Shelby Gagnon

Product Marketing Manager
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Making the love connection in time for Valentine’s Day

If your brand is in the business of warming the heart, there is one moment of the year that stands out: Valentine’s Day. However, the business of finding and manifesting love is a year ‘round affair; insights on both Valentine’s Day and online dating can be valuable focus areas for savvy marketers.

The desire to invest in love is on the rise – in the US, Valentine’s Day saw a total spend of $18.9 billion in 2015, a 10% increase from 2014.[1] For the fourth largest spending holiday of the year, brands need to be aware of who is spending online, what they are buying and how.

When planning ahead for paid search campaigns for Feb. 14, it’s important to maximize your chances of reaching the full scope of those who will be celebrating. In June, there were 88 million retail searchers active across Bing Ads who represent 36% of all retail paid clicks and 53M of these are not reached on Google[2].

bing ads valentines day

So, what are people searching for in the lead up to Valentine’s Day on Bing Ads?  The majority are looking for the appropriate gift (40%), while 16% are offering flowers, 15% jewelry and 10% want to offer something sweet (see graph below). 

Interestingly, the Bing Ads audience, compared to Google, is 11% more likely to have spent $100-199 on flowers, 23% more likely to have spent $500 or more on jewelry and 8% more likely to have used paid service for gift certificates in the last 6 months.[3] 

It is also good for brand owners to understand when people are going to be looking for the perfect package, bouquet or necklace, as well as where they will be looking. 

Put simply, Valentine’s Day shopping heats up in the first 2 weeks of February, with a particularly burning set of activity on the 13th and 14th itself, and over one-third of searches take place on mobile.  It could well be worth wooing shoppers with longer lead cross-screen campaigns to get ahead of the competition.

bing ads valentines day

Should this timeframe seem a little tight, remember that people are seeking the love connection throughout the year – in fact 10% of US adults use online dating sites.[4] The number of online searches for dating sites on Bing are the highest in March, April and May, with secondary peaks in July, October and December.

bing ads valentines day

Here are additional Bing Ads insights into Online Dating for digital marketers, with key takeaways summarized below:

  • Bing Ads has a unique and sizable audience of retail searchers (36% of retail paid clicks in the US)
  • Bing Ads retail searchers are active online consumers – more likely to have spent a significant amount on the most common Valentine’s gifts in the past 6 months.
  • Love is a personal thing and people are increasingly turning to their most personal of devices to search for purchases related to the heart – over 30% of Valentine’s Day and Online Dating related searches occur on mobile.
  • It's never too late to make the love connection! There are peaks of activity with retail searchers looking for the right gift for those they love throughout the year.

 

Go to Bing Ads Insights to learn more about CTR over time (week, day and hour), by category, as well as CPC over time and the optimal combinations of terms for ad copy for both Valentine’s Day and Online Dating audiences.

For additional details on insights related to both Valentine’s Day and online dating, take a look at our SlideShare presentations below:

 

Questions? Comments?
As always, feel free to ping us on Twitter with anything Bing Ads related. For queries specific to our marketing insights, send them to me directly: @ShelbyGagnon.

[1] National Retail Federation Monthly Consumer Survey, January 2015

[2] comScore gSearch (custom), US, June 2015: industry categories based on comScore classifications.

[3] comScore Plan Metrix, US, January 2015

[4] Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Sprinz Tracking Survey, April 17- May 19 2013

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Four tips to charge your new device campaigns

As summer fades to fall, consumers start anticipating the new smartphones, tablets, and wearables that will heat up the holidays, and the accessories that go with them. It’s also the time when device manufacturers often announce new products. For new device advertisers, September and the holidays are prime time for paid search campaigns.

With $10.9 billion in U.S. digital ad spending related to new devices, it’s important for advertisers to have their campaigns tailored and ready for the surge in searches (eMarketer, The U.S. Telecom and Computing and Consumer Electronics Industries 2015: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Trends, May 2015). Below are four tips to help advertisers prepare for the peaks and connect with more customers.

1. Ready your campaigns for mobile

eMarketer estimates that 68% of American adults have smartphones, and that 9 in 10 smartphone owners use search (eMarketer, US Digital Users: Q1 2015 Complete Forecast, February 2015). What’s more, Bing Ads has found that smartphone users often turn to their phones when searching for their next device or accessory. For new device-related searches across Bing Ads, mobile search volume is on par with or higher than PC and tablet search volume (Microsoft internal analytics: Bing Ads, Owned & Operated, weekly data 5/31/2014-4/10/2015). For an 11-month period ending in April, mobile searches accounted for 49% of all Smartphone-related searches, 48% of all Tablet-related searches, and 41% of all Wearable-related searches. And Accessory advertisers – hold on to your hats! Mobile search volume for Accessories-related searches was more than double PC and tablet search volume – 70% versus 30%.

bing ads device campaigns

Given the size of this opportunity, advertisers need to make sure their campaigns and websites are mobile ready. To optimize their campaigns for mobile devices, advertisers should use Mobile Bid Modifiers to grab top positions and target this active audience.

2. Monitor and respond to product announcements

For Smartphone-, Tablet-, and Wearable-related searches, search volume spikes when new products are announced by the leading manufacturers. It’s important for advertisers to monitor the news and rumors around product launches, and to respond quickly to these traffic spikes. One way is to use Automated Rules to increase campaign budgets automatically when there are high click-through and conversion rates, and to raise keyword bids to keep up with the competition during the spike. This tactic is especially helpful for Smartphone advertisers, because click-through rates and cost-per-click can more than double around the spike in searches.

bing ads device campaigns

After a new product is released, advertisers can take advantage of the secondary market. Prepare for an increase in searches for the last model when consumers look to trade in their old devices or buy the last model at a discount. For example, searches for “iphone 5”, “iphone 5s”, and “iphone 5c” increased after the release of the Apple iPhone 6.

3. Plan for the holidays

Tablet-, Wearable-, and Accessories-related searches all peak during the holiday shopping season – Thanksgiving through New Year’s – when consumers shop for gifts for loved ones and themselves. To stand out from the competition, advertisers can use Product Ads to showcase their offerings or add Sitelink Extensions to highlight promotions. Closer to the holidays, advertisers can also add Location and Call Extensions to capture last-minute shoppers looking for nearby stores.

Wearable fitness trackers get an extra boost during this time as consumers start setting health and wellness goals for the New Year. Last year, “fitbit”-related searches led during the holiday season. This year, smartwatches with fitness-tracking capabilities, like the Apple Watch, may also experience a boost as consumers research new options.

bing ads device campaigns

bing ads device campaigns

4. Take advantage of high CTR and low CPC

Both Tablet and Wearables advertisers can take advantage of high click-through rates and low cost-per-click. Make sure you’re prepared for occasional search spikes by using Automated Rules to automatically adjust your keyword bids.

For Tablet-related searches on Bing Ads between June 2014 and April 2015, the average click-through rate stayed above 2%, while the average cost-per-click remained below $1.60. Unlike other categories, Tablet-related searches remained competitive after the holidays as search volume decreased and competition for “ipad”-related searches continued.

bing ads device campaigns

Because Wearables is an emerging category with high consumer interest, Wearable advertisers enjoy high click-through rates and low cost-per-click throughout the year. On Bing Ads between June 2014 and April 2015, the average click-through-rate stayed above 4%, while the average cost-per-click was below $0.60 most of the period.

bing ads device campaigns

Interested in learning more? We’ve got more search trends and shopper insights in our New Device Launch presentation:

 

For more seasonal and vertical insights, check out the Bing Ads Industry Insights Portal.

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7 tips to rule Back-to-School

From a consumer's perspective, talking about Back-to-School (BTS) shopping before the kids are even out of school for the summer may seem a bit early. From an advertiser's perspective, however, knowing that many consumers start their BTS shopping mid-summer, it makes perfect sense.

Part of being successful with PPC advertising involves researching your audience and leveraging those insights to build campaigns that have the right combination of ad copy and keywords to drive a great return on investment. Given that BTS is the second-largest retail season -- worth $74.9 billion[1] -- any advertiser hoping to boost sales during it should start planning their campaigns now so that they'll be ready to go when consumers are ready to buy.  

This year will bring big changes in shopping behavior, with more use of mobile  for searching and spending, as well as some emerging trends.[2] Expect online shopping to continue to grow; last year, 45 percent of back-to-college buys and 38 percent of K-12 items sold online.[3] Online influences in-store shopping, as well. The majority of shoppers have researched online before heading out.[4]

Here's what you need to know to rate with back-to-school shoppers:

1. Electronics rule

As classrooms go digital, laptops and tablets are the major items accounting for the increased spending. The average shopper will spend $364 on electronics of all kinds, compared to $249 for clothing, the second-largest expenditure category.

2. Mom: Chief Mobile Officer

Busy, multitasking mothers are apt to rely on mobile devices to get stuff done no matter where they are – including handling back-to-school shopping. Almost half of all moms use mobile devices to look for coupons. Beyond that, their mobile behavior is different when they're at home, where they're more apt to compare prices, browse for items online and research items on store websites. Once they hit the mall, they're more likely to check their loyalty points or scan online reviews.[5]

Almost all mothers (89 percent) say that coupons and deals are important factors in back-to-school purchase decisions.[6] You'll get high marks from mobile moms when you add Sitelink ad extensions that send them straight to your coupons or offer pages.

3. Move to mobile

Moms are not the only ones relying more on mobile. Mobile commerce overall grew 42 percent in 2014, while last August, 4 out of 10 visits to top retail sites were mobile,[7] with 22 percent of back-to-college shoppers buying right from their phones.[8]

Mobile shoppers are really different: they spend half the time on websites than those using a PC do. Smartphone users are most likely to compare prices and redeem coupons[9]. To capture mobile dollars, don't forget those Sitelink ad extensions to quickly get shoppers to the right spot. TIP: Be sure to put your most important content in the middle of the screen for maximum engagement with mobile users.

4. Mix and match

Retailers that want to get an A for effort will let shoppers buy online and pick up or return items in the store. Extra credit goes to those who offer free shipping for Back-to-School.[10]   

5. Kids are flaunting it

Do you know about "haul" videos? Video bloggers love to show off purchases in these home-made videos – and haul videos strongly influence other kids. A full 80 percent of college students say that product review sites, blogs and video blogs influence back-to-school buys,[11] while 40 percent of those who watch haul videos will go to the stores that were mentioned in them.[12]

6. Need to know

Everyone's getting even more techie, as evidenced by some emerging search terms on the Yahoo Bing Network. The top searches for tech trends include note-taking apps and tools like Microsoft OneNote, followed by wearables devices, and text-to-speech tools.[13]

bing ads back to school

7. Time it right

The Back-to-School frenzy really heats up three weeks to a month before school starts, but 23 percent are early birds, hitting it more than two months before the first school bell rings.

Back-to-School searches on the Yahoo Bing Network begin to peak in mid-July, but click-through rates for the top search terms peak in different weeks from the beginning of June through the end of September. On mobile, click-through rates generally peak in mid-June.[14] Take advantage of high click-through rate weeks for your category this Back-to-School season.

 bing ads back to school

Interested in learning more? We've got even more data on search and shopping behavior in our Back-to-School presentation:

For more seasonal and vertical insights check out the Bing Ads Industry Insights Portal.


[1] Source: National Retail Federation 2014 Back-to-School Survey.

[2] Monthly Consumer Survey, National Retail Federation, July 2014.

[3] Natl Retail Federation op. cit.

[4] Source: Deloitte. 2014 Back-to-School Survey Rising to the Head of the Class.

[5] Punchtab Survey. Back-To-School Shopping & Decision-Making Moms, July 2014.

[6] Punchtab op. cit.

[7] Experian, Back-to-School Trends Marketers Must Know, August 2014.

[8] School and College Trends, August 2014

[9] Punchtab Survey. Back-To-School Shopping & Decision-Making Moms, July 2014.

[10] Source: Deloitte. 2014 Back-to-School Survey Rising to the Head of the Class.

[11] Fluent, Level of influence of select sources on back-to-school purchasing decisions, August 2014.

[12] eMarketer, “Haul Videos Haul in Back-to-School Shoppers,” September 2014.

[13] Microsoft internal query data on Owned & Operated, PC, Tablets. Data range: 5/31/2014 to 10/3/2014

[14] Ibid.

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3 Sweet Valentine’s Day Tips to Woo Your Online Shoppers

Valentine’s Day is a sweet time for searches and sales, to the tune of $17.3 billion this past year. With half of purchases occurring within the week before Valentine’s Day and an average spend of $134, this last minute shopping holiday has both retailers and customers on their toes.1

Last-minute shopping: Valentine's Day searching and shopping tend to occur close to the big day. While 90 percent of gifts are purchased within three weeks of Valentine’s Day, the majority (51 percent) are bought in the days before.1 On the Yahoo Bing Network, Valentine-related searches begin to rise during the first week in February, as last-minute Cupids get busy. Some of them are still searching on February 14.2

 

More love to go around. Valentine’s Day is no longer reserved for lovers and spouses to demonstrate their affection. These days, family members, friends, classmates, colleagues and even pets can expect a token of love.1

The sweetest gifts. Did you know that over half of consumers plan to give candy, cards or flowers this Valentine’s Day?1 The traditional Cupids among us will spend $1 billion on candy, and 75 percent of that spend will be on chocolate.3 In fact, 59 percent of men and 83 percent of women say it's their preferred sweet treat – what a sweet time for sales!4

In addition, consumers will splurge on special experiences on Valentine's Day. Fifty-three percent will go out to dinner, 32 percent will prepare a special meal at home, and 16 percent will cuddle up with a movie rental.5 All these activities represent opportunities for marketers beyond the traditional gifts.

And the sweetest gift of all?  Sales!  Here are our top tips for wooing shoppers:

1. Fall in love with your mobile shoppers.

Mobile means on-the-go shopping for Valentine's Day, with 24 percent researching products and comparing prices on smartphones and another 32 percent doing the same on tablets. Fifteen to 20 percent will look up the locations of physical stores, as well as their hours and the best routes.1  And with over half of shoppers making a purchase the week of Valentine’s Day, many of these may be shoppers-on-the-go.

  • Select discount and deal-oriented keywords since smartphone customers search for deals
  • Use our Call Extensions feature to surface your business phone number inside your text ad
  • To drive foot traffic into your store, leverage Location Extensions, where your clickable phone number and directions will be displayed to help customers find your store – not just your website

 

2. Sweeten Up your Ad Copy

Anticipate what your customer will be in search of around Valentine’s Day and create dazzling ad copy to capture their attention.

  • Sweeten up your ad copy to target Valentine’s Day shoppers. For example, “Add some sparkle to Valentine’s Day with jewelry” or "Sweet talk your Valentine with a box of chocolates"
  • Customize your keywords and ad copy with Valentine’s Day seasonally relevant terms
  • Promote shipping options, especially "Guaranteed Delivery" if available. Be clear on shipping timeframe options and guaranteed delivery – you don’t want to disappoint customers if they don’t receive their order in time for Valentine’s Day
  • Include Valentine’s Day keywords to your keyword lists; consider using broad match to send more searchers your way who may be searching for related Valentine’s Day gift ideas

 

3. Fall in love with the Yahoo Bing Network this Valentine’s Day.

It would be heartbreaking to miss 29 percent of your potential customers this season of love, or access to the 32 million retail searchers not reached on Google.6 These cherished searchers are more likely to have spent lavishly on flowers in the previous six months or to have bought cards, gift foods and gift certificates.6

And finally, what advertiser isn’t infatuated with a more cost-effective solution than Google AdWords?7

For additional insights, check out our Valentine's Day seasonal insights deck on SlideShare below, and the Bing Ads Industry Insights Portal for more seasonal and vertical insights.

 Questions? Comments? Feel free to ping me on Twitter.
 

[1] Experian Marketing blog, November 2014

[2] Microsoft internal data

[3] Sweetworks, 2014

[4] Food Manufacturing, February 2014

[6] comScore qSearch (custom), US, June 2014

[7] AdGooroo, Google Adwords vs. Yahoo Bing Network – Average Cost per Click by Industry, Q1 2014

 

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Holiday Preparation Overview: New Year's Insights for Digital Marketers

With December winding to a close and January just around the corner, we're back again at that time of year when we reflect the previous 12 months and imagine the possibilities for the next. It's a fairly universal truth that a lot of people want to do something to assure that this year will be better than the last. In fact, 45% of Americans do. For digital consumers, 35% plan to spend $25 per month or more on their New Year’s resolutions. 

Having said that, it is especially important for marketers to capitalize early and continue to be visible throughout this period of time when people are thinking about their resolutions for the new year. Maintaining focus during this time is critical because research has shown that around 75% of resolution makers maintain their goals through the first week. After that, the numbers drop off to about 64% past the first month. Even so, this still presents a huge opportunity to PPC marketers to help people maybe get it right this time (whatever “It” is). 

It is estimated that $5.6 billion dollars will be spent on resolutions this year, and the top goals that people searched for in 2014 were:

Top New Years Resolutions


 

The majority of searches on the Yahoo/Bing Network were for:

1) Fitness

2) Smoking Cessation

3) Weight Loss

Our New Year’s Insights video below will show you the unique timing characteristics of each category and how you can capitalize on them:

o

For other resolutions on the list, it's important to remember to spread your budget across the time frame when people are still thinking about resolutions. If, for example, you offer a product or service that allows for people to “Learn something new and exciting," make sure that online searchers can find it throughout the New Year’s season... skydiving anyone?

That brings us to some of our tips for digital marketers, especially our first one:

Remember that New Year’s is a season.  It's not just a night or a week or month of effort on the part of potential customers. People are plugging in resolution-related queries starting before Christmas and continue well into February, either to get a head start or to get help to make sure they can stick to their resolutions.

Use words that work: Just as New Year’s resolutions create a huge opportunity, they also create huge competition. We've done some research using heat maps to help identify which ad titles and descriptions match up to create the most clickable ads.


 

A word on mobile… or four: DON’T forget about it! Any article offering advice on digital marketing and ignoring mobile today is doing a disservice; in this case, it is especially important. From Christmas to mid-January, mobile searches for “Fitness,” and “Weight loss” spike dramatically, presenting a fantastic opportunity for mobile PPC marketers. What's more, 50% of sporting goods and game purchases, and 35% of health and personal care items were influenced by mobile, either before or during a purchase in-store. People are researching and doing price checks all the way up until they have their money (or card) out.

Diversify:  Bing Ads has made it especially convenient and intuitive to import your Adwords campaigns into our platform.  Remember, there are 14 million health searchers not reached on Google, that's an opportunity that online marketers can't afford to miss.

After you watch our video, check out our New Year’s Slideshare presentation for an even more comprehensive breakdown of some of the hottest trends in digital marketing for the New Year season:

 

To access our entire library of industry and seasonal insights, visit the Bing Ads Industry Insights Portal.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Shelby Gagnon,

Vertical Insights Specialist

 

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Top Tips and Insights to Blitz the Football Championship Season with Bing Ads

The Super Bowl holds many first and second place records in American culture; the game typically generates the highest national television viewership each year.[1]  It is the second highest day of food consumption in the United States, behind only Thanksgiving, weighing in with 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat in snacks alone.[2] As far as commercials go, it’s the most expensive television ad spot of the year, with the average commercial (excluding production costs) commanding $4M for the XLVIII game in 2014.

Super Bowl searches start a couple of weeks before the game, typically around dates, times, and the rival teams. Popular keywords in 2014 included “Super Bowl date change,” “Denver Broncos” and “Seattle Seahawks.”3

 

The week before the game, food searches around popular game day foods started climbing. Common food-related keyword searches included “artichoke dip,” “buffalo wings recipe,” “super bowl food ideas” and “super bowl recipes.”  But on the actual game day, searches for pizza took the cake.[3]

During the game, the half-time show became all the buzz. In 2014, Bruno Mars’ half-time performance made history and entertainment sales; a record breaking 115.3 million viewers tuned in to see Bruno Mars perform.[4] After the Super Bowl half-time performance, Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox secured the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Top Albums chart and his debut album moved up to No. 3.[5] In support of this history-making viewership and chart climbing music, entertainment searches went through the roof during half-time. Top keywords included “Bruno Mars,” “Bruno Mars songs,” and “Bruno Mars tour 2014.”3

 

And the Super Bowl wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without the ads. In 2014, 78% of Super Bowl viewers looked forward to the commercials.[6] Additionally, 32% of Super Bowl viewers watched a commercial online before the game and 30% watched a commercial again after the game.[7] Searches for Super Bowl commercials peaked the next day, as people watched and re-watched the ads online. Top keywords around Super Bowl ads included “Budweiser puppy love,” “Cheerios super bowl commercial,” and “best Super Bowl ads.”3

For additional Super Bowl search insights, check out our Football Championship seasonal insights deck below. To access our entire library of industry and seasonal insights, visit the Bing Ads Industry Insights Portal.

 

Thanks for reading!

Shelby Gagnon

Vertical Insights Manager



[1] Super Bowl by the DMAs – A National Treasure Built on Local Passion, TVB, February 2014.

[2] Calorie Control Council and Snack Food Association; as quoted by Latin Times, Super Bowl 2014: 9 Shocking Statistics About Sunday Game Day Culture That Will Surprise You, 2014.

[3] Microsoft Internal Data Analysis: Yahoo! Bing Network, Owned & Operated, US, January 1 – February 28, 2014.

[4] Bruno Mars: Most Watched Super Bowl Halftime Show, WebProNews, February 2014.

[5] Bruno Mars Tops iTunes After Most-Watched Super Bowl Halftime Show, Mashable, February 2014.

[6] www.eMarketer.com, Venables Bell & Partners as cited in company blog, January 15, 2014.

[7] Lab42 Super Bowl XLVII Survey, February 2014.

 

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