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Keep the lights on for the last-minute shopper this December

Would it surprise you to hear that we see 34% more shopping searches on Christmas Day than on Black Friday1? That’s just one of the eye-opening consumer trends we’re watching closely now that the 2017 holiday season is in full swing.

With mobile, shoppers know they can easily find and get what they’re looking for up until the last minute. So, despite all of the improvements retailers have made to shipping speed and product availability, many people still wait to buy. That means that a lot of December’s holiday shopping happens right before—and even after—Christmas, giving more reason for retailers to continue to drive store traffic from online and offline media throughout the season.

Early birds they are not

Retailers may be pushing their holiday deals earlier and earlier, but some shoppers are still waiting longer and longer, weighing their options to make their final choices.

When shoppers consider a new purchase, they spend 13 days on average shopping for the item. But once they decide to buy, almost half expect it either the same day or the next day2. In fact, mobile searches related to “same day shipping” have grown 120% since 20153.

It’s no wonder, then, that we see online conversions from the week before December’s shipping cutoff date on par with the the week of Cyber Monday4, as holiday shoppers make a last-ditch effort to get their presents sent to their doorstep.

Once shipping cutoff hits, last-minute shoppers make a mad dash

The last week before Christmas is crazy busy, of course, but it’s also very local. Around Dec. 21, when the online shipping cutoff passes, shoppers increasingly turn to their hometown stores to get what they need.

Regardless of which day of the week Christmas falls, the in-store holiday rush starts on the Friday one full week before Christmas. The Saturday after that is typically the second-busiest day of December. The busiest day of all in the last month of the year? That’s Dec. 23, regardless of what day of the week it falls on5.

Searches for “where to buy” peak on Dec. 23 as last-minute shoppers grab their final gifts and stocking stuffers. Some popular examples: “where to buy Cards Against Humanity?”, “where to buy Yeti Cups?”, and even “where to buy coal?”6

‘Where to buy’ searches in 2016

Meanwhile, mobile searches for “open now” and “store hours” grow through December and peak on Christmas Day. That includes searches like, “what stores are open near me on Christmas?”, “what grocery stores are open on Christmas?” and “what stores are open right now?”7

This year, retailers have an edge: With Christmas on a Monday, there are two full weekends (Dec. 15-17 and 22-24) in the 10 days before the holiday. This bodes well for store traffic with shoppers out in force on Fridays and Saturdays.

The takeaway? With people turning to stores at the last minute, be sure to highlight your local products for the best chance at drawing shoppers to your door. Check out our Shopping best practices guide to learn how you can drive traffic to your store this holiday season.

Christmas may be over, but the shopping isn’t

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just as busy as every other day in December (other than Christmas week itself). For general shopping queries (such as “shopping near me” or “store hours”), we see 34% more searches on Christmas Day than we do on Black Friday. Though searches for “where to buy” increase up until Dec. 23, the queries recover to pre-Christmas week levels and stay steady for the final week of the year8.

And this post-Christmas shopping busyness isn’t just happening online. In fact, last year we saw about 20% of all December store traffic happen in the six days after Christmas9. And why is that? With searches for “clearance” spiking on December 2610, shoppers are likely looking to redeem gift cards, make returns and exchanges, find gifts for people they haven’t seen yet, or decide to “gift” themselves a little extra.

Aggregate store traffic vs. toy stores and video game stores in 2016
Green: Aggregate store traffic | Dark blue: Toy stores | Light blue: Video game stores

While Black Friday is still a major in-store shopping day for some categories, such as electronics and furniture, many specialty stores see more foot traffic leading up to, and after, Christmas Day than on Black Friday. In 2016, toy stores and bookstores, for example, saw the most foot traffic of the holiday season on Dec. 23, while video game stores saw their busiest holiday shopping day on Dec. 2611.

Mobile has fundamentally changed the way holiday shoppers complete their lists. They expect to be able to find what they want, when they want it. And that means holiday shopping is happening right before—and even after—Christmas. That’s a big opportunity for marketers who keep the lights on even after Santa slides through.

For more holiday insights, be sure to check out Think with Google.

Posted by Emily Eberhard, Head of Shopping B2B Marketing at Google


1. Google Data, U.S., Nov.-Dec. 2016.
2. Google/Ipsos Fall Shopping Study, n=4,720, U.S., Sept. 2017, High Consideration Purchases.
3. Google Data, U.S., Jan.-June 2017 vs. Jan.-June 2015.
4. Google Analytics, Based on data from Google Analytics accounts that have authorized Google to share website data in an aggregate way, Shopping vertical only, Nov.-Dec. 2016.
5. Google Data, Aggregated, anonymized store traffic from a sample of U.S. users that have turned on Location History, U.S., Nov.-Dec. 2015 and 2016.
6. Google Data, U.S., Nov.-Dec. 2016.
7. Google Data, U.S., Nov.-Dec. 2016.
8. Google Data, U.S., Nov.-Dec. 2016.
9. Google Data, Aggregated, anonymized store traffic from a sample of U.S. users that have turned on Location History, U.S., Nov.-Dec. 2015 and 2016.
10. Google Data, U.S., Dec. 2016
11. Google Data, Aggregated, anonymized store traffic from a sample of U.S. users that have turned on Location History, U.S., Nov.-Dec. 2015 and 2016.

Product ratings on Shopping ads now available globally

Since we introduced product ratings, we’ve been working on new ways to help you gather feedback about your products and drive more qualified traffic to your site. Today, we’re making product ratings available in all markets where Google Shopping is present.

Product ratings appear in the form of stars and review counts on Shopping ads. This 5-star rating system represents aggregated review data for the product, compiled from multiple sources including merchants, third-party aggregators, editorial sites and users.

How to enable product ratings on Shopping ads

If you have a Merchant Center account for your store, you’ve already taken the first step towards displaying Product Ratings. Once you sign up and satisfy the program requirements, you can begin uploading Product Ratings feeds to your Merchant Center account. Alternatively, you may want to work with one of our approved third-party aggregators.

Additionally, you can now collect reviews about the products you sell through Google Customer Reviews. Whenever your shoppers complete a purchase, we’ll ask them about their shopping experience with your store, as well as the product they purchased. The reviews collected about their shopping experience will contribute to your seller rating and, the product reviews collected can make you eligible to show product ratings. To learn more about how to use Google Customer Reviews to collect product reviews, see here.

Learn More

The product rating program is now available globally. For more information, please visit our Help Center.

Posted by Naga Hariharan, Google Shopping Product Manager

Win over more users with a new playable ad format in Universal App campaigns

The holiday season is upon us, and millions of consumers around the world are looking forward to unwrapping their new devices and downloading their favorite apps. People have so many choices when it comes to apps, so it’s critical for you to capture their attention and give them a reason to engage with your app.

That’s why we’re rolling out HTML5 playable ads in Universal App campaigns (UAC)—so users can quickly spin a wheel, score a point or jump into level two, right from the ad.

Playtika gets more people in the game

To show how playable ads in UAC benefit game developers and app marketers, let’s take a look at how Playtika, a leading mobile gaming company, used this format to reach more users for its game: House of Fun. People can spin a wheel directly in the ad and experience the thrill of the game before downloading. This gives game lovers a sense of how the game works, and what it takes to win, before installing.

After introducing interactive and engaging playable ads and testing multiple creative formats, Playtika increased its return on ad spend (ROAS) by 1.8X.

According to Nir Schlaen, Marketing Team Leader, “We want to put Playtika’s games in the hands of more potential players at scale…We’ve found that playables drive more engagement and long-term customer value because users have already had a taste of the game.”

Here are three tips to help you get started with playable ads in UAC.

1. Make it short and sweet: Keep playable content short and engaging so that users don’t choose to skip your ad. We recommend that your ad be between 30-60 seconds long. Tailor the length for your app; it can vary depending on vertical and complexity of the ad. And gameplay in the ad should be easier to complete than in the actual game.

2. Be engaging but accurate: Make sure to include how you want users to interact with your ad into its design. This starts with a good first impression. Focus on the aspects of your game that capture people’s attention and gets players to come back. Set clear user expectations by including clear instructions and captions about how gameplay works—for example “swipe to scroll” and “shake your phone to jump”.

3. Have a clear call to action: This is your chance to summarize your game and to encourage users to play the full version by downloading your app. As an example, “Enjoyed playing? Download now to beat level two.” It’s important to make the call to action as clear as possible with a clickable area for a smooth transition into your game.

We’re committed to innovating on Universal App campaigns—playable ads as the most recent addition. To learn more about how to make the most of UAC check out our best practices.

Posted by Sissie Hsiao, VP of Product, Mobile App Advertising at Google

Google Manufacturer Center rolls out international expansion, API updates, and new content discovery opportunities to help you better showcase your brand online

With the launch of self-sign up earlier this year, thousands of top brands and manufacturers have already begun using Google Manufacturer Center to enhance their product’s images, descriptions and variants in Shopping ads. Today, we’re excited to announce new ways to help brands — both in the US and abroad — manage their data more easily and provide a more consistent brand experience on Google and across the web.

Manufacturer Center expands to more countries

To help brands abroad, we’ve expanded availability for Manufacturer Center to the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Brazil, and the Netherlands. Now, brands with products sold in these markets can use Manufacturer Center to best represent their products to shoppers, access unique analytics and insights, and improve the performance of Shopping ads featuring their products.

Increase opportunities to highlight your products’ best features and benefits

Shoppers are constantly looking for information, trying to ensure the product they ultimately choose is the perfect fit for their needs. Information from Manufacturer Center now appears in Google Knowledge Panels in the US, highlighting core product features to shoppers at key decision making stages. With descriptions, images, features and more directly supplied by you, the manufacturer, shoppers will be better informed and feel more confident choosing your branded products.

Manage product information programmatically with the Manufacturer Center API

We know that manually uploading, editing, deleting, and distributing product data can make it difficult to keep up with a brand’s ever-changing product assortment, and using feeds may not offer the desired level of control. With the launch of the Manufacturer Center API, brands (or their 3rd party data partners) can streamline product data updates in the following ways:

  • Add new products directly to Manufacturer Center.
  • Update existing products in Manufacturer Center with the most current product data.
  • Delete products from an existing Manufacturer Center account.
  • Monitor data quality and review product data errors to optimize a brand’s presence on Google.
  • Surface Google’s product data feedback in external data management tools.
  • Streamline product data updates and syndication to Google by creating custom workflows compliant with data management policies and procedures.

To get started with the Manufacturer Center API, check out the Developer’s Guide and Portal article here.

To learn more about Manufacturer Center, to read success stories, and to sign up, visit our website.

Posted by Limor David, Product Manager, Google Shopping

Holiday shoppers are in the driver’s seat — here’s what they’re looking for on Black Friday, and beyond

In those spare moments between basting the turkey, assembling gingerbread houses, and planning your ugly-sweater party, you might find yourself reaching for your phone to research holiday gifts you still need to buy. You’re not alone: With information readily available at the swipe of a finger, holiday shoppers are doing more research before buying than ever before. Indeed, mobile searches for “ideas” (i.e., “$25 gift ideas”) have increased by 55 percent over the past two years1. And with new improvements to our knowledge panel on Google.com, we’ve made it even easier for shoppers to quickly find product photos, videos, reviews, descriptions and more.

Armed with mobile devices as their “anywhere” assistants, today’s holiday shoppers are more informed than ever. The result? Promotion-driven shopping events like Black Friday are no longer anchored on a single day. Consumers are now in the driver’s seat—researching to find the best deals of the season before, during, and after Black Friday, and hatching a game plan to determine what, where, and when to buy.

Researching around the clock

With retailers sharing Black Friday deals earlier and earlier, shoppers have a bigger opportunity to make more informed decisions about their purchases. We’re seeing these curious consumers leaning into holiday shopping research with increasing frequency, trading in time spent standing in line for time spent researching everything from door-busting deals to details around specific products.

For example, mobile searches containing “Black Friday” increased by 80% over the past two years (e.g., “when is black friday,” “lowes black friday,” “best black friday deals”)2.

Beyond searching to find more information for Black Friday, people are also researching brands over the holidays. Earlier in November, we see generic, non-branded searches for Black Friday outpacing branded searches (e.g.,”black friday furniture sale” and “black friday makeup deals 2016”). Then, about 2.5 weeks before the four-day weekend, there is a switch to searches for Black Friday becoming mostly branded (e.g., “ashley furniture black friday” and “sephora black friday 2016”) as shoppers narrow down their options and begin laser-focusing their research on the specific items they want to buy.3

And what items are they searching for? We’ve got a good idea. We looked at popular trending products going into Black Friday, and here’s what we saw4:

Creating a game plan

Once shoppers have done their research, they’re shifting their focus to the best way to go about crossing off gifts on their lists—whether that’s in store or online. We see mobile searches for “where to buy” (e.g. “where to buy ugly christmas sweaters” and “where to buy gift boxes”) grew more than 85% over the past two years.5

For Thanksgiving weekend specifically, with large sales happening within a few days of each other, people want to determine the best time to shop. Among the top Black Friday searches, we’re seeing searches for “cyber monday vs black friday,” “which is better black friday or cyber monday,” and “is cyber monday as good as black friday.”6

Purchasing with purpose

Having done the research and determined what they’re getting and where they’re buying it, today’s empowered consumers are deciding exactly when and how they want to purchase. These factors help explain why Black Friday is becoming less important as an anchor in-store shopping holiday.

As proof—and in line with industry reports—we see that foot traffic on Black Friday is declining. In fact, Black Fri-“day” is becoming a weeklong event. During the three-week period leading up to Black Friday, retailers are experiencing a larger percentage of store traffic the week before Black Friday7.


Changes in the concentration of store traffic during the lead up to Black Friday
Source: Google Data, Aggregated, anonymized store traffic from a sample of U.S. users that have turned on Location History, Nov. 2014, 2015 and 2016, U.S. Compared the percentage of store traffic to clothing stores, department stores, electronics stores, toy stores and shopping malls during the three-week period leading up to Black Friday weekend: Nov. 10-30, 2014, Nov. 9-29, 2015, and Nov. 7-27, 2016.

But with all the scrutiny around store traffic on Black Friday, it’s worth noting that online conversions stay steady throughout November, spiking on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, we see that the mobile transaction rate jumps 40% during the Thanksgiving weekend when compared with the rest of the year.8 It’s a sign that mobile researchers are likely to become mobile buyers over the four-day holiday break.

3 tips to reach the empowered holiday shopper this year

Ready to reach shoppers on-the-go as we head into the holidays? Take advantage of these 3 solutions from Google to help you find your next customer, whether they’re searching for ideas, hatching a game plan, or ready to buy:

For more insights into the holidays and beyond, check out Think With Google for the latest shopping trends.

Posted by Emily Eberhard, Head of Shopping Ads Marketing at Google


1. Google Data, US, Jan- Jun 2015 vs. Jan-Jun 2017
2. Google Data, US, October – December 2014 and 2016
3. Google Data, US, November 2016. Search examples are among the top 1000 searches
4. Google Shopping Insights, U.S., all devices, Nov. 1 2016 – Nov. 13, 2017.
5. Source: Google Data, U.S., Jan.-June 2015 vs. Jan.-June 2017.
6. Google Data, US, October – December 2016. Search examples are among the top 10,000 searches
7. Source: Google Data, Aggregated, anonymized store traffic from a sample of U.S. users that have turned on Location History, Nov. 2014, 2015 and 2016, U.S. Compared the percentage of store traffic to clothing stores, department stores, electronics stores, toy stores and shopping malls during the three-week period leading up to Black Friday weekend: Nov. 10-30, 2014, Nov. 9-29, 2015, and Nov. 7-27, 2016.
8. Google Analytics, US, January – December 2016. Based on data from Google Analytics accounts that have authorized Google to share website data in an aggregate way.

New AdWords innovations to drive better results for your business

Consumers are more curious, more demanding, and more impatient than ever—and even more so during the busy holiday season. AdWords has been redesigned to help you reach these mobile-first consumers in faster and easier ways. Today, we’re introducing more innovations available only in the new experience. From promoting your latest offers to finding ways to grow your business, these products can help you save time and boost performance. Learn how some advertisers are seeing an increase in conversion rate and return on ad spend when applying these innovations to their campaigns.

Highlight your top deals with promotion extensions

People are always looking for deals, whether it’s for a discount on holiday gifts or a cheaper flight. In fact, 7 out of 10 internet users look for sales or discounts before visiting a store.1 To help attract these deal-seeking customers with your latest offers, we’re introducing promotion extensions.

Show your latest offers with promotion extensions

Promotion extensions make it easy for you to keep your promotions up to date without the need to create new ads. They also free up the rest of your ad for more unique content, like your brand terms or a clear call to action.

For example, if you’re a shoe store, you might use promotion extensions to show a “30% off” promo code on all Black Friday orders. You can also make these types of seasonal offers more prominent in your ad by selecting one of 12 occasions, like Black Friday or Back-to-school.

Brands like Torrid and Shoe Carnival have already seen great results after using promotion extensions:

Promotion extensions effectively communicate our promotions without sacrificing our core message of quality and fit, giving us a conversion rate lift of 30%.– David Chau, Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Torrid Brands

Promotion extensions give customers even more reason to come to our site and buy–all while raising our ROAS by 20%. This extension should be in every ecommerce advertiser’s toolbox.– Michael Nuss, Director of Digital Marketing at Shoe Carnival

Test drive new ideas with ad variations

Sometimes small changes to your ad text—like adding a touch of holiday spirit or using a different call to action—can dramatically affect performance. That’s why today, we’re rolling out ad variations in the new AdWords experience: a fast and easy way to test changes across your text ads at scale.

For example, you may want to see how “Happy Holidays” performs when used in your text ads. With ad variations, you can test this change across thousands of ads in just a few clicks. In fact, some advertisers have set up variations for more than 1 million ads in less than a minute.2

You’ll then get the test results as soon as they’re statistically significant. If you see that an ad variation is doing well, you can quickly replace all of your original ads with the new variation.

Businesses like Merkle and Agoda are already using ad variations to test, measure, and apply variations that drive better results for their business in less time.

Performance marketing agency Merkle helped their client, a leading online educator, achieve a 13% increase in clicks and a 14% increase in conversions when their ad variations test revealed that expanding their text ads and implementing optimized ad rotations would improve their performance.

With ad variations, we’re able to test ad copy changes across our entire account in just a few minutes, which previously took hours of manual work. This means we get to quickly test ad copy and make improvements that result in better ad performance.– Robert Tayon, Head of PPC at Agoda

Reach the right shoppers with custom intent audiences

Right now, people may be actively shopping for gifts that only you can deliver. To help you reach these I-want-to-buy shoppers, we’re rolling out custom intent audiences for the Google Display Network. Custom intent audiences make it easy for you to reach people who want to buy the specific products you offer–based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel.

For example, if you’re a travel agency offering holiday getaways, Google could automatically create an audience of people shopping for “all-inclusive ski resorts” or “flights to Palm Springs.” We’ll then show you reach and performance estimates for each audience, so you can plan your campaign with precision.

Find new opportunities to grow your business

Looking for more ways to improve campaign performance this holiday season? The Opportunities page now offers more actionable recommendations, relevant insights, and best practices to help you meet your business goals. With manager account support and the ability to filter by category (like “bids & budgets”), your opportunities are clearly organized so you can apply them across all your accounts and campaigns with just a few clicks.

Customers like Mindshare said the improvements on the Opportunities page were very helpful for their business:

The Opportunities page in our manager account lets us quickly identify optimization and efficiency improvements, estimate cost, traffic, and performance impact across multiple markets, and implement them in one click.” – Amy Perkins, Paid Search Account Director, Mindshare

Get started

Log in to the new AdWords experience to start using these innovations and deliver better results for your business.

Posted by Anthony Chavez, Director of Product Management, AdWords


1. Google / Ipsos Connect, How devices connect consumers to stores, March 2016
2. Google internal data, October 2017

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