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The search engine makes several high-profile moves in marketing and search.

Credit Internet Retailer September 27, 2013, 3:11 PM by Thad Rueter Senior Editor

 

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Google Inc. is poised to gain more power in digital marketing and mobile commerce thanks to recent changes the search engine giant has implemented.

While Google has yet to release complete details about those changes, and online marketing experts say they don’t yet have a full view of what it will all mean to consumers, marketers and e-retailers, the moves do indicate ways in which Google intends to influence e-commerce.

Google is already a giant, of course, and it is growing. It will command about 33% of revenue in the worldwide advertising market this year, up from 31% last year,eMarketer projects. Google’s share of worldwide mobile web ad revenue will reach nearly 53.2% this year, the market research firm says, up from about 52.4% this year.

Behind but growing fast is Facebook Inc., set to take in 15.8% of mobile ad revenue this year compared with 5.4% in 2012. For all worldwide ad revenue, Facebook will have 5% this year, up from 4.1% last year.

The recent changes, according to Google and online marketing experts, are these:

• A drive to build what one expert calls a “super cookie” that would track how consumers browse and shop online. This technology would presumably strive to upstage traditional cookies installed on consumers’ browsers, with Google owning the tracking data.

• Rolling out encryption for all searches, which makes it more difficult for online marketers and retailers to track the effectiveness of keywords in organic search.

• The official introduction of the Hummingbird search algorithm, which search expert Danny Sullivan, writing on the SearchEngineLand.com blog, likens to switching out an engine in a classic car.

The first change, regarding the technology that advertisers use to better target online shoppers, is the one that confounds marketing experts the most, given the lack of information from Google.

“We believe that technological enhancements can improve users’ security while ensuring the web remains economically viable,” says a Google spokeswoman. “We and others have a number of concepts in this area, but they’re all at very early stages.”

That has left marketing experts to rely on educated guesses about Google’s plans, though a common theme for those who spoke with Internet Retailer is that whatever Google does, it will do it very well, and own and then sell its data.

“By creating a new form of tracking, Google would basically be replacing the standard on which many ad placement and tracking codes are based,” says Steve King, director of product strategy marketing for marketing services provider Strategic Internet Marketing (SIM) Partners. “Google would control this functionality and could charge advertisers to get access to this information.”

How the new Google tracking technology would differ from the pieces of software code that reside on consumers’ browsers—cookies—is unclear. “I don’t think that’s what it is,” says Jeff Chester, head of the Center for Digital Democracy, an online privacy group, saying the technology likely will differ from traditional cookies.

Still, he calls the potential technology a “super cookie.” He says Google likely would use it to track consumer interactions across multiple devices and via the entire Google platform, and tie into the GPS technology on mobile devices that tell Google where a consumer is when that consumer does a search or shops online—or buys using the Google Wallet payment service.

“This is all about retail,” Chester says.

(Speaking of search and Google, Internet Retailer is running its annual search marketing survey. You can take part by clicking here. Participants may receive a free copy of Internet Retailer’s Social Media 300.)

The Google tracking technology would better reflect today’s e-retail reality, says Josh Dreller, director of marketing research for digital marketing firm Kenshoo Ltd.

“Cookies are not a great way to track consumers across devices, which becomes a bigger issue as phones and tablets garner more and more screen time,” he says. “So, even though cookies are a core component of the online advertising industry’s infrastructure, the writing has been on the wall for some time that a new, better solution needs to evolve. Google’s entry into this area could mean a major step forward for online marketing.”

Google, in fact, has made at least one other recent move designed to reflect the way consumers are increasingly shopping via multiple types of computers. Its Enhanced Campaigns, unveiled earlier this year, enables retailers to customize ads across many devices and for other variables such as time of day and location in a single AdWords, or paid search, account.

The potential Google tracking technology—the “super cookie”—likely will revolve less around a user’s identity than trends centered around that consumer, says Ken Wisnefski, CEO of search engine optimization and services firm WebiMax. “The data and analytics will become more controlled by Google,” he says. “This will reinforce and further [Google’s] already massive dominance.”

And, he says, a Google tracking product could mean trouble for a retargeted advertising provider such as AdRoll. For its part, AdRoll does not yet have enough information to judge the impact of Google’s potential move, an AdRoll spokeswoman says. “With that said, we welcome any standardized way for users to gain increased transparency and control over what data is used for ad targeting purposes,” she says.

As for the second change, search marketing experts this week said that Google is fully but quietly rolling out its SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption for all searches. Nearly two years ago, in October 2011, Google said it would do so. “As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver,” wrote Evelyn Kao, Google product manager, in a blog posting.

“We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year,” a Google spokesman said Friday. “We’re now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in.”

What encrypted search means is that marketers and retailers will know that shoppers come from Google via organic search results, “but won’t receive information about each individual query,” Kao wrote. “They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools.”

Online marketers and retailers will certainly notice the change, and may end up diverting more of their budgets to paid search, which will provide more details about how consumers are getting to e-commerce sites and buying, experts say. “Losing Google’s keyword-level reporting will have a significant impact on how organic search performance is tracked, optimized and analyzed,” says Ryan Mayberry, SEO director for search engine marketing firm iProspect.

IProspect encourages marketers and retailers to better integrate organic search keyword data—for instance, how often visitors who search for a term interact with an e-commerce site—with data from paid search campaigns and other search engines, along with historical comparative keyword and conversion data.

Finally, the third recent change for Google involves a change to its mathematical formula for ranking and placing search results, a move that affects some 90% of all searches, Google says. The change is called Hummingbird, and experts, along with Google officials, describe it as the biggest revision to the company’s search algorithm since 2010’s Caffeine update—or perhaps even since 2000, Wisnefski says. Caffeine enables Google’s crawling technology to take in the web in smaller bites than the previous system, resulting in quicker updates to its search index.

Here’s the good news for e-retailers, according to experts: Hummingbird was quietly introduced about a month ago—surprise!—which means that if retailers have not experienced a decrease in search traffic since then, Hummingbird is probably not going to cause one, at least not for the time being.

Here’s the other news, though: Context appears to be much more important in Google searches than before. While previous Google updates emphasized web page quality, including the quality of links, and fresh, original content, Hummingbird goes beyond that. That’s because Google’s update aims to improve search results by taking in the context and full meaning of what a consumer is searching for.

Here’s how it works, according to what King knows now: Searches for “cheap hotels” would result in affordable hotels “as opposed to hotels of low quality.” That will require retailers to revise web page content to reflect such a context, which will help in rankings. “This rollout seems to target mobile searchers, since these are the users that are least likely to do multiple ‘refinement’ searches,” he says. “Google has a lot of historical information, but as new items or events change the context of searches, the algorithm will change accordingly.”

Google officials also said during the Hummingbird introduction this week that search update will go a long way toward accommodating searches done by voice, which likely would be longer phrases than those consumers type. Google indicated the change was driven in part by consumers becoming more comfortable with searching by using longer questions.

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A bill has passed in the Senate that should be a closely followed news story for anyone interested in e-Commerce. On May 6th, the Internet Sales Tax Bill aka the ‘Marketplace Fairness Act’ passed the Senate with a vote of 69 – 27 in favor of the bill.

The new bill allows 45 states and the District of Columbia to collect sales tax from large online retailers who make more than 1 Million USD from residents of states where they have no physical presence. eBay is lobbying to raise this to 10 Million USD but the message is clear: tax free sales on the internet are being regulated.

This has some interesting implications for small businesses as well as the industry on the whole. Smaller VARs who offer competitive pricing may find themselves winning sales over the larger retailers if they don’t have to charge tax. The larger the item the better chance they have of converting a website user since their potential savings would increase.

The Marketplace Fairness Act could stimulate competition and increase sales for smaller businesses, but only to the point where they would not be subjected to the new law. In any case, the House of Representatives vote will determine the next chapter of the story.

Read the full article here.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words…which means a recent blog post from Yopto.com is worth over 12,000.

In their post Yopto.com, a plug and play social review solution for e-Commerce websites, provides various infographics on the current state of e-Commerce.

Interested in eTail projections for 2016? US is expected to grow 44%. The number of projected number of US shoppers in 2016? More than 192 Million…

Head on over to Yopto.com’s blog to look at a snapshot of the e-Commerce industry.

Full article available here.

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Whether or not to show cross-sells or upsells in the cart is a long standing debate.” – Lina Bustos, getelastic.com.

How can you have upsell/cross –sell “work” in the checkout section? There are three ways, or “P”s to implement cross selling within the checkout section to “beef up” the final sale, Presentation, Population & Persuasion.

The first is presentation, which includes design and placement. Important design features include tabbed content, shopping cart items that “bounce”, and even having a carousel layout instead of having tabs all together.

Second is population, and in the article, there is an emphasis on what you are cross-selling is more important than how you present them.

Third and lastly is persuasion and how persuasive marketing keeps customers exploring your online shop.

For more in-depth explanations on the three “P”s of Cross-selling in the virtual shopping cart, read Bustos’ article here.

 

 

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Gone are the days where you need to have a brick and mortar store in order to run a successful retail business” – Nicole McCullum, Resource Nation.

It can never be emphasized enough how important the look and feel of an online store is.  Having an aesthetically pleasing user interface with intuitive usability will bring more visitors to your online retail store and increase sales. There are many best practices to follow along with two common tips can will help you in the e-Commerce world.

Product Images. Imagery is paramount.  Making customers familiar with your products can be difficult if the customer does not see them in person. This is where product images come into play. Hi-Res photos are even better, because they help the viewer see what the product looks in great detail. To make customers really feel comfortable buying the product, they will want to see what the product looks like from all angles (you don’t need to limit the product to just one image). A step-up from 2-D images are videos and 3-D models.

Easy Usability. Customers should be able to navigate with ease. Being able to find other categories, comparing products, and seeing related products should only be a click away. Putting an item in the shopping cart shouldn’t take their attention away from the online catalog; it should feel seamless and encourage them to keep browsing.

In an environment where your first and only impression is digital, accurate representation of your products and services is of the utmost importance. Engaging your customers correctly the first time is the key to repeat business.

For further reading on e-Commerce design check out the following:

http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/20-tips-ecommerce-design-usability-173517191.html

http://www.resourcenation.com/article/five-tips-ecommerce-website-design-success

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As the internet and tech devices saturate more and more of our day-to-day lives, advertisers have done their best to keep pace with the latest innovations. In order to cater to online advertisers looking to reach users on all devices, Google has revamped their paid search to allow day-parting and automated device-specific ad serving.

Previously Google has allowed device-specific targeting via Adwords but each ad combination needed to be entered separately. Google’s latest updates now allow mobile targeting as well as Desktop & Tablet targeting, whereas previously all three could be turned on or off.

What do these changes mean for your average advertiser? In addition to new ways to target potential customers, Google’s updates will likely create more revenue for themselves. Their decision to bundle Desktops & Tablets, despite supporting conversion data that indicates differently, means advertisers won’t get the ROI they could have previously with targeted campaigns.

Read the full article here.

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As of January 1st, 2013 Etilize, Inc. has officially transitioned our name to GfK Etilize. A number of branding updates will be seen in 2013 and will better align Etilize with our parent company’s product portfolio.

GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies with more than 12,000 employees globally in more than 100 markets. The transition will bring changes to our Branding, Websites, Communications, and Partner Programs throughout the year.

For more information about these changes planned for 2013, please feel free to read our press release on etilize.com or call us at 1.888.608.1212.

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Holiday shoppers are on the prowl. It’s the time of year where every online retailer should be optimizing their offering as well as their offers. Many businesses have found great success offering free shipping or at least shipping incentives to drive sales.

A recent InternetRetailer.com article recounts existing offers and speculates on what ‘Free Shipping’ trends we’ll see this year. At the current count 64 of the top 100 Retailers currently have offers for some sort of free shipping offer where a minimum order must be met. These range from a $25 minimum all the way up to $175 for J. Crew.

Interestingly enough, for every two top 100 Retailers offering free shipping, there is one who is not. This would indicate that while it may help create a temporary sales push for some, the products that businesses offering no free shipping sell may already be competitively priced or unavailable elsewhere. Competitive retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot appear to be mimicking the others’ strategy.

Holiday incentives can be a great tactic to entice undecided customers, but if top 100 Retailers are any example, not mandatory.

Read the full article here.

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Amazon and eBay sellers face congested markets. Thousands of like-minded businesses are taking advantage, rightfully so, of visibility offered by online selling platforms and marketplaces. The products they are selling are the exact same products as their competitors with little material difference in added value. Breaking through the clutter is a difficult process.

In order to reach consumers searching for the products they offer, businesses must find a competitive edge whenever and wherever they can. One popular way of doing this on Amazon and eBay is price refreshing. Price refreshing is simply adjusting your product pricing so that it updates in the system.This has been an effective way to re-queue your products and get additional visibility.

A recent InternetRetailer.com article suggests that updates in pricing and changes to product listings do not directly relate to sales as is intended. As systems and product display algorithms improve, simple refreshes cannot guarantee the same visibility returns. Information such as seller reputation, location and inventory can affect which products are shown first, and greatly influence buying behavior.

As Eric Best, CEO of Mercent, points out that despite all these factors, businesses who don’t reprice often are selling themselves short.

Read the full article here.

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InternetRetailer.com recently published an article about e-Commerce employee turnover and retention. The article highlights a case study for an online business who was having trouble with its talent pool and keeping valuable employees in the right positions. As a result of their woes, they ended up moving to New York City where they could find the talent they were lacking.

Once they were located in a hub where they could source the right employees, their business has continued to grow and expects to reach 100 Million USD in sales by the end of the year.

NoMoreRack.com’s problems are not an isolated incident. Wanted Technologies Corp., a recruiting business intelligence firm, says that e-Commerce turn-over is on the rise, up 2% from last year. As the proliferation of online selling continues, demand for employees with an e-Commerce skill-set has increased 31%. Talented employees are being plucked from smaller businesses with promises of increased compensation which is contributing to the increase.

There are many businesses who manage their inefficiencies. Understanding these shortcomings and making the correct (but possibly drastic)  business decisions to improve them is what separates profitable businesses from those who never reach their full potential.

Read the full article here.

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