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As the Easter holidays approach, retailers are gearing up to leverage the unique consumer mindsets and behaviours that accompany this season. Understanding these insights is crucial for crafting effective marketing strategies that resonate with consumers. Let's delve into three key consumer mindsets that drive Easter spending and the strategies retailers can adopt to make the most of this season.

Buying to Refresh: With Easter marking the onset of Spring, consumers are eager to refresh various aspects of their lives. From revamping their homes with vibrant decorations to updating their wardrobes with fresh fashion trends,

Choosing Easter Gifts: Easter gifts should give a sense of a special treat, whether it's decadent chocolate eggs or unique presents. Consumers are willing to splurge on items that make this occasion truly special.

Celebrating Together: As the holiday unfolds, families and friends come together to celebrate. Whether it's a cosy meal indoors or a barbecue outdoors, retailers can align their marketing efforts with this sense of togetherness by offering products and promotions that facilitate these gatherings.

In the UK, Easter festivities often revolve around gatherings, with a significant portion of Brits opting to celebrate either at home or by dining out. Moreover, there's a notable correlation between rising temperatures and increased search trends across outdoor categories. This indicates that consumers are not only anticipating the change in weather but also adjusting their purchasing behaviours accordingly.

As retailers gear up for the Easter period, there are three essential tasks to focus on:

Show Your Range: Start preparing early to capture the demand for Easter-themed products. Utilise various channels, including video content, to inspire and inform consumers about your offers.

Match Consumer Ambition: Tailor your marketing to cater to different segments, whether it's those seeking something unique or those looking to save money. This will capture a broader audience and drive brand consideration.

Nudge to You: Adapt marketing creatives to appeal to a broader audience, focusing on outdoor living and celebrating the arrival of Spring. By positioning your brand as a partner in their celebrations, you can strengthen brand awareness and build deeper connections with your audience.

Easter offers retailers a golden chance to build genuine connections with consumers. By grasping and utilising consumer mindsets and behaviours, you can tailor your marketing strategies adeptly to boost sales and increase engagement during this season.

If you’re concerned about any of these areas or want support in driving success through our CSS and FeedManager tools, don't hesitate to reach out to us at info@productcaster.com and let our expert team take a look.

Source: Google – Easter, Micropeak 2024

Retail Overview
It remains hard yards in retail with volumes slowing -3.2% in December, significantly more than expected according to CBI and the ONS. It’s been a slow start to 2024 with Watches of Switzerland, JD Sports and Burberry all issuing profit warnings as UK inflation dampens demands as well as international price wars and a less engaged Chinese market.

Unfortunately, more of the same is forecast for non-food retailers through Q1, although GFK are reporting improved consumer confidence in the UK, with the index edging up three points to -19 in January, reaching a two year high. No doubt this improvement will take a few months to work through the system and translate to sales but maybe a chink of light on the horizon in an otherwise bleak retail environment.

Retailers and brands should undoubtedly protect their margins, minimise holding too much stock, closely measure any investment and find as many efficiencies as possible BUT not pull back on marketing. In the short-term performance marketing can help the sell through of stock, improve cash liquidity and acquire new customers but long term it drives market share and delivers the best ROI of any business function. Marketing investments made now will mature later when the retail markets is in growth again, delivering more sales and better margins.

Retailers should have a diversified multi-channel plan but specifically in Comparison Shopping - without the right technology stack, some brands are paying 20% extra on Google Shopping Cost Per Click. Productcaster can make marketing budgets work even harder by providing 20% reductions in CPC's. As Google Premium CSS Partner, we’re always up to speed with the latest developments, advice and guidance, which we pass straight to our clients.

Jillian Anderson, Product Development Director at Productcaster reviews Google’s latest changes and the impact this is set to have on marketing strategies in Q1 

Following significant pressure from the EU to be more transparent and open up competition to other media providers, Google has started to roll out significant changes to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), changing the way customers search for their favourite products and brands. 

According to Google, these experience ‘tweaks’ have been robustly tested across key European markets, including UK, DE, FR, and CZ, and early experimental results demonstrate improvements to consumer engagement and uptake. So what does it mean for consumers and brand advertisers in the coming months?  

Firstly, this is a clear statement of intent from Google to increase the competition and transparency of Comparison Shopping, increasing the value and importance of partner Comparison Shopping Services. Quite rightly, Google should not be a poacher and gamekeeper being responsible for both advertising revenues and price comparison services.  As deemed by the EU, this is a recipe for ‘self-preference’ with the possibility of Google favouring the products and prices that deliver the most advertising revenues.  

Secondly, the new changes highlight the importance and need for brands and agencies to have an informed and considered performance marketing strategy to maximise all channel and advertising platforms. Brands should have a diversified multi-channel plan but specifically in Comparison Shopping - without the right technology stack, some brands are paying 20% extra on Google Shopping Cost Per Click costs, while at the same time seeing 20% fewer conversions and lower ROI.   

It is also commonplace for brands to unwittingly enable technology and partners that actually increase the journey length and reduce their own ability to manage customers and products.  The risk of great inefficiency in this space is large and getting larger.  Placing the right products, in the right channel, at the right advertising ‘Cost Per Click’ price, with the right information for consumers to make purchase decisions is key; thus a Comparison Shopping Premium Partner that provides expertise to better clients campaigns as well as the CPC saving, complemented by a feed management solution, can drive efficiency in the channel by up to 50%. 

Lastly, we’re witnessing the end game for one of the original and oldest digital advertising channels within retail, the text ad. With the meteoric rise of Product Listing Ads (Shopping) and the associated product images, buying information and enhanced creative, we have seen proportional decreases to the value and ad share of text ads. There is better performing, more cost effective media at play and this has resulted in text ads being pushed further and further down the page. This channel within Google is literally already on the floor, down and out within retail.  Hopefully, this won’t happen to the Organic page listings so that there is still real estate on Google that can be won through experience and content, rather than just the biggest media budgets. 

There is definitely more change and disruption to come in this space with friction between the EU, Google and competing media partners. But there are also gains to be had and market share to be won for those agencies and brands who have a clearer view of how to drive retail performance on Google. Inevitably, more substantial changes and Google concessions are to follow with the EU ‘Digital markets Act’ commission set to make further competitive rulings on the Shopping channel in Spring 2024. 

When investigating the right CSS solution for your business, there are going to be specific criteria that you need to tick off before making a decision. One of which is going to be the cost – cost of service, cost of switching, cost of support. Recent research from Google shows that retail customers look for greater value for money, not just the cheapest choice and our experience is that this attitude is also translating into B2B spending decision.   

There are cheap options for a CSS partner that will suit some types of businesses, and there are options which on face value cost more but offer immense value. At Productcaster, we know that we fall into the second category. Which is why we often hear the question...  

"But if I can get the same service cheaper elsewhere, why would I choose Productcaster?”  

And it is a valid question. Why should you choose a Premium CSS partner over a more budget option, particularly in this era of price sensitivity, cost of living pressures and the subsequent budget squeezing.  

For us, it’s very clear. Premium partners like Productcaster CSS offer a level of service that you’re just not going to get from companies at the bottom end of the cost scale.  

We have had customers leave us, only to return with stories such as  

“We waited 4 days for a return email on a service critical issue.” 

“We emailed and were told to contact Google as it wasn’t covered in our service plan.” 

“It felt like <previous provider> just didn’t care about our business.” 

And that’s the real difference. At Productcaster, our Client Success Team is dedicated to supporting clients with their issues, understanding their business goals and being a true partner for success. We act as a true partner for our clients. We delve into their business objectives and make sure that we identify the right campaign bidding strategy to meet these goals. Our team respond to client queries quickly and efficiently so that they don’t have to waste time waiting for a response to business impacting issues. And we use every tool at our disposal to optimise client campaigns, so they don’t have to.  

Case in point, Client G who said 

“After trialling other cheaper partners, we ultimately chose to go with Productcaster. Not only did our campaigns perform better with Productcaster CSS, but the support and advice has been invaluable. Coupled with the simple migration and transparency of our monthly cost, the decision was an easy one to make.” 

Premium* Productcaster Package Benefits 

To book your demo and free trial, drop us an email today.  

*Other CSS packages are available 

According to the Office for National Statistics, British consumers cut back on spending during September, sparking fears that the retail industry has fallen into recession just weeks before the key peak shopping season.  

Rising household energy bills and increases in food prices mean that consumers are cutting back on non-essential spending. And industry experts predict that we will be buying fewer and cheaper presents as a result. But what does this really mean for retailers?  

How can brands recession-proof their shopping campaigns?  

Even bigger retailers, with their high brand recognition and great reputations, are not going to be immune to the changes in consumer spending behaviours. It’s clear that the only way to weather the storm is to cut back on unnecessary spends and make every single £££ of the marketing budget work as hard as possible.  

One of the best ways of doing this is to take control of your Google Shopping campaigns and take advantage of as many efficiencies as possible. 

1. Use a comparison shopping service 

If you’re still using Google’s own comparison shopping service (CSS), now is the time to switch. Moving to another CSS, such as Productcaster, can save you up to 20% on your CPCs, with no detriment to your PLAs listings. And the switch is so easy to make, with no downtime in your advertising campaigns.  

You can either use that 20% saving in another area of your marketing or reinvest it to get bigger and better results. It’s entirely up to you. 

2. Curate your product feed 

Cut down on your disapprovals by making sure that your product feed is managed and up-to-date at all times and in the right format for every single output – from Facebook to Google. Productcaster’s FeedManager solution is one of the easiest ways to bring every product listing up to industry standards. You can also use it for annotating products to show special offers and price drops – making sure that price-conscious consumers are aware that you’re offering great value.  

3. Use Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) 

Although UK retail sales declined by 0.9%, it was non-store retailing took the brunt of the loss falling 2.2% in September – people want to feel the physical product in their hands before they part with their money. Omnichannel campaigns are becoming more important, being able to firmly link the online search to the offline purchase.   

By updating your product feed effectively, you can take advantage of geographically linked LIAs. They allow your customers to check stock levels, then reserve the item in their local store or even buy through click & collect. Connecting with your customers on their channels along their own path to purchase is so important in a competitive market.  

What’s the advantage of Productcaster?  

Productcaster is the home of big brands - did you know that we currently work with 32 of the UK Top 500 retail brands? Major high street names from H Samuel to L’Occitane, Ikea to Ann Summers, all display via our Productcaster CSS.  

Why do these brands choose Productcaster? We offer more than just a quick swap and a comparison site. Our client success team is built around offering premium support for our brand clients – whether that’s liaising with Google over any issues on your behalf, or pulling together campaign reporting and recommendations. We’re quality over quantity, with fewer clients than some of our competitors, but accounts that receive days of support and care to achieve the very best results.  

As a Google Premier CSS Partner, we’re always up to speed with the latest developments, advice and guidance, which we pass straight to our clients. In fact, we’ve taken part in more Google beta testing of new tech than any other agency. We’re really proud of this relationship and the benefits that it can bring.  

The next few months are going to be make or break for many retailers. If you feel that your brand needs a hand with maximising its budget to drive sales and profit, get in touch and see if Productcaster can help you today.  

With peak fast approaching, retailers are gearing up for the busiest and most important period of the year.  Following the years of Covid, and then the challenging economic times of the last year, there is cause to be more positive about this peak season.  Consumer confidence has started to improve following an all-time low, energy prices are falling, and inflation has hopefully hit its peak.

When it comes to shopping, there is another reason to be positive this year; with Black Friday (BF) falling on 24th November and Christmas Day on a Monday, rather than the usual 4 weekends between BF and Christmas, this year there are 5! This presents a unique opportunity, not just for consumers but retailers too.

So, to get you in the festive spirit, here are 5 considerations Productcaster gives to you…

5 weekends

Research has shown that shoppers are more thoughtful about where and when to spend their money – the inspiration and consideration phases of purchases are longer than ever, with more than 50% of consumers browsing either for inspiration or purely for fun.  Take advantage of the additional weekend as this provides a valuable extension for consumers when considering their purchases.  Make sure you are part of this consideration phase – optimise your assets and feed to improve reach, focusing on the right messaging for your customers: show them what they need to see to choose your brand.   With the cost-of-living crisis still ongoing, consumers want to know they are getting good value from a trustworthy brand.

4 all your categories

With the extra days between BF and Christmas this year, make sure you are planning your budgets accordingly: for multiple category retailers, understanding the seasonality of your products is key.  Ensuring budget allocation across categories is in line with demand is an effective approach for boosting sales.

Understanding trends from previous years is a great starting point for allocating budgets and anticipating performance throughout the peak period.  Beware of one-off events that may have impacted previous performance (e.g. remember the World Cup last year?); so be mindful of expectations and be ready to reforecast as we get closer to Christmas.  A dynamic do, learn, reforecast approach is key to ensure effective budget management throughout the period, and will ensure you are well-prepared to meet customer demand.

3 types of LIA

Whilst the contribution of online sales continues to grow, UK consumers are still researching offline with over 60% likely to visit stores to see and touch products before purchase (Ipsos Essentials COVID-19 tracker, UK).  As we get closer to Christmas, and final delivery dates are draw near, Local Inventory Ads become a linchpin in a retailer’s strategy.  These ads play a pivotal role in connecting digital intent with physical action.  Using LIAs ensures retailers are present when needed the most. Users want a seamless journey, with similar experiences regardless of whether they are shopping online or in store.

There are three levels of LIA: Lite, Basic, and Full.  Depending on your technical capabilities and implementation, you’ll need to choose the right option (more information here).  Implementation of LIAs may seem daunting, and with peak fast approaching, LIA Lite is a simple and quick way to improve CTR: using the ‘Pick up later’ annotation has been shown to improve CTR on your ads by 15% compared to standard PLAs.

For bricks-and-mortar stores, having a well-executed omnichannel approach with LIAs at the forefront can make all the difference in securing those last-minute purchases.

2 phases of purchase

Purchase journeys are not just getting longer, consumers are buying earlier too.  More than 30% of gift purchases were made during October last year.  By reviewing your inventory, you need to distinguish between the advanced, considered purchases and the last-minute gifts.  Tailor your messaging to be at the forefront of shopper’s minds during each key phase over the next 3 months – being visible and relevant to the right shopper at the right time is vital in order to maximise sales during the peak season.  Look at your assets, targets, and budgets, aligning key messages across channels and use real-time data to adjust your strategy and optimise sales.

And 1 very successful peak…

This is the Golden Quarter – the final weeks of the year are laden with opportunities for retailers; more so than ever this year after the turbulent economic times over the last 12 months.  A nuanced understanding of the social-economic factors most influencing your customers, using data to make strategic decisions and monitor performance across your entire product inventory, creating a seamless omnichannel experience and getting the right message out at the right time will form the pillars of success this peak season.

By embracing these considerations, you can make the most of the extended opportunity that the 5 weekends present and deliver a seamless, impactful experience to your customers and, importantly, great returns for your business.

If you have any questions about the content of this blog, or would like to find out more about working with Productcaster, please drop us an email to info@productcaster.com.

Sources

Google / Trinity McQueen, February 2023 UK Q23. Thinking about when you're gathering inspiration about which [category] products to buy, what proportion of your time do you spend doing the following?​ Unweighted, n = Total 12,096, UK 4050, FR 4018, DE 4036

Google/Ipsos, Holiday Shopping Study, Oct 2022 – Jan 2023, Online survey, Base: Holiday Shoppers - Varies by week (n=624-1499)​

We're offering you the chance to "win peak with Google" and get your hands on practical advice on optimising your Google Shopping campaigns to drive profit and sales during this Golden Quarter. Learn from over 20 years of retail performance marketing experience, coupled with industry insight from the world's most recognised ecommerce company!

Download this guide for

This download is based on our webinar (20 September 2023), hosted by Productcaster CEO Martin Corcoran and Account Director Gina Farrow, alongside Brian Lavery, Google’s Head of UK & Ireland Shopping ads via CSS.  

During this hour-long session, our panel discussed all things Google Shopping, including strong asset management, making the most of maturing PMax, and how to utilise Google’s real estate like Local Inventory Ads.  

If you’d like the full details, you can re-watch the content here.  And if you want to get in touch to claim your free one-month trial of Productcaster, drop us an email today

Productcaster CSS is one of Europe's largest CSS solutions. By switching to Productcaster, you can save up to 20% on your CPCs immediately (if you are currently serving ads via Google), as well as the opportunity to access premium support via our experienced customer support team.

If you want to drive sales, lower your costs, and maximise your profits like this current CSS client, talk to us about switching to Productcaster CSS today.

 

Productcaster helped a leading UK eCommerce brand achieve remarkable cost savings while increasing their online traffic by 45%. 
 

The Challenge 

Our client, a prominent retailer in the UK, was on a mission to enhance their omnichannel strategy. Their primary objectives were to drive sales and reduce operational costs.

The client partnered with us to understand if they could make these cost savings by using Productcaster Comparison Shopping Service. They were also intrigued to see if this could improve their Comparison Shopping Ads performance. 

The Approach 

The approach we took was simple, yet effective. We wanted to fairly test the financial impact of switching to Productcaster’s CSS, and therefore captured data on the following metrics:  

This data was then compared to the previous four weeks to observe the key differences and provide sound results. In addition, to ensure we removed the effect of seasonality, we also compared this eight-week data period with the same period from the previous year. 

The Results 

The outcomes of our collaboration with Productcaster exceeded all expectations, delivering substantial benefits to our client: 

35% Reduction in CPCs: Our client achieved their primary goal of reducing costs significantly, with CPCs slashed by an impressive 35%. 

44% Increase in Clicks: The transition to Productcaster led to a remarkable 44% surge in clicks, highlighting the positive impact on traffic generation. 

31% Increase in CTR: The enhanced performance also resulted in a 31% increase in Click Through Rate, demonstrating improved engagement with potential customers.

To explore how Productcaster can help your business achieve similar tangible results, just drop us an email atinfo@productcaster.com.

 

 

 

 

We continue our series on the faces behind the Productcaster success with an introduction to Immy Hussain, Head of Affiliate Marketing at Summit and Productcaster.

Having worked at Summit for nearly 10 years, Immy is a familiar face across the business, with a wealth of experience in lots of different areas. We asked him a few questions about his role, his experience and goals for the future. Take a read below.

How long have you been at Summit/Productcaster and what did you do before working here?

I have now been at Summit for just under 10 years. Prior to joining Summit, I worked across a lot of different sectors in various roles. During this time, I dedicated myself to personal development and education, successfully completing an Open University degree in Business Studies. In addition, driven by a personal interest in expanding my skill set and fun, I also took courses in household electrics, plumbing, and car mechanics, which has been incredibly helpful over the years!

What's your role at Summit and Productcaster?

My current role at Summit is Head of Affiliates. Essentially, that means that I spearhead the delivery of top-tier affiliate marketing services for our clients, focusing on fostering growth and cultivating diverse partnerships at the core of our operational framework. To get this done to such a high standard, it is imperative for our team to remain abreast of the latest industry trends through training and development, and to also forge really strong relationships with affiliate partners and networks. I currently lead a team of four, with a supporting cast from around the business.

Additionally, I work closely with the tech team in Productcaster to refine and develop cutting-edge affiliate technology solutions, ensuring that we can offer our clients a powerful and user-friendly platform. As part of this customer-focused project, I keep a close eye on cost management efforts, striving to maintain pricing levels that are lower than those of our competitors to give our clients  a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.

What’s your work goal for the next 3 months?

In terms of my future goals, I have a clear plan for the next three years. But right now, I'm super excited because we're about to bring on board a big client in the coming months. Our team is currently deep in the planning process to make sure that we hit the ground running and give them the best service possible from Day 1. On top of that, we've just taken on two more brands, and we're working hard to bring their accounts up to our high standards as quickly as possible.

And with the peak season not too far away, we're working closely with all the marketing channels at Summit and Productcaster to make sure our clients come out on top with their performance in the second half of the year.

Tell us a fascinating fact about yourself

It’s hard to find something other people would find fascinating, but I do love cars, Comic book movies and can do the Rubix cube in under 2 mins.

Each year, Google host their Google Marketing Live event to share key upcoming opportunities and the latest product ideas for businesses using Ads. This year their main takeaway was clear – AI is the future of digital marketing.

AI is a huge part of digital marketing and is fast becoming one of the most exciting opportunities in our sector. Google Marketing Live alluded to this in their annual event, particularly explaining the benefits that AI can have when it comes to Google Ads - in the three key areas of customer connections, creativity, and confidence.

We’ve pulled together some of the latest insights and changes that you’ll need to know for your shopping campaigns.

What does this mean for me?

With the latest AI technology, new features will start rolling out in the coming months to inform and improve your campaigns. The two main points that will transform the way that we think about advertising are:

The Future of the Merchant Centre

Merchant Centre Next will be introduced to new Merchant Centre accounts from this month, eventually rolling out to all existing accounts by 2024. This evolution is an exciting opportunity for businesses. Not only will it be simpler to navigate but will also contain additional AI-driven features to improve user experience and performance.

This will roll out to existing accounts over the course of this year, with ETAs still to be determined, though more features and further improvements to the user experience are being promised.

How will I know if my account is transitioning to Merchant Centre Next?

When your account is ready to be upgraded to Merchant Centre Next, a banner will appear in the Merchant Centre and a notification will be sent via email to the admins of the account. The user can then choose to manually initiate the transition immediately or for it to happen automatically in several weeks. There will be no change to your existing set up or feeds, and ad campaigns will run as usual.

What can I expect in the new version of the Merchant Centre?

One of the main upgraded features of Merchant Centre Next is that it simplifies Google advertising for businesses. For example, you no longer have to manually input product data (when serving without a Product Feed). With Merchant Centre Next, there is an option to populate product data automatically using information from your website.

All insights reports will now be situated in the Performance tab so that merchants can review performance and competitor information in one location. In addition, businesses that have both online and local stores will be able to view all products in one place, making it easier to manage inventory.

AI-Driven Campaign Management

Since Performance Max became available last year, we have seen more integration of AI-based features appearing around Google ads and campaigns. New features will start to be introduced throughout the remainder of 2023 to improve campaign performance. Here are some of the upcoming features to look out for over the next few months.

Search Generative Experience (SGE)

SGE is transforming the way that we think about Search. Using the latest advancements in AI technology, it will become simpler for users to obtain the most relevant information and pose more complex queries. AI-powered snapshots will start to appear, offering more detail and further links for users to follow. SGE will be particularly helpful with shopping as the snapshot will contain up-to-date information about each product, which makes the purchasing journey easier for your customers.

Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is continuously improving, with AI features helping to predict which search queries will lead to purchases for your business. The latest advancements will bring language models into the bidding process to understand customer’s intent and will also drive better performance by optimising brand-new search queries. These will help your products to show in more searches and present new opportunities.

Generate new, high-quality assets in Performance Max

Google are launching a new AI-driven asset creation flow in Pmax. With context about your business, it will offer suggestions for text and image assets that could improve your campaigns. You can work collaboratively with asset creation flow to generate more ideas based on your goals and visions. Insights will report on the best performing assets and provide recommendations on where additional assets would be successful. These improvements will become available to desktop advertisers in English-speaking countries later in 2023.

Experiment and unlock insights to see what is driving performance

Experimenting with different configurations within one Pmax campaign can help to highlight areas that might improve performance. Betas for these experiments will become available later this year. More search term categories will be available in the Insights page, including custom date ranges and historical insights to identify customer intent. These can be found through the Google Ads API as well as the Google Ads interface. Change history and auction insights will be two of the insights available in the new performance indicating features. They will be made into one unified view to help improve performance. Recommendations on AI-generated assets or stock assets will be available to improve creative performance.

Drive online and in-store goals with omnichannel solutions

Performance Max was designed to help merchants advertise across a range of different channels. It uses AI to optimise ROI on channels such as Search, YouTube, Display, Discover and Google Maps. To help retailers who are looking to increase online sales, Google are testing customer lifecycle goals, starting with customer acquisition which leads to high lifetime value. Later in 2023, they will also be launching a re-engagement goal to improve customer retention.

And thus concludes our Google Marketing Live summary. With so many new features and insights available, it’s an exciting time for businesses – but it can also be quite confusing.

If you’d like to find out how you can make the most of the latest opportunities surrounding AI for your campaigns or if you’d like further information about how you can optimise your Omnichannel experience for the best performance, talk to the Productcaster team about our CSS and FeedManager solutions today.