Hey y’all, you know what today is right? It’s the first day of SPRING. Now, that means absolutely zilch in terms of how warm it’s gonna be. In fact, it’s cold and snowing in some parts of the U.S. today. But it’s all good, because warmer days and the newness of spring is sure to come…any day now.

Spring is all about the new, the excitement of the laid-back summer months and long, warm days to come. Well, the paid search world is certainly abuzz with newness this week, with new advertising opportunities, new ways to connect with audiences, and new research on the multi-screen digital world and how it’s changing the way advertisers engage their audiences and tie paid search advertising into real-world happenings.

We’ve all got things to do, people to see, and places to go on this fabulous first day of spring, so let’s get to today’s PPC update.

Hey, Google, what’s happening?

Brick-and-mortar retailers can tap into the power of PPC – and even drive foot traffic with smartphones. With so much talk as of late on the blurring of the lines between the real world and the digital, it seems fitting that Google is revealing the results of new research conducted by Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands for Google, based upon purchasing behaviors of more than 6,000 smartphone shoppers, which dispels a few common myths surrounding the digital-real world overlap, including:

  • Search results only send shoppers to e-commerce sites
  • Retailers lose shoppers who check their phones while in-store
  • Buyers only visit retail stores to transact or showroom

In fact, none of these common myths are accurate, according to the study results. So what’s happening? Essentially, smartphones have become shoppers’ personal shopping assistants, reducing buyer’s remorse and leading to increased satisfaction after the sale. (According to the study, 66% of shoppers say they were happier with in-store purchases when they were able to research online first. Enter the smartphone, your instant connection to the online world while you’re staring at the sweater you so desperately want to buy – but only if you can’t get it cheaper online.) For more on these findings, check out this post.

The hotel search experience is about to get better on Google. Actually, it already has. In addition to structured, relevant and dynamic information – like rates, availability, and other essential details – for the millions of hotel searches that happen on Google every day, Google is now offering a special ad format just for hotels: aptly named, Hotel Ads.

These ads allow travelers to select “Book” and complete their reservations with the partner. Now, this isn’t exactly a new development, as partners like Hilton Worldwide have been using Hotel Ads since 2011, but it is a part of the hotel search evolution and certainly a boast-worthy topic for Google.

According to Dustin Bomar, vice president, Digital Acquisition, Hilton Worldwide, Hilton Worldwide has realized a 45% higher conversion rate from Google Hotel Ads. For more on how Google is continuing efforts to improve the hotel search experience and boost results for hotel advertising partners, read this post.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably realize that March Madness is upon us. And according to the AdWords Agency Blog, the March Madness audience is increasingly engaging on the web, spelling major opportunities for brands to connect with fans.

For instance, in March and April 2014, 40% of searches related to brackets were on mobile, pointing to the second-screen opportunity for advertisers. The key, Google says, is to market in a way that adds to the experience, rather than takes fans away from it. More on this here.

Speaking of second-screening, you don’t have to be a basketball fan to participate in the second-screen experience. In fact, 84% of smartphone and tablet users watch television with a second screen in-hand. Check out this post to find out how Google Play tapped into hyper-relevant marketing to connect with fans during the Oscars.

What’s up, Bing?

Speaking of seasonal change, seasonal shifts in search trends have a pretty big impact on your PPC campaigns. Bing is easing your pain with useful insights on how to use the Campaign Planner to anticipate traffic volume and seasonal performance variation while accounting for additional device targets or expanding to new verticals.

Specifically, the Campaign Planner offers marketplace insights by vertical, product and keyword, with visibility into seasonal trends through year-over-year performance, search volume location tips, and even device performance trends. Check out three different use cases that prove valuable to advertisers who need to make accurate projections to effectively plan campaigns in this post.

Don’t forget, Unified Device Targeting officially rolls out on Monday, March 23rd. So how can you optimize your campaigns for mobile search? Starting Monday, it’s going to be more crucial than ever that your campaigns are properly optimized to reach the ever-growing mobile search audience, so Bing is weighing in with some timely tips for doing just that, including:

  • Using location extensions to make your business easy to find
  • Tapping into dynamic keyword insertion to feature popular products in relevant search results
  • Using call extensions to allow consumers to get in touch with you directly from search results
  • Adding mobile site links to direct busy mobile searchers to the precise, valuable content they’re looking for

More details and useful insights from Bing Ads on optimizing your ads for mobile in this post.

Bing Ads has also made some improvements to the user experience for managing payment methods during Signup and in Wallet. “The new workflow guides you through adding a payment method, selecting the right currency and associating your payment in the way you expect, so you can confidently complete the process the first time around.” More details here.

Thought leaders, what say you?

Your ad copy should be refreshed every four to six weeks, but many advertisers run promotions on a regular, and often more frequent, basis, and it’s obviously a good idea to emphasize these promotions in paid search ads. Thus, creating these ads can be particularly time-consuming – but PPCHero is here to save the day with some valuable tips and tactics that can streamline the process. Read it here.

Studies have shown that more than half of a campaign’s sales impact is traceable back to creative variables. 3Q Digital weighs in on why it might be time to rethink programmatic creative in this post.

Should you opt out of Google Dynamic Sitelinks? Find out when it might be good idea to opt out in this post from 3Q Digital.

What do you need to know about call-only campaign reporting? Clix Marketing reveals.

And in another useful post from Clix Marketing, you’ll discover how to uncover AdWords Income Targeting.

Why do fewer mobile visitors convert? In the latest Digital Marketing Report from Merkle|RKG, it’s revealed that over 40% of search clicks were from mobile devices in Q4 of 2014 – but, revenue per click (RPC) of tablets was just 76% that of desktop, while smartphone RPC was just 33%. In this video, Merkle|RKG reveals five tips for increasing mobile conversions and getting more out of your mobile visitors.

What are the most expensive keywords in Bing Ads? This infographic from WordStream unveils the top 20.

Whew. Good thing the days are getting longer. You’re going to need more hours in a day to get through all the valuable PPC insights emerging daily these days. So, whether you’re shoveling snow or soaking up some sun on this first day of spring, carve out some time to optimize your campaigns to capitalize on the new opportunities, tricks, and tips from today’s PPC update. And as always, make it a great one, folks!