It’s hard to believe, but in less than one week from this moment, many of us will be suffering from a severe turkey-and-stuffing hangover and enjoying every darn minute of it. Since we’ll all be in a turkey-induced stupor and likely incapable of moving more than a few feet from the couch, and that’s only for an extreme emergency like needing to use the bathroom, we have some serious ground to cover while we’re all still functional.

Not to worry, you won’t have to suffer a week without me. I’ll be right here next Friday morning, bright and early and ever-cheerful, to share your weekly dose of PPC goodies. But, there’s lots to cover today of critical importance to getting your ad campaigns in gear for the holiday shopping season (which, just in case you didn’t know, officially kicks off next Friday…or, on Thanksgiving itself, for some retailers and out-of-their-minds shoppers), so we’re going to get right down to it.

 

What does Google have to say on this week-before-Turkey-feast?

A new Diagnostics tab in the Merchant Center is making troubleshooting easier. This is particularly helpful as we enter the holiday shopping season, when it’s more imperative than ever that your products are shown properly to potential customers. If there are errors and other snafus within your data, you could lose out on a substantial amount of business. Diagnostics tab to the rescue! It consolidates data from Merchant Center account, feeds, and items, giving you critical insight into the status of your product data. Reporting tools are also available, offering:

  • Historic overview of eligibility status, so you can pinpoint the cause behind any recent product disapprovals.
  • Downloadable reports with all affected items, including reasons for disapproval.
  • Traffic and impact metrics, illustrating the items currently impacted by present issues.

Get the full run-down from the AdWords Blog. More impressions and clicks are within reach, along with opportunities you might be missing in your bidding strategy and tips for finding your mobile voice – all to improve your Shopping campaigns just in time for the holiday season. This is thanks to some new data available in competitive landscape data that will help you discover new ways to optimize your Shopping campaigns and get more customers across all types of devices. Among the additions:

  • Revamped search impression share, now more useful and aligned with text ads.
  • Device and time segmentation for a more refined bid modifier strategy.
  • Bid simulator columns that show you what your results would have been had you chosen different parameters.
  • Flattened view of product groups, representing a new and different way to analyze your performance.

More details on these new additions to competitive landscape data, and how to make use of these new features to get even better results from your Shopping campaigns through the holiday shopping season and beyond, right here. You can now show promotions in Product Listing Ads with Merchant Promotions. Well, this isn’t exactly new in the U.S. – it’s been an option for about two years – but it’s been expanded to retailers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and India. If you’re not using Merchant Promotions, you should think about doing so.

Why? Advertisers who have taken advantage of the opportunity have seen improved performance by the way of a higher CTR, higher conversions, and lower CPC. Not a bad deal, if I do say so myself. Want more info? Check out Google’s Getting Started Guide, or fill out an interest form. For more details on the expansion, check out this post.

News flash: Shopping never sleeps. Neither does money. And you can rake in tons of cash-ola this holiday season if you heed Google’s advice and target shoppers ‘round the clock. Some excellent tips over on the Google and Your Business Blog related to capturing customers during the busy holiday shopping season, including:

  1. Stay in the know about this year’s trends and must-have gifts.
  2. Make sure you’re showing up in your audience’s searches through broad match modifiers and other bidding and targeting opportunities.
  3. Let AdWords work for you around the clock – even if you can’t drink enough coffee to pull off a week’s worth of all-nighters.
  4. Capture mobile audiences with the right bidding strategy.
  5. Use ad extensions and ad customizers to stand out in the crowd. After all, shoppers often evaluate a dozen different websites before making a purchase decision, so making a can’t-refuse offer is a must.

Check out this post for all the details.

 

Well, hey there Bing. What’s shakin’?

This week, Bing is running a series of articles with valuable tips to help advertisers prepare for and get the most out of the holiday shopping season. Yeah, I’m totally well aware that I’ve said “holiday shopping season” about 4,500 times in this post, but hey, it’s upon us, and we’ve all gotta deal. And, it’s mighty gracious of Google and Bing to offer up some timely new features and advice on the subject. So, let’s take a look at Bing’s tutorials and tips.

First up: Editorial review tips on product ads. This post has some useful tips on getting advertising campaigns up and running within Bing’s Ad Editorial Guidelines. Such as:

  1. Adult content not permitted in Bing Ads. Yeah. Well, hmmm. Not sure that’s an overly popular holiday shopping search topic, but maybe I’m more naïve than I give myself credit for. At any rate, keep it clean, folks.

Also, you should think about the way some terms that actually don’t have anything to do with adult content might appear as though they actually are naughty…case in point, hardware or tool advertisers may use the term “stripper,” which clearly has nothing to do with an actual human stripper in this case, but nonetheless, could be mistaken as such out of context. I’m dead serious, people. This is the example Bing provides. I’m good and all, but even I can’t make this stuff up.

  1. If you have keywords with a high potential for disapproval, try to group them all together in categories. If you sell poker tables and supplies, for instance, you might be flagged for “gambling” content.
  2. Review your Product Ads feed for non-editorial issues, such as whether your offer title and price matches those on your landing page, your images aren’t pixelated, and your URLs are functional, before you upload to the Bing Merchant Center.

You can read more about strippers and similar no-nos in this post. Next up: An introduction to Ad Extensions in Bing Ads. There are three different types of Extensions available in Bing Ads, which are useful for things like people who click through on an ad only to find your phone number or mailing address, and also to reduce bounce rates:

  • Location Extensions
  • Call Extensions
  • Sitelink Extensions

For more on each type of Extension and how you can use them to optimize your holiday shopping campaigns, check out this post on the Bing Ads blog. And finally, some editorial tips for Sitelink Extensions. This post offers tips for using Sitelink Extensions to elevate user experience and accessibility, such as:

  • Making sure your Sitelink Extension URLs are functioning and directing users to the correct location.
  • Ensuring your Sitelink Extensions are adding value and directing users to critical pages and information to advance them through the buying process.
  • Using distinct URLs for every Sitelink Extension.
  • Alerting your PPC manager to any potential editorial disapprovals.

More tips and other useful tidbits are up for grabs in this post.

 

Any good pre-Thanksgiving treats from those in the know around the web?

PPCHero offers up some fantastic tips for maximizing Facebook ads with Google Analytics. Check it out.

Another must-read post from PPCHero this week, this one reveals three awesome browser tools PPC-ers can use to save tons of time. I’m totally in on anything that saves me precious minutes. If you’re game, get the scoop here.

Have you crafted buyer personas? If you haven’t taken the time to do this, you should stop everything you’re doing right now and do it. Seriously. It’s not a lengthy or complex process, yet it can literally transform your sales and marketing initiatives, including your pay-per-click advertising. A worthy effort, I assure you, and one that’s going to be increasingly critical as we move into 2015. Trust me on this one, and listen to this podcast on crafting buyer personas from 3Q Digital.

Part 10 of the Complete AdWords Audit series from Certified Knowledge talks testing. This is a phenomenal post covering everything you need to know about testing your ads and campaigns for optimal PPC results. Seriously – step-by-step, all the tests you need to run, all the elements you need to test, it’s all right here. Brilliant.

WordStream has an informative post on using countdown scripts to boost conversions with AdWords. Check it out.

 

Well, I think we can safely say it’s been a fantastic week for PPC news, yes? One final tip: It’s all about planning. Get ahead of the game and you’ll not only get better results, you’ll save a bit more of your sanity in the process. Trust me on this. So get reading, get optimizing, and get ready to kick back, relax, and enjoy your turkey hangover next week. Make it a great one!