.
Back to school, back to holiday planning
Once back-to-school reaches its end in September, the year-end holidays will enter the consumer conscience. Drive the best performance from your back-to-school campaigns now, while starting to shift your time into holiday planning mode. More to come in my column as the holiday season nears.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
Posted: 21 Jul 2019 05:30 AM PDT
For amateur photographers and family memoirists, the most dreaded event is losing track of a photo shoot — or more than one. Memory cards, hard drives, even desktop programs can fail, so a cloud backup plan is always optimal. To make sure your photo collection is always safe, redundancy is the name of the game, and one of the best places for redundant photo storage in the mainstream consumer market is Google Photos. Google Photos offers free unlimited storage for photos up to 16GB alongside a paid option for higher quality storage. Output from most consumer smartphones, and even many digital cameras, will weigh in at that amount or lower.
While you could certainly buy space on Apple's iCloud or Flickr Pro, Google Photos will store your photos in the cloud automatically for free, and even throws in some extremely cool automated extras — all linked to your Google account. In addition to storing and making your photos easily accessible and shareable, Google also uses artificial intelligence image analysis to organize your photos and videos, making them easier to search and edit.
So what do you have to do to get in on the action? If you do not already have a Google account, you first need to open one, get a Gmail address, and sign in with a password. After you've done that, here's how to seamlessly back up your photo collection with Google Photos for mobile and desktop.
Install the Google Photos app
Also download Google's Backup & Sync app for your Mac or Windows computer to program the app to automatically sync images and other files from your computer to the online Photos app. Once launched, the app lives in the top menu bar on your desktop and you control it via Preferences.
Access mobile settings for Backup & Sync
Launch Google photos on your iOS or Android phone and choose Settings from the top menu and then choose Backup & Sync. This critical setting is actually three for one. First, enable auto backup and then set the upload size. High Quality stores an unlimited number of images and videos up to 16 megapixels for free, and that is the right setting for most people. Anything over 16 megapixels will be compressed in the cloud, but not on your desktop or device. If you want to store original, full resolution images, it will count against your free Google quota of 15GB, and you will have to pay for extra storage beyond that. While some of the new consumer point and shoots or mirrorless cameras shoot at resolutions higher than 16 megapixels, that size is plenty big for most non-professional purposes, including printing.
Choose a backup route
You can choose to upload assets through your data plan or via Wi-Fi only. If you have an unlimited cellular plan, you don't have to worry. But if you have a data cap, disable the cell settings so uploads take place only over Wi-Fi. To enable the backup, you must tap on and launch the mobile app. As soon as you do that, the app starts to sync with your Gallery or Camera Roll to upload all the pictures you snapped (and screenshots) since the last time you launched the app. The app automatically launches to the Photos pane and you will see a notation at the top of the screen telling you when your sync is complete. You can then search for images by subject or content. The app shows you results, which can be either albums or individual images, with information derived from your app's geolocation.
Photos: View, search, and edit photos
When your photos and videos have been synced, you get four major panes to navigate through your collection: Photos, Albums, Assistant, and Sharing. In the Photos pane, images and videos are arranged in date order. Use pinch and zoom gestures to see images by date or view images in thumbnail, small, medium, and large sizes, so that one photo takes up the whole screen. In full screen mode, you can edit your photo by applying built-in filters, adjusting hue and lightness, and cropping to change aspect ratio or transform.
Albums: Image organization
The Albums icon at the bottom of the mobile app reveals the People, Places, Things, Videos, Collages, Animations and Videos views, breaking down the content of your images to help you quickly search and find the shots you're looking for.
The People module (to which you can also add pets) uses facial recognition technology to group people together, and try to match different shots to different faces. The tech did an impressive job of recognizing faces shot decades apart. The Places module groups images according to their location-enabled GPS. Things relies on object recognition to place objects in categories from skyscrapers to ducks to cats to churches to whatever it is you shot. The Videos cluster puts all your videos together and lets you play, download, share, add to an album, loop, archive, or trash the video. The desktop interface is similar to the mobile one.
The Assistant — which is a lot easier to see on the desktop than on your phone — gives you all sorts of automated goodies that you can accept or reject, from gathering images or videos into a collage, adding a filter style, creating an animation from a burst of photos, or making a movie of your stills. Some ideas make sense, others are less than intelligent, but you don't have to accept any of Google's bright ideas if you don't want to. Alongside the Assistant auto-creations, you can make original albums, photo books, and collages. Sharing gives you options to share your creation with specific people or on social media.
Desktop versions are integrated
If you have set up a Google account on your computer, you just need to choose your Google bookmark to access all of Google's services, including Photos. As your phone syncs with the site, you will immediately see all of your uploaded photos regardless of which computer you use. The setup is through the Google website, so the interface for both Mac and Windows is virtually identical. What you see on your computer monitor is more or less replicated by the content on your smartphone.
Google Photos is a great, free way to back up your images in the cloud and get a few photographic perks and conveniences in the bargain. Both mobile and desktop apps are easy to use with recognizable interfaces spanning both platforms. While not long on editing tools, there's just enough to get your photo or video presentable before sharing with the world.
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