‘Tis the season for Product Ads

Earlier this month we announced the U.S. launch of Product Listing Ads, which lets you easily promote products from your Merchant Center account on Google.com. In the past few weeks we’ve seen advertisers promote over 150 million unique products using Product Listing Ads.

Given all that inventory, we were curious to see what people were clicking on during one of the busiest online shopping weekends of the year.

We thought that this was a fairly interesting sneak peak into what you might expect to see under the tree this season. So, with that, here are the most clicked searches for Product Listing Ads over the holiday weekend:
To learn more about Product Ads, check out the video below or visit the AdWords help center.

Richard Petty Driving Experience puts Conversion Optimizer in High Gear, winning the Conversion Champion Challenge

Back in June, we announced the Conversion Champion Challenge, a contest to help motivate you to get your conversion rates in shape for summer. Many of you embraced the challenge - with increased profits to show for it! However, one advertiser stood out among the rest as the true Conversion Champion. We’re delighted to invite Elliott Antal from Richard Petty Driving Experience, to the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA, to spend a day with the Google Conversion team. Elliott told us a bit about his journey to the finish line:

“The Conversion Champion Challenge was the perfect opportunity [for Richard Petty Driving Experience] to try some new tools in regards to our paid search marketing.

Richard Petty Driving Experience is the world's largest provider of NASCAR ride and drive entertainment and the exclusive stock car experience at premiere tracks such as Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Walt Disney World Speedway. A conversion for Richard Petty Driving Experience is a completed e-commerce transaction. Customers have the opportunity to purchase a ride, drive, or merchandise through www.DrivePetty.com.

On June 11, we activated the Conversion Optimizer for our primary search campaign. In the time after the activation we have seen our conversion rate increase by 10% and cost-per-acquisition drop 2%. We’ve also seen our clicks double, with average cost-per-click decreasing by 30%. Conversions are coming in at a healthy pace while maximizing the reach of our budget. Conversion Optimizer has most certainly made a positive impact on our account and performance is continuing to improve over time.”

Well done, Elliott! We look forward to meeting you in person and exploring more ways to boost your ROI.

To learn more the Conversion Optimizer, an automatic bidding tool for increasing your ROI, visit the Conversion Optimizer site.

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew

Conversion Champion Challenge: Get those entries in!

In early June, we announced the Conversion Champion Challenge, a contest challenging you to use free AdWords conversion products to increase your ROI, then submit a mini-case study telling us about your experience. The grand prize winner will receive an AdWords voucher as well as an all-expenses paid trip to Google Mountain View or Google Zurich, where the Google Conversions team will meet with you to review your account and provide customized recommendations.

For those of you who took us up on the challenge, final entries are due tomorrow, July 31 and can be submitted here. So get those entries in soon!

Join an AdWords focus group in Mountain View, California

"Focus on the user and all else will follow." That's always been Google's philosophy. It's also why we'd like to talk to you about how we can best serve you as an advertiser.

On Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, we'll be hosting advertisers at our headquarters in Mountain View, CA to hear about your experiences with AdWords support– including email, chat, and phone.

If you'll be in the San Francisco Bay Area on July 14th and have thoughts on how we can improve our support services, we'd love to have you join one of our focus groups. No visit to Google could be complete without lunch and a tour, so we'll make sure you get both when you come visit.

If you're interested and available, please fill out the form here

Even if you can't make it to Mountain View on July 14th, we'd still like to hear your feedback. If you provide us with your contact details we may reach out to get your feedback by phone or email.

Hope to see you in Mountain View soon!

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew

Get your ROI in shape for the summer with these tips

A couple of weeks ago, we announced the Conversion Champion Challenge, a contest to help you get your ROI in shape for the summer using free AdWords conversion products. It’s not too late to enter and compete to win the grand prize – an AdWords voucher and a trip to Google!

Whether you’re just getting started or actively working to get your conversion rate in shape, here are some best practices for getting the most out of two key conversion products: Conversion Optimizer and Search Funnel reports.

Tips for using Conversion Optimizer
  • Save time by letting Conversion Optimizer manage your bids to reach your ROI goals (On average, campaigns that use Conversion Optimizer experience a 21% increase in conversions and a 14% decrease in cost-per-conversion )*.
  • Choose to bid using the metric that you’re most comfortable with: Target Cost per Acquisition (CPA) or Max CPA.
  • Set different CPA bids for each ad group if conversions in one are more valuable to you than they are in another.
  • Let Conversion Optimizer run for a couple weeks to give it a chance to acclimate to your campaign’s performance.
  • Test Conversion Optimizer on a single campaign if you’re not ready to make large scale changes to your account. If you ever choose to turn it off, you’ll be able to return to the Max CPC bids that you’d previously set.
  • Learn more and check out success stories from advertisers who’ve used Conversion Optimizer.

Tips for using Search Funnel Reports

  • Run Search Funnel Reports within your AdWords account to figure out which ads and keywords potential customers clicked on leading up to a conversion.
  • Identify keywords that are driving conversions and ensure that you’re bidding competitively on them.
  • Identify the keywords you're paying for but aren't leading to conversions and decrease your bids on them accordingly.
  • Use the Time Lag and Path Length reports to understand how long (time and number of searches) it takes before conversions typically happen on your site. This can help you determine how long to run your campaigns.
  • Learn more about Search Funnel Reports.

We can’t wait to hear about your experiences, so let us know how it goes by entering the Conversion Champion Challenge.

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew

*This analysis compares the performance of Conversion Optimizer campaigns over the course of a year with a control set of campaigns and represents the average impact of Conversion Optimizer. The actual impact will vary from campaign to campaign.

Give your conversion rate a workout by taking the AdWords Conversion Champion Challenge!

Now that summer is here, people are thinking about how to get in shape as quickly as they can. Well, your conversion rate wants a beach bod too, and with a little work and some tools in your AdWords account, you can whip it into top form. It’s critical that your marketing efforts and website are in peak condition to attract valuable visitors and convert them into customers. Getting started is the hardest part, so to give you a push in the right direction, we’re launching the Conversion Champion Challenge.

The contest is simple:

1. Track conversions on your site using one of Google’s free measurement products:

2. Analyze and try to boost your performance using AdWords Search Funnels and/or Conversion Optimizer.
3. Show us the results and tell us your story here!

We’ll select the advertiser with the most interesting, innovative and unique case study for:
  • An inclusive trip (including flights, hotel & dinner for 2 people) to Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA, just outside San Francisco.
  • A meeting with the Google Conversion Team who will audit your Google Analytics implementation and give you a usability assessment of your website along with recommendations to further improve your conversion rate.
  • $500 in AdWords credit.
  • A post on the Inside AdWords Blog featuring your website and a big smiley photo of you with the Google team!
So what are you waiting for? Take the Conversion Champion Challenge today!

Entries are due by 31 July, 2010. If you’d like to learn a little more about Conversion Tracking, Conversion Optimizer and Search Funnels, attend the free webinar happening this week on Thursday, June 10. Register now or read more details here.

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew

Happy U.S. Small Business Week

Each year since 1963, the President of the United States has set aside a week to celebrate the contributions of American small businesses: National Small Business Week. Taking place in Washington D.C. from May 23rd – 29th this year, the event salutes the estimated 27.2 million small businesses in America.

At Google, we feel it’s especially important to show our appreciation, admiration and respect for small business owners and employees during this time. We get to see firsthand how creative and innovative you are, and we’re deeply committed to helping you drive your business forward.

Take 5 minutes to easily share the story of your business
All small businesses have a story, so we want to give you the chance to tell yours in a quirky, fun way. To kick things off, we’ve put together this quick example video:

To create a Search Story featuring your business’ journey, just follow these simple steps:
  1. Watch the video above if you haven’t already.
  2. Take a few moments to create your own.
  3. We’d love to see it, so share it with us and the world.
Find tools for online success
This year, we’ve partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration on a site to help your business thrive using online tools. Check it out, and then download our Online Tools booklet to learn how to put these strategies into action.

We’re happy to share that in 2009 Google generated $54B in economic activity in the United States - one business at a time. You can see how Google programs like AdWords helped small businesses in your state at www.google.com/economicimpact.

Google is also a proud sponsor of this year’s Small Business Week celebrations. Visit the National Small Business Week website for more useful resources for your business.

Here’s to hoping for many more prosperous and successful years to come for your company and all of the other small businesses across the country.

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew.

Update 1:55PM: Updated with information on Google's economic impact in 2009.

Discount code available for ad:tech San Francisco

Cross posted from the Google Agency Ad Solutions Blog.

ad:tech San Francisco is this week, from April 19th to April 22nd, and we'll be there. Our product experts will be on hand at the Google booth Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions and provide updates on AdWords, Analytics, DoubleClick, YouTube, AdSense and the Google Content Network. In addition, we're holding the workshops "Insights Lickety Split in AdWords Search Funnels and Google Analytics" and "Google Ad Innovations @ ad:tech," as well as speaking at the session "Marketing Masters - The Bleeding Edge of Advertising Innovation."

Still not sure whether to head to ad:tech San Francisco? It's not too late to register, and Google is pleased to offer a 20% discount on conference passes with the code GGLESPON.

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew

It takes one to show one: Getting a business off the ground with AdWords

Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog:

Small businesses are especially close to my heart. When he retired from teaching, my father ran a small art company in Maine, and I saw firsthand how fulfilling — and how difficult — it was for him to realize his dream of running his own business. Unfortunately, his business closed its doors after just a few years. His key challenge: attracting qualified customers.

Many new businesses face similar challenges, but the power of technology can help business owners find the customers they need. Whether you’re a fledgling entrepreneur trying to turn your passion into a profit or an established enterprise trying to get to the next level, internet tools like Google AdWords are the key to being there when customers come looking for you online.

To show what's possible, we invited 53-year-old Jay Berkowitz to share his experience creating a business and using AdWords to help it flourish. Here's what Jay has to say:

Like most first-time parents, my life completely changed when my daughter Hillary was born in 1993. My wife Janet and I decided that one of us should stay at home to care for her while the other continued working full time. Janet kept her engineering job, and I ended up quitting my job as a Wall Street bond analyst to become Mr. Mom.

Later, when Hillary started school, I had more free time. It seemed like the perfect chance to do something I’d always dreamed of: launch my own business and work for myself. I started selling themed plates and lunchboxes at New York City street fairs. Then in 2001, eight-year-old Hillary showed me (her non-tech-savvy dad) how to turn on a computer. That was the beginning of taking the business online, and realizing a whole new world of possibility. Janet and I worked together to build a website, PlatesPlus4Kids.com, and we started advertising online with Google AdWords. Soon, my little project became a full-fledged venture.

By advertising on the Internet, I was able to reach interested customers not only in my area, but all over the country. More and more people found my store through online searches. In no time, I had so many orders that I could no longer keep my inventory of themed cups, plates and lunchboxes on the kitchen table. The stock moved to the den, then the basement, and finally to a warehouse 20 minutes from our house in Little Neck, New York. Over the years, I've also expanded my product line and now offer children’s backpacks, umbrellas, flatware, snack containers and sandwich boxes. What started as a hobby now brings in about $500,000 in sales annually.

I only pay when people click on my ad and go to my website, so the cost of marketing is within my means. I increase the budget during the back-to-school season and the holidays (my peak periods) so my ads show above the search results during those times. I've also noticed that customers seem to be in a shopping mood on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I sometimes increase my budget on those days to make sure my ads show up more. Depending on trends, I create new ads to promote different characters and new inventory. For example, now that Yo Gabba Gabba is popular and baseball season is starting, I'm making adjustments so that those phrases combined with words like “dishes,” “placemats” and “cups” trigger my ads. And of course, I have ads that mention items with princesses and superheroes — those are top sellers year-round.

What's really great is that even though my business has expanded over the past seven years, it's still a small family company. Two people work for me at the warehouse, but I work from home. Janet takes pictures of the products and works on the website on the weekends. I've had the freedom to be a hands-on parent to Hillary and the privilege of helping other parents connect with their kids through my store. Certain celebrity parents have found me through my AdWords ads and bought items for their kids.

I consider myself a pretty ordinary guy. When I started PlatesPlus for Kids, I had no idea it would become what it is today. It's heartening to know that by following your gut and putting in a lot of hard work, you can find a fulfilling second career. Or maybe a first one.

Jay, Hillary and Janet

Implementing your feedback on the blog

Thanks again to everyone who sent us feedback through our most recent survey. We've read through all your comments, and we're going to be making some changes to our posts based on your thoughts. A few things that you suggested that we'll be incorporating in the next few months:
  • How Google tools like Analytics and Insights for Search can be used to improve AdWords results
  • How to track AdWords results to measure profits and return on investment
  • Case studies on how others have used AdWords to improve their business
  • More information on advertising industry trends
  • Specific, real-life implementation tips for new tools and features
Look for posts that will incorporate more of these themes in the months to come.