Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Research shows link between paid search and product listings

The MediaPost News website has reported on new research by comScore which indicates that paid search rankings purchased by brands helps to improve product sales on retail sites. The results show that after searching for a product on a retail website, most shoppers will click the top results on the page and about 94% of shoppers click on the first 10 products to look for lower prices, key product features and preferred brands.

The article reports that the study aimed to determine whether search-ranking position secures a higher percentage of clicks. Since paid search through AdWords supports the core of Google's business model, the research wanted to discover if that business model carried through to retail site search and whether premium positions in search rankings drive a higher percentage of click share.

It turns out that consumers are twice as likely to use the site search box to find additional product category, brand or model information as to browse the initial landing page. While shoppers tend to vary the order, retail websites and search engines are typically either the first or the second step in the shopping process. The study suggests that retail websites are used as a source of price and brand options, promotions and sales. Many purchases also look for customer and expert reviews, price, and recommendations.

Landing listings at the top of the search ranking make it easier for consumers to find information about a company's products and services, and two-thirds of shoppers compare product and price information or read product descriptions on retail websites before making purchases. But while many begin the shopping process online, nearly half still purchase offline.

Although more consumers are beginning the process online, shoppers still want to see, touch and interact with the products in a physical store prior to purchase. Consumers turn to the online channel for ease of comparison, 61%; breadth of information, 47%; and convenience, 51%, while 62% of consumers admit that the physical stores provide the tactile in-person experience.

Of those shoppers who purchase offline, 57% say pricing is one of the main motivators for purchasing online, followed by free shipping at 57%, promotions and discounts at 50%, and item availability at 32%.

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Friday, 23 July 2010

Google relaunches a new look Image Search

Google has announced some significant changes to its Image Search tool. First launched in 2001 the image database has grown from 250 million images to over 10 billion images now. Over this time the search tool has been enhanced to improve the search results and to include different search filters, such as images of clip art, line drawings, faces and even different colour themes.

In addition, Google's sophisticated computer vision technology powers the “Similar images” tool to recognise similar patterns and images or “Similar colors” refinement which returns images with the core image area containing the similar colour content. However, with the developments going on at Microsoft's Bing search engine, Google also has to keep up with, or ahead of, the game, and is now making further enhancements to the image search results.

The most obvious change is a new tiled layout which removes the content around each image and makes it easier to view lots of images at once. There's also instant scrolling between pages, with up to 1,000 images, all in one scrolling page. The thumbnail previews on the results page are also larger and a hover pane now appears when users mouse over an image, providing a larger preview and more information about the image.

Once users click on an image, they're taken to a new landing page that displays a large image in context, with the website it’s hosted on visible right behind it. By clicking anywhere outside the image users are taken right onto the original page where the image was located.

Google has also announced a new ad format for PPC advertisers, called Image Search Ads. These ads appear only on Google Images and let advertisers include a thumbnail image alongside the standard lines of text - a good option for companies selling products that benefit from a visual approach.

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Facebook reaches 500m users

Another major milestone has been reached by Facebook, the social networking giant. As covered by many global media sites, including the BBC, Facebook has announced that it has now registered its 500 millionth member. In addition, the site has also gained around 100 million new users in the last six months.

As the site continues to expand around the world, largely through word of mouth, the rapid increase in users is expected to reach the next milestones of 750m users, and then 1 billion, in the next few years. Despite recent concerns about privacy on the site, it is clear that many people are not deterred and are either testing the site for themselves or becoming active users.

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Monday, 19 July 2010

Google announces acquisition of Metaweb

Google has announced that it has acquired Metaweb, a company that maintains "an open database of things in the world". Central to Metaweb's products is Freebase, a free and open database of over 12 million items, including movies, books, TV shows, celebrities, locations, companies and more. Google plans to use this content to improve search beyond words by an understanding of the relationships between real-world entities that can help to deliver relevant information more quickly.

With features like rich snippets and the search answers feature, Google says that they are still just beginning to apply an understanding of the web to make search better. By using the technology developed by Metaweb, Google wants to make search more effective by developing semantic search which will be able to provide better answers.

Google says that they want to maintain Freebase as a free and open database, as well as further develop this tool with the Metaweb team to make it a richer online resource that will also benefit from third-party developers using the open source platform to improve the service.

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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Mobile ads promoting social networking sites

An article by MediaPost reports on a recent report by comScore in June which identified social networking as the fastest-growing content category across both mobile browsers and applications. This expansion comes as no great surprise, given that there are estimated to be 100 million people worldwide accessing Facebook on mobile devices.

Further data from mobile ad network Millennial Media claims that there has been a 50% rise in mobile ad campaigns that send users to multiple social networking sites in the last six months. Overall, 12% of campaigns direct people to social sites as a call to action within ads, which is a higher proportion than those sending users to mobile commerce sites or store locator maps.

The report says that whilst mobile advertisers are increasingly trying to drive users to brand pages or promotions on social sites, click-to-call remains the most common type of action they encourage in ads at 36%, followed by signing up for a service (29%), submitting a form (28%), application download (24%) and watching a video (23%).

Other data covered by the Millennial report show that the number of ad requests per page view was just over one (1.03) and the average monthly page views per user was 108. The average session time was up by a minute to five minutes.

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Friday, 2 July 2010

Google AdWords introduces keyword diagnosis tool

In another new enhancement, Google AdWords has announced an improved keyword diagnosis tool that gives advertisers the chance to see detailed diagnostic information for multiple keywords at once. This can be accessed from the Keywords tab in an AdWords account using the "More actions" menu and "Diagnose keywords."

Within this new keyword diagnosis menu, advertisers have all the same options that were previously available in the standalone Ads Diagnostic Tool. However, this new enhancement now display the diagnosis information included as real-time results within the Status column next to each keyword. If the keyword is working well then "Ad showing" will be displayed, but if there are any problems then a brief summary is provided to help advertisers fix the issue (such as "Low bid or quality score").

To get more details on a keyword's status, users are able to hover over any speech bubble icon which may display Quality Score issues or other factors that are preventing the ad from showing. Google recommends that to focus on one issue at a time, advertisers should try creating filters for Keyword Status.

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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Web marketing newsletter published for July

The new issue of our monthly Web Search & Marketing newsletter has been published for July, covering some of the recent stories on web search and online marketing trends.

This month's edition looks at Google's recent launch of new AdWords reports in Google Analytics and how these allow users to measure what happens after people click on sponsored listings within the search results.

It also reviews how Microsoft's Bing search engine has made some progress in its first year in terms of search market share and what effect this has had upon Google's dominance. Finally the newsletter considers the new report formats in Google AdWords and, in particular, how the Impression Share data can be used to develop a pay-per-click advertising campaign.

If you want to sign up for future issues of this newsletter, please do so by using the form at the bottom of this page. To view back issues of this regular newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.

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