Did you miss me? We’re back to round out the rest of your week with more news from the land of PPC.

What’s on the agenda today? The cross-screen experience isn’t just a dream for the future – it’s here, and Google is, of course, taking the lead in enabling digital advertising to tap into those technological capabilities. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it. If you’re in your 30’s, you probably didn’t have your own laptop during high school.

I just had a conversation about this very thing the other day with a colleague who’s a former high school teacher. She said at conferences, you can tell how old someone is just by how they set themselves up for learning. The older participants don’t have laptops; they’re sticking to the good, old-fashioned, pen-and-paper method. The middle group of participants is trying to make enough room to squeeze in both a notebook and a laptop. The youngest group? They don’t even have a pen to put their name on the sign-in sheet.

So if you’re heading into your (ahem) middle-aged era like myself, you’re probably torn between taking notes on your laptop or writing 25 pages of notes for a 30-minute meeting. Obviously, typing is quicker for most – but again, if you’re like me, you absorb and retain information best if you physically write it out on paper. Sigh. The struggles of middle age. At any rate, Google is paving the way for a rich, multi-screen brand experience for consumers, and you should take advantage no matter what your comfort level with today’s rapid technological advances. Living on the cusp of technology pays off.

More changes are also emerging to the Google Shopping experience, we have more talk on the AdWords policy updates and some deeper insights into Google’s brand awareness study. Does paid search really increase brand recognition, or is that finding a mirage? Now that you’re all intimately familiar with my premature mid-life crisis (hey, I’m only in my 30’s, after all!), let’s see what’s happening in PPC.

 

What does Google have to say on this fabulous Friday?

Google has introduced some changes to its Shopping Products Feed specification in order to help merchants sell products with new ad formats and a new campaign type. The goal is to give merchants more flexibility for organizing product data and reaching more shoppers. Changes include:

  • You should now submit mobile landing page links separately from standard landing page links, so that you can direct your mobile shoppers to the best user experience.
  • Custom bundles will now have a distinct specification. This applies to merchant-defined bundles, such as a smartphone with related accessories. This ensures that your custom bundles will display properly in the Google Shopping experience.
  • You can now describe apparel products in greater detail using attributes.
  • It’s finally here: Availability is now clearer and simplified for products. This allows for a clearer distinction between different availability states, such as currently available, out-of-stock, unavailable and on-backorder.
  •  Mandatory character limits are now defined for each attribute, making it simpler to adhere to guidelines.

Check out the post at Inside AdWords for more details.

Does your brand own the digital shelf? Think with Google shares a new way to put the coveted first page of the Google SERPs into perspective: a bookshelf, digital of course, and one that sits precisely at eye level. Like the ideal shelf to have your products sit on in the grocery store. If you start thinking about the SERPs as property you can own, lease out or merely covet from afar, some innovative product placement strategies emerge. In a nutshell, you want to be:

  • Represented on the premier shelf
  • In-stock
  • Competitive
  • Useful

Want to know more? Get the full story here.

 

Bing heads back to school…

Well it’s been, what, a week or two since we celebrated the fact that school’s out for the summer? So you know what that means: Time to ramp it up for Back-to-School!

Did you know that back-to-school is the second largest shopping season of the year? In other words, if you can tie your products or services into back-to-school, you’re opening the door to some major brand awareness potential, if nothing more. But for some retailers with products highly relevant to back-to-school shoppers, this season is even more profitable than the holiday shopping season. A few key points:

  • According to Bing, most people begin their back-to-school shopping about three to four weeks before the school year starts.
  • Back-to-school-related searches on Bing peaked during the last week of July in 2013, so you can probably expect a similar pattern this year.
  • Mobile will be a big thing this year for reaching this audience.

More stats and helpful tips here.

If you like Bing’s Bid Landscape tool, you’ll be happy to know that you can now access it at the ad group level, too. It’s also been expanded to non-U.S. advertisers. Visit the Bing Ads Blog for more details.

 

And from the rest of the web-o-sphere:

Combining Facebook advertising and paid search campaigns can get you more conversions – cheaper. Sound like a good deal? Get the scoop at Inside Facebook, and check out MarketingLand’s analysis of the same study conducted by Kenshoo, which reveals the right mix of Facebook spend and paid search that yields the most results.

WordStream dishes on Google’s soon-to-be-unveiled new AdWords Policy Center that we mentioned earlier this week.

We also told you about Google’s study that shows that paid search advertising actually boost brand awareness – significantly. We’re talking an 80 percent increase in top-of-mind awareness. That’s huge! Well, WordStream has some insights on that, too, with some informative graphics. You should check out their post.

But what does that mean, exactly? Does that statement actually mean what it seems to mean? SearchEngineLand delves even deeper into those insights to uncover what exactly “increases brand recognition” really means.

SearchEngineWatch jumps on the Back-to-School bandwagon with the results of a study that reveal some useful insights for capitalizing on the back-to-school trend:

  • You’ll need three to four weeks additional lead time if you want to tap into the “back-to-school” frenzy with SEO. (Eh, so…start like NOW.)
  • You can override that 3-4 week lead-time necessity with paid search. (Ah, that sounds more like it…)
  • Tap into that “Are you kidding me? Back-to-school advertising already?” mindset with the right messaging. (Yep, love that marketing psychology!)
  • “Back to school,” “school shopping,” “school supplies” and “back to school sales” are promising, oft-searched terms related to back-to-school season.
  • Searches for these terms tend to peak in mid-August.

Particularly good news for digital marketers is that consumers are spending more of their back-to-school shopping budgets online than off, according to the report. There are many more interesting and highly useful facts emerging from this report, such as the promise of advertising on Pinterest and Instagram, so be sure to check out the full post.

What do you think? Have we satisfied your insatiable desire for all things paid search for the week? Dying to know more about something specific? Hit us up in the comments and we’ll address it in next week’s roundup!

Enjoy your weekend, PPC-ers!