Rakuten and Verizon Media have partnered to deliver commerce experiences for Rakuten merchants and Yahoo users this holiday season. The offering is a differentiator for Yahoo Shopping.
Rakuten runs a cashback and coupon site with more than 3,500 merchants that used to be known as eBates. With the new partnership, Verizon Media is offering Yahoo Shopping and Yahoo Mail users access to exclusive cashback rewards from more than 50 online retailers through Rakuten, including Nordstrom Rack, Nike, Disney and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Why we should care
Verizon Media, which owns the Yahoo properties as well as publications HuffPost, TechCrunch and others, is focusing its monetization efforts on digital commerce.
The new Yahoo Shopping launched this fall. It features price comparisons, a promotions calendar, trending deals and now cashback offers. Yahoo Mail web and app users will see promotions that take them to a “Rakuten-powered shopping experience.”
“At Verizon Media we’re closing the loop between content and commerce, and providing engaging journeys for our users to help them discover the things they love,” said Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media in a statement. He said a rewards program has been part of the plan since launching the commerce experiences on Yahoo, Yahoo Shopping and Yahoo Mail.
More on the news
Yahoo Shopping will be the hub powering commerce-related experiences across Verizon Media brands, including curated and branded content on its publications.
Verizon has also introduced shoppable video and editorial content, hotspot images this fall, and said it is continuing its successful immersive AR/XR ad experiences.
Earlier this month, Verizon Media launched a shoppable video series with tennis star Serena Williams on Yahoo Shopping. Users can click to purchase S by Serena products featured in the videos.
About The Author
Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.
As an advertiser, it always feels like the holiday season is abnormally long. It starts in August when I’m initiating conversations with our clients about the upcoming holidays and what it means for them. The majority of my clients are small businesses with small budgets, making this an important time of year. Not only do we have to be careful with our spend, but the revenue that is generated during this season is crucial. A lot of the accounts I work with will feel a strain in their business if they don’t earn enough during the holidays to help them make it through the slower months.
The unique constraints that small businesses face with advertising carry over to the holiday season, which is why planning your calendar, knowing what you’re measuring and being intentional with your budget are so important.
One of the challenges of running a small account during the holiday season is planning out exactly which campaigns you will run when. There are three main ways I approach the calendar.
Use historical data
First, use all the data you have access to in order to identify what worked last year and what didn’t. We have a client that is in the hospitality space and has been with us for three holiday seasons. We have a lot of data about what has worked in the past, and we use it to identify the platforms we want to use as well as similar campaigns that we want to run every year. If you don’t have data from last season, use what you do have to make an informed guess.
A caveat here is to ensure you aren’t looking only at last-click data or return on ad spend at the campaign level. Looking at purchase path and assisted revenue is important when identifying what you deem successful. If a specific campaign plays an important role at the beginning of the purchase path, cutting it is going to affect overall revenue.
Another important item to keep in mind is any major changes in your audience or offerings over the course of the year. Ask yourself if you can really make the assumption that what worked last year will likely work again if there have been major platform or audience changes. This also applies if a new competitor is in your space.
Trim it down
Chances are, you don’t have the budget to do everything that you want to do. It is the reality with small accounts, there isn’t enough money to go around. The last thing you want is to end up with a low performing holiday campaign because budget was spread too thin.
There are three things to keep in mind when trimming your campaigns down – budget, capacity and creative.
First, score your ideal campaigns according to priority. For us, high priority campaigns are those that have played the biggest role in affecting the overall bottom line – a combination of direct and assisted revenue. Look at costs from the season last year, take into account rises in cost-per-click (CPC) and the typical length of the season for the business. Some of our clients only run holiday ads from Nov. 11 through Dec. 10, and others run from mid-October through December. You additionally want to take into account any extra budget you may need for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, assuming you participate. Assign your campaigns their ideal budget alongside their priority and look critically at what does and does not fit.
Second, look at the business’s overall capacity. We have clients who are two-person businesses, and although demand exists we know that once they hit capacity, they physically cannot create or sell any more stock. Take this into account when allocating out what you will and will not run. Is there a point where this will happen for you during the season?
Finally, there is a chance that some of your top-performing and ideal campaigns will require new creative for this year, or even midway through the season. Some creative can be reused year-over-year, but you generally want something new to avoid ad exhaustion, as small businesses can have small audiences. If a high scoring campaign that you really want to run needs new creative, chances are something else will have to go, especially if creating that asset costs additional budget.
Chart it out
Once you have a plan ironed out, create yourself and your team a GANNT chart with details about execution. We have clients that add our digital marketing component into their larger GANNT charts and while it is excellent to see where digital fits in the overall picture, we find it extraordinarily helpful to maintain our own copy.
This is also important as with smaller clients, they will typically have one point of contact, one team member who is going to be helping with their whole holiday campaign. I’ll hop in for strategy discussions, but the implementation and actual running of the campaign is up to a single person. That can leave a lot of room for error, and an individualized GANNT chart combined with Asana tasks detailing starts/stops/finishes helps us run smoothly throughout the season.
Use historical data to figure out what campaigns you want to run
Look at overall contribution to revenue, not just last click ad spend
Trim it down according to budget, capacity or creative
Chart and task it out
When evaluating the success of your campaign, we stick with the metrics that were used the year prior in order to evaluate year-over-year growth, which is our biggest KPI within the holiday season. While we will look at return on ad spend (ROAS), increases in overall revenue generated is our primary goal. There is an exception to this, we will use ROAS as a success metric if a client sells out of inventory each season. If we helped them sell out faster while spending less on ads, then that is a success.
One note about analytics is that it is so important to tag and name your campaigns properly. Use UTM tags that align with not only the platform and type of ad, but the holiday season. You’re doing future you a big favor by tagging your campaigns and naming them in a way that allows for easy future comparisons.
Stick with similar metrics year-over-year
Look at overall growth/revenue increase instead of campaign level ROAS metrics
Tag and name your campaigns properly to save future you a headache and allow for easier reporting
Budgets are a hot topic these days. From stories about Google Ads not respecting their own twice a day budget rule to increasing CPCs across the board, there’s always something to be thinking about.
One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t spend all your budget is focusing on smaller audiences that you hypothesize will drive revenue. If you have a limited budget for the season, focus spend on proven remarketing and email lists. This is especially important during the sale periods, where customers who know you and have previously engaged with your business are more likely to purchase. This is a great way to approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
You can also use lookalike audiences of people who have purchased in past years to narrow down your targeting for top of funnel campaigns.
Know your best performing days
If you have historical data from last season, use it to determine the start time of your holiday sprint. If you’re seasonal, when did traffic return last year? When did purchases rise? Are there certain days of the week or hours of the day that are more profitable? To maximize your budget, look at all of this information and determine when to start your holiday campaigns, whether or not to advertise seven days a week, and where you should be using bid adjustments to maximize revenue.
An example of a seasonal client analytics is below. The holiday traffic came to their site this year earlier than we anticipated. We were going to run ads beginning Nov. 12 but looking at the rise in organic traffic in early October, we decided to run an early bird campaign and have seen a jump in year-over-year revenue as a result of paying attention to the early spike.
Use a script to help you manage
The final budget tip for the season is to avoid that pesky overspending in Google Ads by using a budget script. This piece of advice comes from Duane Brown of Take Some Risk, who recommends this script to limit overspending. The one caveat is that you do have to remember to re-activate what gets paused the next day, either through another script or a rule.
Using a script to ensure your daily budgets don’t get out of control is a helpful way to maximize results throughout the season and prevent Google Ads from taking away your budgetary control.
Limit big sale days to your most qualified audiences
Know what days and times you should be loading your budget for
Pay attention to seasonal traffic and adjust accordingly
Use a script to prevent overages
One of the best things that you can do for your future self is to make notes as you go. What worked, what didn’t, what UTM tags you used, your GANNT charts, and why you made the choices you did.
We always think we will remember what we did with our calendars, how we managed success and what budgets we used and why, but instead of starting over every season, keep notes so that when you’re planning your 2020 campaigns you have something to refer back to.
More about retail for the winter holidays
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Amalia Fowler is the director of marketing services at Snaptech Marketing. She manages a team of strategists who develop holistic digital marketing strategies for clients. Passionate about testing, marketing psychology and digital strategy, Amalia speaks frequently at industry conferences and events. Outside of marketing, she’s a coffee, paddleboarding and Vancouver enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter @amaliaefowler for all things marketing related.
The onslaught of holiday shopping surveys has begun. And consultancy Deloitte is out of the gate early with its2019 holiday retail survey.
Keep in mind that consumer surveys are aspirational and don’t always align with real-world behavior. Still, they reflect consumer intent and are worth paying attention to as a directional indicator of important trends.
Experiences will consume roughly a third of budgets. Retailers can expect consumers to spend roughly $1,500 this holiday season, according to the Deloitte survey of 4,400 U.S. adults, conducted in September. Yet, more than a third of that spend will be devoted to “experiences”: entertaining at home, traveling and eating at restaurants.
More online spending, but offline still dominates. As in the past, the share of consumer spending devoted to e-commerce will grow — up two points to 59% of holiday shopping this year. In-store spending will be flat at 36% of the total, according to the survey.
However, contradicting the broader implications of this finding, e-commerce spending in the U.S. in Q4 2018 was just 10.1% of total retail sales, according to U.S. government data. E-commerce will not be 59% of total Q4 retail sales.
Early shopping. Deloitte also found that holiday shopping is “expected to peak” in early to mid-December, driven largely by early deals and the Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping week. The firm also said that, “Cyber Monday has eclipsed Black Friday in terms of importance across all generational cohorts, though Gen Z and millennials rely most on Cyber Monday deals.”
Another interesting data point is that consumers prefer free shipping to fast shipping. And most consumers are willing to wait between three and seven days for packages to arrive. Those who preferred fast shipping want their packages in less than two days. Amazon has trained consumers to expect this and now we’re moving to one-day shipping scenarios.
70% will shop on their phones. Consumers also anticipate buying more on their smartphones this year, with 70% saying they plan to shop and buy on mobile devices. Mobile retail traffic has eclipsed the desktop for the past couple of years, with mobile commerce sales growing significantly. However, the majority of e-commerce transactions still take place on PCs.
As in the past, Deloitte reports that consumers will be using multiple resources to help them with their shopping research and buying. The firm found, interestingly, that social media will not have as much influence over consumer spending this year as in the past. This sentiment may be a general statement of consumer disapproval of social media rather than any predictor of actual behavior.
Social ‘not a major driver of product research.’ Deloitte says, “Social and print media are not major drivers of product research and are wielding much less of an influence on consumers this holiday season. And the value of the in-store experience remains solid, especially for products that consumers want to see and touch before purchase. Fully half intend to find their inspiration in the store.”
Why we should care. Again, it should be stressed that what people report in surveys often doesn’t turn out to be what they do in practice. For example, marketers should not read the above chart and pull their social media spending. As in years past, it’s going to take a thoughtful, multi-channel approach to win.
However, as the survey recommends, retailers should front-load their promotions to catch early shoppers. They should also focus on mobile as an entry point for consumers but recognize transactions will still happen on PC and offline. And, as always, they should remove as much friction as possible from the checkout process.
About The Author
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.
Remember the struggle of finding the perfect gift for all the different people in your life? So. Much. Pressure.
As PPC marketers, we have the added responsibility of promoting the giftable products our clients sell and making sure we’re pushing the right products to the right audience. It’s almost double the pressure.
Microsoft Advertising (my employer) has analyzed all the data and trends from last year to bring you key insights to help you optimize your campaigns. Bonus: This also serves as a handy, data-backed gift guide, for double the win!
Grab yourself a comforting cup of hot chocolate, it’s time to dig in.
Step 1: Understand the differences in gift-shopping patterns between Hanukkah and Christmas
Buying gifts is buying gifts, right? Not quite. The research revealed that gift-giving behavior differs significantly between Hanukkah and Christmas.
It starts with the length of the decision journeys.
Hanukkah shoppers are instant converters as ~70% of users began and ended on the same day. Conversely, ~70% of Christmas shoppers took multiple days to complete their journeyi.
While Christmas and Hanukkah shoppers took 23 and 5 days on average respectively to convert, if we dive deeper into the overall journey lengths, we see a marked difference.
With Christmas shoppers, we see multiple spikes spread out over a longer period: