2020 has presented many firsts and challenges for various PPCers. Specifically, on the eCommerce side, brands have experienced quite a bit of growth as people have leaned heavier on purchasing online. I recently wrote about “When Surprisingly Good Performance Leads To Tough Questions About The Value Of PPC”, covering how COVID has impacted our overall approach. It’s clear that the pandemic will have an impact on Q4; however, in this post, I want to focus on product and industry updates in the eCommerce space. Here are some updates you should be considering with the holidays on the horizon.

Free Listings on Google

In April, Google announced that they were reintroducing free Shopping listings. At first, these were only showing up in the Google Shopping tab. However, they more recently announced that free listings would begin showing in the standard SERP. This is clearly a move to not only help advertisers during tough times but also to be more competitive with the likes of Amazon as a marketplace. Because of that, I think free listings will have a place with Google for the long haul.

In any case, whether you plan on being aggressive or not during Q4, you should definitely ensure you’re taking advantage of the free clicks. While I think paid ads will win during peak times, you have nothing to lose by opting into free traffic.

Buy On Google Commission-Free

In continued efforts to simplify selling on Google, they announced that those who utilize Buy On Google will no longer have to pay commission fees. Google is also opening the platform to more third-party providers like PayPal and Shopify. If commission fees or other entry barriers were preventing you from testing this, it may be worth revisiting for the holidays.

Smart Shopping Updates

Although PPCers are split on Smart Shopping, it should continue to stay on our radar whether we’ve tested it or not. It’s a campaign that Google is clearly pushing and we’ll continue to see it evolve into a more attractive option. There is, without question, limited data for advertisers using this campaign type, but here are some recent updates worth noting:

First, Smart Shopping now offers an additional campaign objective of “driving new customer acquisition”. 

Additionally, Google has said that ads will be more visual moving forward or at least have more presentation options. This update will better align with where the user is searching and how far along they are in the research phase.

Big Retailers Closing for Thanksgiving Day

While not a platform-specific update, many retailers have announced they’ll be closed this Thanksgiving. Here are some of the big names who have already announced this (and I expect more to follow):

  • Academy Sports + Outdoors
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • J.C. Penney
  • Kohl’s
  • Office Depot
  • Sam’s Club
  • Target
  • Walmart

Recently, it has seemed like Black Friday starts sooner and sooner every year, cutting into a portion of Thanksgiving. With many of these big names closing instead, it’s safe to assume that many eager shoppers will shift more focus online. I would keep this in mind as you plan out budgets and promotions as there could be some potential for strong year-over-year growth.