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#12DaysofStrategy: What to Expect from the Post Christmas Sale Period

While you read this, hopefully you are already reveling in what a successful festive period you’re having and looking forward to maximizing a very significant sales period, even with the rise of Black Friday. For industries outside of retail such as travel and home, this also indicates the peak of the year increasing in wider online prevalence.

So what can we expect from the Boxing Day/January sale?

Sales to be spread over a wider period due to where Christmas falls
With the 27th also a bank holiday in the UK, it’s likely we may see a slightly quieter day than normal due to consumers also having the 27th to shop. This is a trend that we saw reflected by many of our clients last year, and is something to keep in mind.

With the first Sunday of the year being the 1st it will significantly change the buying patterns of customers. We’d normally see a very strong first Sunday, especially in the home and travel sectors, but with this being the 1st we expect to see sales more evenly distributed.

Home & Travel sector changes

This will still be a strong period for both sectors, but there will need to be flexibility in the way you work, as what we’re currently seeing in buying patterns and product choices from customers may vary.

A change in store behavior?

Could this be the end of the mad Boxing Day rush in-store? With parliament discussing whether stores should be forced to close on Boxing Day, this could see massive gains for online retailers, with more customers shopping from a mobile device or desktop in the comfort of their own homes, and a potential shift in how companies split their sales items between store and online.

Similarly to the run up to Christmas being impacted by Black Friday, there are a lot of external factors in when public holidays fall, the state of the market, and how this will impact consumer behaviours. Expect to see the sales trends from last year vary both in when they fall, but also in the products ranges being purchased.

#12DaysofStrategy: How does Christmas on Sunday Effect Shopping Behaviours?

Christmas falling on a Sunday leaves an entire day free for last minute shopping, sometimes referred to as “Panic Saturday”. In addition to this retailers may also see instances of showrooming, whereby a consumer sees an item in-store but completes their purchase online, sometimes at a lower price.

A typical consumer experiences a digital touch at some point along their journey to an in-store conversion. Hence, to make the most of this year’s Panic Saturday on Christmas Eve, retailers should consider how they can best leverage their digital channels to drive in-store conversions for last minute shoppers, and also ensure that they are prepared for showrooming consumers to make their purchases online following an in-store visit.

For last minute buyers in the run-up to Panic Saturday, information such as click & collect deadlines, and store information such as locations and opening times are necessary. Both sitelinks and location ad extensions can help with this and drive a consumer from visiting your retailer online to in-store. On Panic Saturday itself, local inventory ads will be imperative in creating a digital storefront and enabling a user to find the exact item they want, and then driving them to your store. Again, location extensions are important; search queries involving “near me” have historically peaked over the Christmas period, and so the easier a consumer can find your store, the better.

For showrooming consumers it is the use of singular marketing messaging across your channels which will create a consistent user journey. Being the opposite of in-store last minute buyers, this presents an opportunity to use sequential messaging for showrooming consumers to increase brand affinity and conversion rates.

Even with two categories of consumers that we can potentially expect on Christmas Eve, the common thread between these consumers is the importance of mobile devices. Last minute shoppers will be using their phones to find stores which stock the items they want, or store information such as directions. Showrooming consumers can be conducting their online research on the go using their mobile devices and may make their online purchases on the spot.

Ensuring mobile websites are fully optimised to capture this traffic and serve the user the most relevant information will be important in order to make the most of this peak for retailers during the festive season.

Hopefully these tips and insights from cross-device performance and cross-channel attribution post-Panic Saturday can enable retailers to make the most of Christmas Day falling on a Sunday, and increase revenue between offline and online activities.

Stay tuned to more from our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy‘ blog series.

Black Friday Online Sales Performance 2016

There was a lot of talk before Black Friday suggesting that this season would not see nearly the same growth as it had in previous years. In fact, advertisers anticipated that in-store sales would take a massive hit as most people turned to the internet for the majority of their shopping. Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, we can accurately determine what success the massive shopping day actually received.

According to Sky News, “Black Friday failed to deliver a double-digit surge in online sales growth while high street shopping visits unexpectedly rose, according to industry figures.”

“Online purchases climbed by 6.7% compared to last year but this well short of a forecast for 25%, and was a big slowdown compared with a rise of 31% in 2015.

Footfall – a measure of shopper visits – was up by 2%, with high street growth at 2.8% beating retail park and shopping centre growth. Footfall was expected to decline by 5%.

We’ve taken a look at a sample base of our client activity and determined our own stats from the holiday.

Black Friday Performance

From the data collected, we found that (on average) Black Friday revenue was up by 13% year on year (YoY), with an 8% YoY increase for Cyber Monday.

black-friday-year-on-year-stats

  • Black Friday increased its dominance over Cyber Monday in terms of traffic, conversion rate and revenue:
    • Black Friday saw 251% more traffic, 384% more revenue, and a 152% higher conversion rate compared to the November average.
    • Cyber Monday only saw 172% more traffic, 190% more revenue, and a 114% higher conversion rate compared to the November average.

black-friday-vs-cyber-monday-performance

 

Breakdown By Device

black-friday-2016-device-breakdown

  • 55% of traffic on Black Friday was generated on mobile devices. This is up from 46% last year.
  • 38% of Black Friday Revenue was driven from mobile devices which is up from 31% last year.
  • Not surprisingly based on last year’s trends, revenue from desktop and tablet dropped by 4%  YoY.
  • Mobile and tablet traffic increased over the Saturday and Sunday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

black-friday-2016-stats-by-day-and-device

Time of Day Performance by Device

Black Friday continues to show a daytime dominated trend with desktop and mobile revenue peaking before midday. Tablet, however, continues to perform best during the evening.

black-friday-revenue-by-time-of-dayblack-friday-time-of-day-performance

 

Performance by Country

  • Looking at the performance uplift in markets outside of the UK, US, and Canada which have traditionally performed well on Black Friday:
    • France saw the biggest uplift in traffic generating nearly 2.5x the November daily average.
    • Germany, Ireland, and the Nordic markets also saw significant uplifts in traffic.
    • Spain saw the highest uplift in revenue on Black Friday, generating nearly 7x the November daily average.

black-friday-performance-by-country

 

With Black Friday gone, Christmas is fast approaching. If you want to make sure your sales continue during the holiday period check out our “12 Day of Christmas Strategy” blog series for all the latest inside tips to achieve the best performance possible.

‘Miracle off Oxford Street’: The Shift from In-store to Online

Black Friday is kicking it up a notch with more shoppers than ever moving from out on the streets, to inside their homes, as online shopping is expected to skyrocket during the start of the holiday season.

The Brick-and-Mortar Decline

Retailer information specialist, Verdict, has predicted that retailers will see will see a sharp downturn in brick-and-mortar sales this Black Friday. This doesn’t seem to have many retailers sweating at the collar, even though it looks like the shop-shunning trend will continue this season.  Retailers will try and stem the loss of Christmas sales, and the mounting costs associated with Black Friday, such as additional staff, and an increase in operational requirements.

Even in the US, the birthplace of Black Friday, retailers such as Target have implemented a longer shopping period, rather than relying on a one-day frenzy. Target rolled out a 10-day shopping extravaganza entitled: “10 Days of Deals” that discounts certain product ranges over the course of the period.

UK retailers cited shopping fatigue, and administrative chaos as part of the reason some have turned their backs on Black Friday. They feel they have been forced to offer deep discounts for several weeks that practically give away items and cut into regular priced Christmas sales. Another point to consider is that while Americans have the day off after Thanksgiving, no such holiday exists in the UK, meaning in-store turn out is bound to be lower due to work.

The unmanageable influx of foot traffic, operational woes and skewing of traditional Christmas revenues have many UK retailers disillusioned with in-store Black Friday events. Sixty-one percent see the shopping day as an ‘unprofitable and unsustainable promotion.

The Online Shift

It sounds like doom and gloom, but for retailers who are still participating in the largest revenue generating day of the year, Black Friday will see growth in online shopping. This means retailers will really need to be on top of their online strategy.

For the reasons stated above, in addition to the increase in mobile and tablet purchases, we are expecting to see the majority of shopping happen online this holiday season. In order to maximise sales, retailers will need to prepare for a heavy influx of online traffic and have everything in place to avoid website crashes or slow loading times.

Consumers have shown a preference for online shopping; tired of battling the crowds for a limited number of products and returning home frustrated and empty handed. A few quick taps, and the product can be delivered or collected hassle free. Black Friday will continue this eCommerce trend and survive digitally in the UK, even if in-store sales slump. Retailers with a strong multi-channel strategy in place will reap the rewards of the growth in online shopping.

The Future of Programmatic Advertising with Kristina Kasalova

Programmatic Account Manager, Kristina Kasalova, recently spoke at the Global Academy of Digital Marketing’s (GADM), “Evolution of Programmatic” hosted by AppNexus. Alongside industry experts, Kristina discussed the future of programmatic by exploring the ways in which it’s evolved over the past five years, and useful stratgeies for brands to implement for the changes that lie ahead.

What do you see as the biggest barrier to programmatic advertising at the moment? And what is being done to progress past this?

Programmatic has become mainstream now which means a lot of simplifications and misunderstandings of the term are present among new users. There is still some misunderstanding that programmatic, or even more so, RTB, is an efficient but somewhat dodgy way of getting performance out of your display activity. For others, while this notion is no longer case, see programmatic as a singular answer for everything without understanding the underlying principles. Programmatic is a very wide term nowadays and we need to be clear about it, especially when someone is new to the concept.

Programmatic buys have evolved radically in recent months and we are now able to use them with confidence across all stages of the customer journey – awareness, research, branding, remarketing and re-engagement. All of the above use programmatic as a principle, however the execution is different, and it is the key to understanding the variability within the industry, and to finding the option which best suits your marketing goals and business objectives. A crucial piece is to understand the variety under the term “programmatic” and learn a bit about differences between the options.

What really differentiates programmatic today from programmatic 5 years ago?

A couple of years back, programmatic meant audience buys across sub-par quality inventory, using standardized flash creatives and broad data segments. Fortunately, this is no longer the case – first and third party data is much richer now, and allows us to target even niche audiences at particular stages of their customer journey. We can target from discovery, through research, and the consideration phases, all the way up to re-engagement, and keeping brand loyalty.
Inventory quality has improved significantly in only 2-3 years. This was driven both by publishers, who became savvy about opportunities of programmatic (preferred deals or programmatic guaranteed can be as profitable as traditional direct buys), and ad exchanges, who stepped up and started to monitor and filter poor inventory in their marketplaces. It was also picked up on by advertisers and agencies who started to use brand safety and viewability verification tools and hence, created demand for better quality inventory.

Creative options have grown as well, partially driven by wider use of an HTML5 format, although this was initially semi-forced onto advertisers by major players in the industry. HTML5 is more transparent and offers less heavy loading than flash files, which gives advertisers the opportunity to use more engaging and high-impact formats with embedded videos, or additional features (surveys, galleries, microsites, etc.). Publishers are also more open to accept various ad size formats through RTB, which provides more options for their creative ideas. Altogether, this means that is it easier than ever to create engaging ads in various formats.

Where do you think advertisers should really be spending their time and energy when it comes to their campaigns?

Data and creative. Marketers need to know their target audience and that’s when the owned data come in handy. Even advertisers who have little to no experience with display advertising almost certainly have data which can help them understand what their audience likes, and how to reach them more effectively. Insights from Google Analytics, from transactions on the site, PPC activity, or their CRM database, all of these can be used to inform the initial targeting profile or even multiple profiles. The initial statistics from existing data can be used in campaigns, tested and refined further with additional insights on user preferences and behavior. Using the data will help brands become more relevant to audiences and spend their budget more efficiently on the vast scale of inventory available in display. At later stages you can look into using third party data or build a custom data model through a data management platform, but always make sure you know what your goals are in terms of the data you have, want to collect, and need, for more refined targeting.

Think of creative as an online shop window. In many cases, users know nothing about the brand or product being advertised, hence, it is important that the creative is engaging, trustworthy and relevant for them. The relevancy is related to targeting and data to a high degree, but engagement and trustworthiness are the design factors. Creatives should prepare users for what they can expect on the website, and from the product or service. An interesting ad is more likely to spark attention and engage users, creating the desire to explore the product further. This only works if the ad is trusted. If the ad is not deemed trustworthy, why would they bother to come to the site and convert? So although flashy ads can spark attention, think about whether this is actually sending the message you want to the customer. As in a brick-and-mortar business, you might not get second chance to talk to the same user and convince them about your product, so having a trustworthy creative is crucial.

How can advertisers use data more effectively?

The most efficient use of data comes from a clear understanding of the objectives you want to achieve and being aware of the options available to you.

Knowing your goals will guide you through the definition of what data you need and also how to go through the journey of accomplishing it. Being aware of the options on the market will give you edge when thinking about actual implementation and help you find the best solution for your brand. This means that you should know what data you have readily available  and also know how to use it to achieve your goals.

For instance, if you want to know what customer segments buy what type of product in your eShop, you most likely know what items are sold together, and what day of the week and time of day works best, how many times they come to your site before completing a purchase, how they came to your site, and many other details. Your site analytics might even give you an estimate of the demography of your site visitors. All of this helps paint a picture of your audience. Once you put all this information together, it will be easier to identify the missing parts of data which will help you refine your strategy. Some of the missing data might be available to buy from 3rd parties, others, you will need to gather yourself through testing. This is a continuous process as your company goals and audience evolves.

Download the presentation slides here: Recalculating Creative Trajectory

Want to know more about 2016’s trends? Download our mid-year review 

How Google Shopping Can Benefit you this Holiday Season

As the second holiday season unfolds for Google Shopping, merchants can feel confident that this heavily direct-response focused channel will reap substantial rewards during the last few months of 2015.

Here are some key points advertisers should know about Google Shopping and consumer trends going into this holiday season:

Merry Mobile: The Virtual Holiday Shopper
While shopping days like Black Friday will remain big for brick and mortar retailers, online merchants are closing the gap with the help of mobile. People are now using their mobiles as virtual shopping carts and shop assistants, signalling a dramatic change in consumer behaviour.

Online purchases have dramatically increased over the past year thanks to mobile, and it’s expected to continue to rise over the course of 2016. It is the merchants who are advertising on mobile this holiday season that will take their sales to the next level since 40% of holiday shopping now takes place online, and 48% of shoppers indicated that they start their holiday shopping well before Black Friday. Google Shopping is the perfect advertising platform to take advantage of this holiday mobile rush.

Retailers can expect to see a massive shift in the way consumers do their holiday shopping as purchases made via mobile and tablet increase. Shopping is no longer a frantic activity that takes place on a few peak days over the holiday season; consumers are now researching and making purchases while they sip coffee, walk the dog, watch TV or stand in line at the bank. Mobile is creating a space for these “micro-moments,” shopping can occur anytime, anywhere.  Inside Adwords suggested, “Shopping moments will replace shopping marathons. There is no longer a sense of urgency since every day is shopping day.”

NMPi Account Director, Leonie Tamkin remarked, “Part of this shift has come from the fact that online we’ve seen such a huge surge in purchases on Black Friday, with more people wanting to be prepared early. Merchants have allocated more of their digital budgets into Black Friday shopping. Black Friday is a time when consumers are going to be searching for the best deals which is where Google Shopping becomes more important as a price comparison tool.”

What’s Missing: Google Shopping Assortment Report
How can retailers take advantage of these shopping micro-moments? By optimising their feeds and staying on top of the latest shopping trends with the newly launched Shopping Assortment Report, merchants can review and refine the products they are offering. The report displays the most popular items that competitors are showing ads for, and gaining traffic from, that aren’t in their product feeds. It also provides information on the benchmark prices for these recommended items.

This information will be vital as the holiday season kicks into high gear as it gives merchants important information about potential missing revenue that can be easily recouped by adjusting their product range and stocking that product. Merchants can review the last 14 days of activity on the Shopping Assortment Report to determine what’s working, what they’ve missed, and note changes or trends occurring over the holiday season.  The report also encourages more fluidity between digital and buying teams from the advertisers’ side because these reports can help shape buying strategies.

Online Activity and In-Store Holiday Purchases
Retailers looking for a successful holiday season must blend their virtual and physical presence. Online activity and in-store activity are no longer separate segments of the path to purchase. Consumers are seamlessly combining online and in-store activities blurring the line between online and offline purchasing.

Google Shopping has honed in on this trend with local inventory ads that provide consumers with important details such as stock availability, location, and product detail at their local stores when they’re on the move. This feature goes hand in hand with the increasing trend of researching online, then purchasing offline. It’s also a great method to drive footfall for the purchase of products that require more consideration. Google Shopping has also made mobile purchases even easier by implementing a feature that allows customers to swipe over the desired product to reveal relevant information. This could translate into an increase in holiday sales.

Brick and mortar stores have increasingly become distribution centres where holiday shoppers come to retrieve online purchases. Merchants eager to increase their take this holiday season need to adjust their marketing strategies to align with these trends in consumer behaviour, while continuing to provide a convenient and personal shopping experience.

Summary
Google shopping can offer a big boost to retailers this holiday season if merchants heed these changes in shopping habits.  87% of consumers do their research online first before finalising a purchase in-store.  By understanding this change in consumer behaviour and the growing impact that mobile has on the way people shop, Google shopping gives merchants the opportunity to take advantage of these micro moments, the popularity of location based shopping, and to keep on top of product trends.

What-is-Google-Shopping



NMPi’s Damien Bennett Speaks on The Evolution of eCommerce at our 2015 Seminar

NMPi’s Head of Strategy, Damien Bennett, talked to the audience at Evolving Digital about what advertisers are facing in today’s digital world, and where the market is going in eCommerce by identifying two important trends: Machine Learning and Payments Options.

The pace of change in digital marketing has been extraordinary and it is radically changing consumer behaviour and the way advertisers approach conversion. For instance, there are certain apps have changed the way consumers approach their everyday lives. Uber have revolutionised the way we travel in just a short period of time. They’ve simplified the travel process by tapping into consumer aversion to carrying cash for a taxi ride. This recognition has enabled them to dominate the taxi scene in London, and across the globe just by simplifying a process.

Music giant, Spotify is another app that has changed our lives by has profoundly changing the way we listen to music. It’s given listeners the ability to discover artists they’re likely to be interested in by observing what they currently listen to, and using artificial intelligence to make appropriate suggestions. It has become a formidable discovery tool for any music aficionado.

Machine Learning
Machine Learning is not only a tool used to make our lives easier as advertisers and consumers, but has really made a difference to the way consumers behave in regards to things such as watching movies, looking up directions and taking vacations. Companies like Netflix, or LoveFilm have enabled us to discover new content, much in the same vein as Spotify, by suggesting films or TV programmes to a viewer based on what they’ve been watching. It uses data to drive personalised experiences.

Google Maps is another good example of machine learning; it plugs into live traffic data to give you the best possible journey. It’s a great example of personalised data being used to make our lives easier.

Retailers are catching on. Cosmetic companies like L’Oréal are driving a far more personalised experience by creating a programme called Beauty Genius where the consumer plugs in personal details about what they’re looking for along with information about their complexion. It then suggest products based on the information they’ve provided.

Google Now is giving consumers the ability to organise holidays; your tickets, your bookings and travel information can now all be stored on the Google Now platform. Google can then serve customised ads based on minute details such as the temperature of the place they are travelling to according to what they’ve stored on this platform.

Payment Options
Paying for products and services has become easier with the explosion in payment options introduced over the past few years. Paypal, eWallets, and smartwatches are going to make paying easier, and as a result, conversion better on mobile. A trend in payment options is the introduction of “Buy Now” buttons in the US market by Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Google have also launched a “Buy Now” button in the US exclusively on mobile. These buttons allow you to buy products directly on the websites without ever leaving their platform. If endorsements, such as products used by Sports stars, were combined with a “Buy Now” button, this could become a very powerful tool.

What does this mean for the future of eCommerce?
The customer journey will become infinitely shorter. If advertisers serve an ad on Twitter with a “Buy Now” button, the user can buy that product right away instead of doing research or comparison shopping. Immediacy is key.

Transactions will take place across a wider range of channels. Your website will no longer be the main point where people transact. With “Buy Now” buttons, people can purchase directly through search, social media, or have transactions in a number of different places and channels. Payment options will see a definite change in consumer behaviour, specifically around new customer acquisitions.

Will it become harder or easier? That’s difficult to say. On the one hand, there are fewer opportunities for impulse shopping since customers are being spoon feed. There is also less control over advertising creatives as companies clamp down on what they want to see in their ads. Brands are becoming better at using different channels to cross sell and upsell to customers.

Bennet concluded on a positive note, saying it could be much better for marketers because it reduces some of the barriers to advertising by levelling the playing field. The need for overly advanced platforms to sell products and services won’t be necessary. While there is some concern around the introduction of the “Buy Now” buttons, Bennett indicated that early adopters will be rewarded, and encouraged agencies to embrace the changes.

Download Damien’s Slides: The Evolution of Ecommerce

5 Secrets to a Tip Top PLA Campaign

Product Listing Ads (PLAs) provide a richer and more engaging search experience for shoppers. With the share of spend on PLA campaigns increasing, online retailers are investing more time and budget towards this ad format.

 

Thanks to the targeting functions available within PLA groups, a whole new world has opened up in terms of how we can optimise PLAs and Google Shopping pages. This in turn is helping advertisers to drive more performance from their PLA campaigns.

 

In this article we share our top five tips for managing and optimising your PLA campaigns;

 

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of structure – Use the Product Data Feed

As a starting point, use the Product Data Feed as the foundation for your PLA campaign structure. This is essential because Google directly interacts with the product feed to decide where and when an ad is shown. We would recommend that you continually monitor your data feed to make sure it is correct and fully up-to-date with your product inventory. This will ensure that your PLAs show the correct products and description details in response to relevant search queries.

 

2. Set up the right targeting method – Target by category, not brand

One of the first goals of a PLA campaign is to have the right bid set depending on the product being sold. Instead of using keywords, PLAs use targets which provide more flexibility over how and when you want your ads to serve. It is important to have a targeting structure that relates to profitability and provides the maximum ROI. Therefore, we would recommend grouping products together that are similar in type and price, rather than targeting each category purely by brand. Grouping each by AOV rather than purely by brand will ensure that each bid placed is appropriate to the expected return of each sale.

 

3. Place the right bid – A good baseline

In the same vein as top tip two, it is important to set a suitable bid according to the product you are advertising. We would recommend that you firstly organise your products into similar categories and prices. Then you will be able to use data on their average price per product, expected conversion rate and your target profit to find an appropriate entry bid. As the AOV and CR change, you can amend your bids accordingly to drive performance.

 

4. Have a safety net – Use a ‘catch all’ target

Websites change constantly. Therefore it is vital to ensure that new products don’t slip through your net and fail to appear when relevant search queries are made. We would recommend that you create an ad group targeting all products set on the lowest bid. This is a simple and low maintenance solution to enable you to profit from newly added products.

 

5. Narrow your targeting

With time and data you will be able to see what is working and what is not. Using these insights, we would recommend that you then optimise your campaign to a more granular level. This may be to take one category and create a new campaign targeting specific products. Or alternatively using your own custom made Adwords groupings in the Product Data Feed or simply adding certain negatives…it’s up to you!

 

 

We hope that you found these tips useful!

 

Good luck with your PLA campaigns and if you have any further questions on PLA set up and optimisation please do call us on 020 7186 2100.