Advertiser Q&A: Google Showcase Shopping Ads

Advertiser Q&A: Google Showcase Shopping Ads

Google Uncategorized

Google has been beefing up its showcase shopping ads product to help retailers spice up their holiday advertisements. Showcase shopping ads make it possible for businesses to group together related products to merchandise them more effectively. The format is tailored for mobile viewing. Recently Google added new features such as video to make these ads more powerful. At True Interactive, we’ve been applying showcase shopping ads with favorable results. One of our clients running showcase shopping ads has seen an 80-percent higher click-through rate over standard shopping ads. This blog post explains showcase shopping ads based on questions we’ve received.

What exactly are showcase shopping ads?

Showcase shopping ads appear as a collection of shoppable images displaying different products offered by an advertiser. The ads are built to capitalize on broad keyword searches such as “winter sweaters.” The showcase shopping ads work this way:

  • Someone making a non-brand search for, say, winter sweaters will see in their search results display ads from different retailers with winter sweaters and promotional ad copy.
  • When the shopper clicks on the ad, they are taken to a landing page with a merchant’s line of winter sweaters. The shopping ad display, or showcase, resembles a brand page to the user, consisting of products the advertiser wants the user to see.

A shopper may click on an inventory and complete a purchase.

A business can create multiple showcase shopping ads. The header image can be different based on what is uploaded into each showcase shopping ad. In the above example of winter sweaters, a retailer could run a header image that focuses on sweaters but have another header image that focuses on outerwear for a “winter coat” search. The Google algorithm chooses which products appear based on variables such as the product titles, description, and type.

Who is this a good fit for?

It is highly recommended that you have at least 1,000 products in your inventory. There is no minimum budget. The format is effective for anyone who wants to get their products in front of a large audience because it’s based on broad keywords. It’s not for people competing for specific keywords. For bigger advertisers, showcase shopping ads are a good way to display multiple products for broad keywords. You can create an engaging photo and additional messaging that smaller businesses may not be able to afford.

Why is Google beefing up showcase ads?

The main reason Google is pushing showcase ads is that they are optimized for mobile. Salesforce recently predicted that mobile devices would dominate both traffic and orders for the entire 2018 holiday shopping season (68 percent of traffic and 46 percent of orders). On Black Friday alone, retailers saw $2.1 billion in sales from smartphones, accounting for 33.5 percent of Black Friday sales. The rise of mobile reflects broader shopping trends, and Google wants to capture a share of ad revenue associated with mobile shopping by offering a shoppable ad format.

What is the pay model?

The pay format is cost per engagement, not cost per click. The user has to be on the ad for 10 seconds or more, at which time the advertiser is charged. This approach can be a drawback. A click is a specific action. But having a page open for 10 seconds is a passive way to measure user intent. A person may not be really engaged with a product while a screen is open.

Any tips for getting the most out of Google showcase shopping ads?

Yes. Advertisers need to do two things:

  • Ensure all your products are grouped together in an easily findable way.
  • Have your products accurately labeled in each ad group.

Bottom line: Google showcase shopping ads give multiple advertisers a way to showcase multiple products for generic keywords that can otherwise be very expensive. If you compete for generic keywords in a mobile centric world – and who isn’t? – then you should consider Google showcase shopping ads. If you need help getting started or if you are running Google showcase shopping ads and want to take your game to the next level, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Adapting Your PPC Strategy for Voice Search

Adapting Your PPC Strategy for Voice Search

Search Uncategorized

The evolution of artificial intelligence is changing the way people search online. Consumers are constantly connected to devices whether mobile, desktop, or tablet. And people are increasingly using voice search because of the proliferation of personal assistants on these devices such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa. When utilizing voice search capabilities, consumers are exercising a more natural and conversational language, thus altering their search behavior. Consequently, brands need to alter their own behavior, including their strategies for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Since people do not type and speak in the same manner, digital marketers need to understand how their audience relies on voice search in order to be relevant in the era of voice search.

Unfortunately, Google and Bing do not provide a way to pull data regarding voice searches. Voice searches are translated into text and listed as regular search queries. At times you might see, “Siri, can you . . . ” or “OK Google” before a search term, but that’s not always the case. Brands need not wait for technology to advance in order to adapt their PPC campaigns for voice search. Here are a few strategies to consider:


First, evaluate your search queries and look for conversional text. “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” and “How” are great phrases to focus on. Also, pay attention to any long-tail queries that include a natural phrase such as “near me” or “can I get the number for . . . ” Use these queries to understand what consumers want to know about your products or services. You can then gather those learnings to strategize a personal user experience for voice searchers.

People using voice search might seek a different user experience than what you’re providing for text searches. For example, the consumer might be trying to find “a plumber near me” but being driven to a landing page with a list of products on it. Once you know what your audience is looking for, determine if your paid advertisements and landing pages satisfy those searches so that you can improve performance for your PPC campaigns.

Optimize and Customize

Artificial intelligence encourages searchers to use conversational language. When trying to find an Italian restaurant in Chicago, one using voice search might ask: “What is the best Italian restaurant in Chicago?” However, if that same user wanted to search on a keyboard, they might type: “Best Italian restaurants Chicago.” The variation in tone shows that voice searches are looking for an immediate answer while text searches indicates that the consumer is still in the research phase.

Since voice search users are on the go looking for a quick direct answer, it’s important to optimize your content and ad copy to align with all the questions related to your offerings. Customize ad copy and drive traffic to a high-quality content landing page to ensure a better user experience and quality score. It’s also important to incorporate human-like content in your search ads and landing pages to match the natural phrases being searched.

Listen and Learn

Since voice search is becoming more widely adopted, especially for millennials, we can predict that we will see more PPC advancements and features to come focused around artificial intelligence. Even though we cannot track data for voice search yet, take advantage of what we have access to now by creating tests and strategies. Once you understand how your audience is using voice search, you can begin to prepare your PPC campaigns for the growth of artificial intelligence.

True Interactive Predicts the Future of Performance Media

True Interactive Predicts the Future of Performance Media


How is performance media changing in 2017? At True Interactive, we consider questions like that all the time. We have to. Our own performance depends partly on our ability to stay on top of the changing performance media landscape in order to be trusted partners to our clients. We surveyed our own team to find out what’s on their minds as we examine the changing nature of performance media. We’ve summed up our thinking below.

Three key themes emerge from our internal survey: the evolution of mobile, the increasingly sophisticated nature of attribution, and the rise of voice search. We see performance media strategies going through a mobile-first phase before ultimately entering a post-mobile phase. Meanwhile, attribution is getting more precise thanks to the development of better tools in discipline like paid search, and advances in voice search are challenging businesses to refine their paid and organic content for voice queries, which are much different from text-based queries. Read on for more detail:

  • “We’re entering a post-mobile world. With mobile now accounting for 60 percent of all searches in the United States, marketers are becoming more comfortable with integrating mobile into their media planning and implementation rather than calling out mobile as its own emerging channel requiring a standalone paid media strategy. Maximizing the value of mobile certainly requires an understanding of mobile’s distinct attributes, but in 2017 our industry will continue to shed a fixation with ‘mobile first’ thinking.”

  • “No More John Doe. It was not long ago that targeting focused primarily on finding the best keywords and honing in on the most optimal geo locations when trying to reach customers. Now through both SEM and social channels, advertisers can further narrow their customer search based on demographics including age, gender, education, and income, as well as interests, topics, purchasing behaviors, and device preferences, to touch on just a few. Based on data collected about your customers, there is also the option to target lookalike or similar audiences – potential customers who share characteristics similar to those individuals currently targeted. Testing various targeting options can help paint a picture of the ideal customer and make advertising spend more efficient. These refined targeting options have opened the door for smaller businesses with limited budgets to engage in online advertising as they are able to focus spend on a tighter subset of potential customers and stretch their advertising dollars.”

  • “With the continued growth of mobile on search and social channels advertisers will need to begin evaluating the appropriate metrics for a mobile first world. Click through rates though vital to the industry will need to be reengineered with mobile users not having the same motivation behind clicks. The continued study of interaction will be weighed heavily in 2017 as advertisers will need to understand what ad formats and text will work best for users at all times of day, whether it be shorter for the work day when users glance at their phone for a quick break or creating a longer story that will carry the user throughout the day and eventually lead to a conversion. With this interaction rate and attribution will need to be viewed alongside click through rate to determine a brands true returns from mobile advertising efforts.”

  • 2017 will be the year that digital marketers embrace audience targeting. I’m not just talking about social platforms and remarketing, but also for search. In 2016, we continued to refine strategies around Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and Similar Audiences for Search. Both tactics give the opportunity to either exclude irrelevant audiences or to increase bids for more qualified leads. I believe keywords will still play a critical role for search marketers, but with CPC’s increasing, advertisers are looking for cheaper ways to reach relevant user types. Last year, audience targeting was something new that many people were just testing, but with the growing trend of a personalized ad experience, we can expect to see a dramatic increase this year.

  • “The marketers that outperform their peers in 2017 will be focused upon utilizing analytics to optimize targeting. The publishers have altered the game so that by default ads will show to as broad a target as possible. Therefore, the skilled marketer will adjust and strive to narrow targeting layers in order to retain the most relevant audience. Efficiency is the goal and analytics will be the tool used to properly identify that refinement of targeting.”

  • “The evolution of artificial intelligence is changing the way people search online. Voice searches are increasing due to a growing popularity of personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa. When consumers are speaking to these assistants, they are using a more natural language, thus altering their search behavior. As of right now, Google and Bing do not provide a way to track voice searches. Voice searches are translated into text and listed as regular search queries. At times you might see, ‘Siri, can you . . . ‘ or ‘OK Google’ before a search term, but that’s not always the case. Jumping into 2017, I predict that we will see more to come focused around artificial intelligence and voice-technology.”

We invite our readers to have a conversation with us about the direction of performance media. What trends do you see in the marketplace?

It’s Time to Adopt a Video Ad Strategy

It’s Time to Adopt a Video Ad Strategy


Cable (read TV advertising) is growing old and becoming outdated. It’s time for businesses to seriously embrace YouTube advertising. Brands that invest in YouTube advertising can say goodbye to the days of wondering if their customer segment actually stays tuned in for their commercial or if they get up to get a snack. And gone are the overpriced commercials, the imprecise targeting, and the broad strokes of data that they receive.

To most CFOs, branding is an excuse to spend additional advertising dollars without a distinctive reward. One of the biggest and most expensive methods of branding is a traditional television advertisement; just take a look at the cost for a 30-second TV spot during the Super Bowl LI ($5 million or $166,666 per second). That commercial may be funny, distinctive, heart-warming, and informative, but what do you really get out of it? Other than getting Nielsen ratings for when the commercial ran, is there any way to measure the success? Did you hit your primary customer target? Were you speaking to a new segment of customer, and, if so, did the message resonate with them? Did your advertisement drive any direct sales? These are all good questions that any decent marketing strategist wants answered — and quickly. But with TV, those answers aren’t immediately available and can take months, if not years, to be fully fleshed out.

TV is a traditional outlet in a digital world, and according to, nearly one out of every five households “cut the cord” in 2016. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. households are no longer reachable via traditional TV advertising! This new gap, and a gap that is more than likely going to grow in the coming years, opens up a new medium for businesses of all sizes: YouTube In-Stream and YouTube 6-second bumpers.

According to Google, the average YouTube session is 40 minutes, and during that 40-minute session, there is ample opportunity for companies to show users a video ad at a fraction of the cost of a traditional TV advertisement. In many cases, video ads can be served to a viewer for anywhere between 5 cents and 25 cents. Yes, you read that right: a nickel and a quarter!

What are YouTube In-Stream ads? What are 6-second bumper ads? Well, everyone knows what they are; you just may not know them by name:

· An in-stream video ad is the sponsored video that plays before your video selection on YouTube (and across the entire Google Display Network) and gives you the option of skipping the full ad after 5 seconds.

· A 6-second bumper ad is the quick advertisement (6 seconds) that is shown before your selected video and are forced to watch before your video begins.

Both ad types are available to all advertisers but are typically pushed aside because many advertisers continue to look at them as a direct acquisition tactics, rather than for what they really are: TV commercial substitutes.

Since advertisers look at YouTube as a direct acquisition tactic, they expect to see a return on their investment. But, do advertisers expect to see a return on investment from TV? Of course not — because conversions can’t be directly attributed to TV advertising. The same strategic thinking should be applied to YouTube, and, once applied, you will see that the cost per view and the cost per conversion is much more cost effective. But, how is YouTube much more cost effective?

Any marketing strategist/manager thrives on data. Some like to slice it up into dozens of different views and others just want to see the overall worth of a tactic. But, with TV advertising, doing so is nearly impossible. YouTube and the Google Display Network, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to target even the smallest customer segments. Are you looking to reach females, age 25-34, who are political news junkies? Trying to target moms, 35-44, who are foodies, and have already visited your website? How about men, 18-24, interested in gaming? Men, 45-54, interested in cars? You can target all of them with YouTube!

Not only can you target customer segments, but you can see how many of them interacted with your site, subscribed to your YouTube channel, made a purchase, or watched another of your YouTube videos (other than the ad you just showed them). Not only can advertisers see the different interactions of an audience, but they can also see how much of the video ad that they watched. Doing so allows advertisers to determine if a video ad is too long, how much of the video a person watches before deciding to skip it, or see what percentage of viewers are tuned in for the entire video ad. All of these results can be determined the very next day.

Advertising pioneer John Wanamaker once famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” Take advantage of the new, digital video ads, get ahead of your competition, and study the results so that you aren’t wasting this half.

True Interactive Named a Top PPC Agency – 2016

True Interactive Named a Top PPC Agency – 2016


I wanted to share some great news we just learned this week!

Clutch Announces the Top Pay Per Click Agencies of 2016

Oct 11, 2016

The research recognizes 15 outstanding firms with proven records of client satisfaction.

WASHINGTON, October 11, 2016 — Clutch released its annual report on leading Pay Per Click (PPC) agencies. The publication evaluates PPC agencies from the US, Canada, and England, taking into consideration their level of focus on PPC advertising and client feedback about their work.

The top PPC companies for 2016 are: JumpFly, Straight North, CPC Strategy, Page Zero Media, True Interactive, eMarketing Concepts, TopSpot Internet Marketing, 180Fusion, Directive Consulting, Promodo, Be Found Online, Anvil Media, ClosedOpp, OptFirst Internet Marketing, and Big Oak Studios.

“Pay per click advertising is a highly effective marketing tool, but it also can be very expensive and time-consuming if done haphazardly,” said Sean Huang, a business analyst at Clutch. “The firms highlighted in our research have demonstrated both their expertise in PPC and their commitment to clients’ success, ensuring that buyers do not fall victim to wasting resources.”

These companies were selected based on quantitative and qualitative factors. Clutch analysts interviewed the companies’ past clients to learn how the firms approach challenges, develop strategies, and execute customized reports. The research process also includes evaluating the companies’ market presence, level of experience in the PPC industry, public recognition, and technical certifications.

Clutch’s research in search engine optimization (SEO), PPC, and search engine marketing (SEM) is ongoing, and we encourage interested companies to apply to get listed and be included in future coverage.

About ClutchA B2B ratings and reviews firm in the heart of Washington, DC, Clutch connects you with the agencies and software solutions that can help you enhance your business and meet your goals. Our methodology maps agencies and software solutions based on consumer reviews, the type of services offered, and quality of work.

SPOTLIGHT: Becoming a Digital Advertising Champion


MarketingProfs logoDo you remember anyone who won an Olympic gold medal? Of course you do. Depending on your age, you might recall Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner (decathlon 1976), Joan Benoit Samuelson (1st women’s marathon, 1984), the Dream Team (USA men’s basketball 1992) or Usain Bolt (100 and 200 in both 2008 and 2012).

I certainly have some vivid memories of Olympic champions. Now, can you tell me who finished fifth? In any event … in any year. Can’t do it, can you?

Much the same can be said about search engine results. If your digital ad is not in one of the coveted top 3-4 spots in Google results, you might as well not be in the race.

In a recent article on MarketingProfs, “How to Win a Spot on the PPC Podium in the Olympics of Search,” I give tips that can help you be a medalist in the competitive digital advertising contest. Check it out to learn how to be strategic with your ads and messaging, get more specific with targeting, and take advantage of shopping improvements.

You may not make it onto a Wheaties box, but you’ll definitely improve your chances of bolstering your bottom line. Read the full article on Marketing Profs.