Google has announced that it will offer free Google Shopping listings for merchants through the Surfaces across Google program. What does this mean for your business? We are still in the early stages of our research, but our experience as an industry leader in e-commerce suggests that this offer will significantly increase adoption of the emerging platform (in the U.S. and globally).
Here’s what we know — and what we’re anticipating — about the upcoming weeks and months:
In the United States, the Shopping tab will now offer organic Shopping listings that are free of charge, as well as promoted listings at the top and bottom of the page for paying advertisers.
In addition to paying for Google Shopping ads, merchants will have the ability to display organic product listings free of charge on the Shopping tab.
Absolutely! The main search engine results page (SERP), where the majority of Google Shopping clicks happen, is remaining unchanged. To boot, an effective marketing strategy will account for the increase in competition as well as profit margin and lifetime value. This is essential to achieving the best results in this new competitive landscape.
Merchants with existing product feeds in Google Merchant Center are automatically eligible for participation in Surfaces across Google. You can find instructions on setting up the platform here.
Setup and Monitor the Essentials
Robust product titles and descriptions, high-quality images and populated product data attributes are more vital than ever. The better the quality of the feed, the better the ranking and placement will be! For our Exclusive Feeds clients, we will help optimize and monitor feed quality while anticipating and resolving any data issues that may come up.
If you are not an Exclusive Feeds client and you’re concerned about your feed data quality, or if you do not have a feed and want to take advantage of these free listings (which is highly recommended), please reach out to us.
How Does Reporting Work?
Reporting for organic product listings on the Shopping Tab and other Google surfaces will be available in the Performance report within Google Search Console as well as within the Performance section in Google Merchant Center.
To adapt to this change, we’re working closely with our Google representatives and proactively monitoring data quality and Shopping performance.
Want to hear directly from our team of shopping and Feeds experts on the impact of this change and more? Attend our upcoming Google Shopping webinar on Wednesday, May 6, at 2 p.m. ET.
With containment efforts for the coronavirus ranging from social distancing to quarantining, our hearts and minds are focused on how we can all do our part to protect ourselves and our communities. Our role – amidst all of this – is to help you maintain the health of your business. That means looking for new sales-growth opportunities when others aren’t and identifying proactive measures to prevent performance slips.
To help our clients overcome challenges like these, we’ve been monitoring the emerging e-commerce trends that will reshape the competitive landscape for the foreseeable future. And we’re here to share our business perspective on the silver linings in all of this:
COVID-19 Paid Advertising Macro Trends
Macro trends are showing that this is the time to expand your marketing efforts on Google Shopping, Amazon and Facebook. With people staying at home as much as they can, time spent browsing online is dramatically rising and e-commerce is showing growth where other areas of business are struggling, if not completely shutting down. Adjust your marketing strategy accordingly and you’ll be able to maximize revenue while others remain stagnant (or worse). We’ve got the numbers to prove it.
Let’s talk through the changes that can help you increase revenue and return on Google, Amazon and Facebook:
According to SEM Rush, Amazon’s paid traffic had decreased 29% on March 15, when compared to February 15, with a steep downward trend forming. Amazon is clearly reducing its sizable ad spend on the Google Shopping side of things, creating a lower CPC while freeing up more impressions.
Additionally, mid-way through March, Amazon only had 1.4 million active PLA Ads on Google, which is their lowest number since February 2019.
What Kinds of Results are Our Clients Seeing?
The WHO officially declared a pandemic the week of March 9.
That week, our clients saw a 23.4% YoY increase in revenue compared to the same week last year. Winning categories included business and industrial, food and beverage, health and wellness, animal and pet supplies, healthcare, medical, office, and school supplies, hardware, automotive, home and garden, furniture, and others. We’ll be sharing trends and insights weekly moving forward to help you benchmark your performance against others.
Client Case Study (Industry: Health/Supplements)
Regarding the expanding pandemic-related industries in particular, a health/supplement client of ours saw record-setting growth on Google Shopping, which is pretty typical for sellers providing daily necessities. Here are the details:
This was all enabled by pivoting to a more sophisticated automation strategy instead of a “set and forget” approach. EXCLUSIVE analyzed the keywords that were converting most effectively in mobile versus desktop, and then created targeted ROAS campaigns for each to steer the Google algorithm toward prioritizing budget on keywords that will ultimately grow revenue.
What We Recommend on Google
Monitor your campaigns closely to make sure you’re capitalizing on these opportunities, and when increasing ad spend, make sure to consider the appropriate bid strategy. Will you use full automation (be cautious: if you set a target and can easily get there, know that Google will drive a percentage of your budget to longtail or mobile where it may not be as efficient)? Will you apply target ROAS or manual bidding? If you’d like to chat with us about these approaches, then don’t hesitate; this is what we do for hundreds of clients, day in and day out.
The takeaway? If Amazon has been competing hard in your industry on Google Ads for years, you may have new opportunities to:
This reduction in Amazon’s ad spend is creating a vacuum in Google Text and Shopping Ads alike. The only question is: Will you fill this vacuum or will your competitors?
A sporting goods client of ours in a highly competitive niche, with a lengthy sales cycle and higher average selling price (ASP) stepped up to take advantage of this growth opportunity.
The EXCLUSIVE team has delivered a consistent 6:1 ROAS that first dipped on March 8 to 4:1 due to the initial quarantine efforts in several areas, but that quickly rebounded to the usual 6:1 as of March 18. Why? This smooth recovery is a result of increased traffic and impressions of people shopping online, and quickly adjusting their campaign tactics accordingly.
Pre-pandemic, Amazon was already a leader for sales growth and making the most of your marketing dollar. Now, competition is at an all-time low for non-essential/discretionary-spending industries such as automotive, sporting goods, apparel and lighting because Amazon is dialing back in those categories to focus on fulfilment and reprioritize its outlays. Cost-per-click is going down as a result and that means you can see better ROAS, too.
What Kinds of Results are Our Clients Seeing?
As an example of what to expect in high-demand industries like those mentioned before, we have a client in the industrial supplies category whose performance is increasing across the board for sanitizing products, bathroom tissue paper and home office supplies. While we’re thrilled with the success that they’ve been seeing, in order to help satisfy demand, we’ve also been partnering extremely closely with our contacts to manage inventory so that we can maintain revenue and profit for them into the future.
While it’s easy to sell raincoats in a downpour, we’ve also been able to generate sizable returns in both on- and off-trend industries.
Client Case Study (Industry: Cleaning Supplies)
Client Case Study (Industry: Home)
What We Recommend on Amazon
Timing is essential here, but the current competitive landscape, with its reduced competition and lower ACOS figures, should mean one thing to forward-looking business leaders: opportunity. That is to say, opportunity to meet demand from customers who have limited options to procure the products they – and their families – need, and an opportunity to generate the revenue your business needs to sustain itself and your people.
Our Amazon How To Guide is a solid reference for those of you looking for direction on how to take on this marketplace or how to increase your presence, but if you do nothing else, focus on these two things:
As always, EXCLUSIVE is here to help. Requesting your free analysis is a good place to start.
Yes, we all want to take advantage of the impressions surge in the market right now, but let’s all be smart marketers and remember that remarketing is the best place to start, since you’ll always see better conversion rates when speaking to an audience that’s been to your website or bought from you before. This is especially true on Facebook, where impressions and clicks are swelling, but conversion rates on ads served to cold audiences aren’t necessarily following suit.
If you don’t have enough of a base for remarketing or you have the budget to grow and drive adoption or create loyalty for your brand (which should also pay off in the long run), you can take advantage of increased mobile and desktop screen time with cold audience marketing strategies. A free e-commerce analysis from EXCLUSIVE can help inform your decision when choosing between tactics such as custom intent, in-market and affinities.
What Kinds of Results are Our Clients Seeing?
We believe the following stats show that now can be the perfect time to test and grow your social advertising strategy and win customers for life.
What We Recommend on Facebook
Getting quality, data-backed insights during trying times, especially early on, isn’t always easy. Fortunately, we’ve had the privilege of being one of Facebook’s Marketing Partners for years and they’ve shared some compelling insights and recommendations that we thought were worthwhile to pass along. Digesting this data and factoring it into your strategy can enable you to make the exact adjustments that are necessary for the climate. According to Facebook’s survey:
The top concerns among consumers about the COVID-19 situation are:
How consumer behaviors change in the context of COVID-19:
The gates have been opened for opportunities to reach this increased traffic online, with even fewer ad dollars than before. Whether it’s Amazon, Facebook or Google – you may have an affinity – remember to consider the Golden Rules of Marketing:
The opportunity is certainly there and we promise: if you’re thoughtful in your strategy, approach and campaign-setup, you’ll give your company the best chance of sustaining itself in the short-term while positioning for the recovery as we emerge from this pandemic.
For those of you in key categories, you may be seeing significant success, but that certainly comes with its complexities as well (inventory management, fulfillment, transparent communications with customers, and building out demand-based projections). If you’re in these key categories: pet, health, food, beverage, baby and home, now is the ideal time to double down on your current efforts, not just winning the first sale, but thinking about how to turn these new customers into loyal customers.
Why Might EXCLUSIVE be the Partner You Need to Survive and Thrive?
We’ve been steadfast in our ability to create smart digital marketing strategies and deliver results that ride out crises, big and small, for 23 years. We’ve helped thousands of ecommerce clients – through H1N1, the recession of 2007-2008 and other challenges – and I’m sure this will not be the last storm we weather together.
To paraphrase a recent Bain article, when the stakes are the highest in sports, “smart teams shorten the bench.” In business, that means promoting your hero products and selecting only the best players to lead the charge. We’re the team that will be resourceful, resilient and relentless in enabling your business to make the most of this trying time, whether that be in organic search, paid advertising or conversion. We’re here!
Please consider booking a time and we can have an honest conversation about the current state of your business and, together, come up with a plan that we can then execute flawlessly for you. Don’t feel like you’re in this alone! We’re here.
Logan Durant has been with Exclusive Concepts for nearly a decade. He is currently the VP of Client Strategy.