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Successful PLAs Need Great Data as Holiday Shopping Set to Spike

The more information you can present in a data feed, the better your Product Listing Ads should perform.

Google’s Inside AdWords discussion of the Product Listing Ad format noted the condensed holiday shopping period coming up, with six fewer shopping days in the traditional season due to Thanksgiving falling late in November.

Their tips on Product Listing Ads considered the data feed, the method by which advertisers deliver product information that in turn becomes the ad presented to a relevant search. Keeping that data feed fresh should be a priority; a feed that presents an out of stock item as available, or doesn’t reflect an active price promotion, could deliver a poorly performing ad.

Another consideration of the data feed would be the data itself. Can a title be more informative? Could the description provide better product details? Is it categorized accurately? Are there additional details that might make the ad presentation show up in response to the most relevant queries?

Google naturally encourages more aggressive bidding on ads for in-demand products: seasonal items, best sellers, or items with high margins. “You should also ensure there is only one All products target with the lowest bid of all your product targets to capture consumer interest in your low priority products,” Google’s Erica Sievert wrote.

Despite some trends toward earlier holiday shopping by some consumers, there’s also a contention that many more will do their browsing and purchasing closer to the usual holiday season time frame.

Burst Media’s Spending Season 2013 Online Insights report found that while 39 percent of shoppers plan to get started before Thanksgiving, another 44 percent are content to wait until that holiday to start their gift shopping.

Of particular encouragement to ecommerce pros: Burst Media also found its respondents ready to open their wallets. They found 66 percent plan to spend the same or more this year than in 2012, and 26 percent of mothers with minor children intend to spend more too.

Additional findings include the following:

  • Shoppers go digital to avoid shopping stress and for convenience.Overall, one-quarter (25.1%) of shoppers say their favorite aspect about shopping online (or with apps) is that it’s a relaxed shopping experience – though there are differences between men and women.
  • Mobile devices are increasingly used for shopping. Overall, 45.7% of respondents use smartphones and 41.3% use tablets to go online and shop for holiday products and gifts – far outpacing year-over-year usage.
  • Mobile shopping apps will play a big role this season. Among respondents who use a smartphone or tablet to shop, more than one-half (54.6%) of women and 2-in-5 (41.9%) men use mobile shopping apps at least somewhat frequently, up dramatically over last year.

A link to the full report is available on the Burst Media blog.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.