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Monthly Archives: May 2012

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The 4 Cs Driving Mobile Search, Shopping & Buying

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By John Cosley

According to comScore, smartphone penetration has reached 72% of mobile market penetration.

Mobile devices have become an inseparable part of our everyday shopping lives — whether looking at reviews, checking a price or better understanding product features.

Like a snowball rolling down a hill, mobile commerce (m-commerce) will only gain momentum, both through device adoption and the services that retailers and technology makers put behind m-commerce.

At Bing Ads, we see the evolution to m-commerce balancing on four key elements:

  1. Control. Mobile gives users more control over what they buy, the price they pay and where they buy it.
  2. Convenience. Consumers use smartphones to conduct shopping-related activities in the comfort of their homes, at work and everywhere in between.
  3. Conversion. 70% of Bing mobile users convert within five hours of their mobile search. PC users take weeks to convert. (Based on Bing internal data. Conversions include calls, store visits and purchases across screens.)
  4. Commerce. eMarketer projects that mobile will make up 19% of retail e-commerce sales in 2014 — and it is expected to grow as we see more innovations and maturity around mobile payments.

Let’s dive into each of these a little deeper to understand how it’s driving the new mobile shopper.

1. Control

According to Nielsen’s Digital Consumer study, more than 4 in 5 smartphone and tablet owners are using a mobile device for shopping activities. Twenty-six percent of smartphone users plus thirty-five percent of tablet users do more shopping because of mobile devices.

Across the Yahoo-Bing Network, we’ve seen similar trends in mobile user engagement. For example, for clothing and shoes (a sub vertical within retail), impressions and clicks on smartphones are growing at a faster pace than on other devices.


Exhibit 1, Clothing and Shoes in Retail, Yahoo Bing Network mobile impressions, Apr – Sept 2014

Mobile clicks for clothing and shoes accounted for 31% of total clicks across all devices, growing from 20% since April. For additional insights on other retail sub verticals, visit our Mobile Retail Narrative on Slideshare.


Exhibit 2, Clothing and Shoes in Retail, Yahoo Bing Network clicks, Apr – Sept 2014

2. Convenience

Consumers use smartphones to conduct a variety of shopping activities such as researching before purchase, finding store locations and checking a price while in store.

When asked, “Where are you located when you use a smartphone to access shopping-elated information?,” 84% of consumers said At Home, 51% In Store, and 36% said Getting Somewhere.

Our research into the timing of device use for retail-minded consumers shows that convenience drives device use.

As consumers leave work during the week, their search behavior shifts to mobile devices peaking around 8:00 p.m.. Query volume remains high throughout the day on weekends, also peaking around 8:00 p.m.

As a result, we encourage advertisers to optimize mobile budget for after work-hours during the week to maximize reach, and spread budget more evenly on the weekends.


Exhibit 3, Yahoo and Bing Network, June 2013 – June 2014

3. Conversion

Continuing with the earlier example on Clothing and Shoes, Exhibit 3 shows that click-through rate (CTR) on smartphones is comparable if not higher than other devices, yet the cost-per-click (CPC) is 40-50% less compared to PCs and tablets.

Mobile CPC is on the rise because many advertisers are starting to understand the value of mobile and have opted in, but the cost-saving is still there.


Exhibit 4, Clothing and Shoes in Retail, Yahoo Bing Network CTR and CPC, Apr – Sept 2014

Advertisers say they use basket transactions to measure mobile PPC success, and we think it’s time for a huge shift in thinking about mobile conversion measurement. This is because mobile conversions don’t usually happen within the mobile phone – they happen in a store or restaurant or via phone call.

Because mobile search is oftentimes local search, people find what they’re looking for and go to their destination to spend money. Offline attribution is in its infancy, but advertisers can still track mobile ad effectiveness with discount codes tracked to specific ads, and with call tracking.

4. Commerce

Is your site mobile-optimized? A recent Forrester survey with 70 large to medium size retailers pointed out that mobile was the top priority for retailers in 2014.

Website redesign to optimize for small screens was among the top investments. It’s been proven that mobile-optimized retail sites drive higher conversion, and we see it every day in Bing Ads.

Based on a study of 53 retail sites and 180 million shopping sessions by Internet Retailer in October 2014, conversion rate for smartphone shoppers on mobile-optimized sites is 160% higher than the rate on non-optimized sites.

Average order value on smartphones on mobile optimized sites is 102% of the average order value for shoppers on PCs of those same retailers’ desktop sites. That number drops to 70% on non-mobile optimized sites.

Advertisers simply cannot ignore mobile any longer as it’s a significant driver in consumers’ search behavior.

I will close by sharing a quote from Prat Vemana, VP of e-commerce and product management of Staples, who said it well:

It’s all about providing the convenience of being able to shop and pick up products when they want, where they want. Mobile is at the nucleus of this change.

The post The 4 Cs Driving Mobile Search, Shopping & Buying appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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How Google Is Using Dynamic Testing To Build Out The Knowledge Graph

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By Eric Enge

Google’s Knowledge Graph is dynamically changing. We suspected as much as we saw changes during the Knowledge Box Showdown I published earlier this month.

For that reason, I personally redid 250 of the 3,086 queries we used in the study, to see what would happen. The results were interesting to say the least.

The TL;DR is that Google appears to be testing various possible direct answers to search queries. If the results are not to its liking, it is trying a different answer source, until user data tells them they have one that works.

In some cases, it decides it does not have a good enough answer and stops trying to show a knowledge box (aka answer box) altogether.


In this test, I took 250 queries that we used in our tests, 125 which previously returned no answer box, and 125 that did. In addition, of the 125 that did, I picked only the ones that returned step-by-step instructions. Each of these was retested, and I checked for:

  1. Did it return step-by-step instructions?
  2. Did it return a knowledge box other than step-by-step instructions?
  3. If yes, to 1 or 2, did it use the same website as a source as the first time we tested them?

For the ones that previously returned no answer box, if Google does now, I noted if the new result was in the form of step-by-step instructions, or some other type of knowledge box.

As in the original study, all of the searches were performed using voice queries on a phone. In this case, I used the Google App running on an iPhone 4.

The Findings

For the 125 queries I tested that originally returned answer boxes, here is how it shook out:

Changes in Step by Step Results

I found that 75% of the tested items still show a step-by-step instruction result. The rest of these changed. In addition, the sites used to respond to the queries also changed. Here is how that broke out:

  1. Of the 94 cases that still returned step-by-step results, 15 of them (16%) now show results from a different site.
  2. Of the 16 that now show knowledge panels, 10 of them (62.5%) show results from a different site.

For the 125 queries I tested that originally showed no answer box, here is what we saw:

Changes in Queries that Returned no Answer Boxes

Across the 250 total tested items, we can tabulate the following changes:

  1. 20 fewer step-by-step instructions.
  2. 3 total more answer boxes (23 new non step-by-step answer boxes).

For purposes of this tabulation, the image results were treated as “no knowledge box” even though they did attempt to answer the question with those responses.


My speculation is that Google is dynamically testing various answer sources and specific ways of answering questions, and seeing what works based on user data. If it likes the results, it sticks with it; if it doesn’t, it is trying the next possible answer. When it has no satisfactory answer, it falls back to the web search results.

Its algorithms can’t determine the perfect answer, so it calculates what it considers best possible matches, and then tests it in the real world laboratory of search, making you and me the QA team for how good the results are.

If the best possible match does not work, it may try the next best possible match, and so forth. It can also run tests in parallel by showing different results from different data centers to speed this process.

While this is aggressive on Google’s part, but the company’s belief in the concept of answer boxes of all kinds is evidently quite strong, and this shows Google is willing to do what it takes to be able to show good answers.

The post How Google Is Using Dynamic Testing To Build Out The Knowledge Graph appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Microsoft To Replace Clip Art With Bing Images In Office Software by @mattsouthern

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By Matt Southern

Clip art, those delightful images reminiscent of the 90s, are set to become a thing of the past as Microsoft announced today they’re doing away with them in favor of Bing Images. If you’re thinking to yourself, “wait, Clip Art was still a thing?”, yes it was though it had been largely phased out with the release of Office 2013. However, anyone still wanting to use those image was able to do so through using an Clip Art option. That Clip Art option is now being replaced by Bing Images, as Microsoft’s Doug Thomas explains that “usage of Office’s […]

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WordPress Releases Critical Security Update, Immediate Update Recommended by @mattsouthern

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By Matt Southern

WordPress announced today that it has released a critical security update for all previous version, and encourages everyone to update their sites immediately. If your site supports automatic background updates, expected to be updated to WordPress 4.0.1 within the next few hours, if you haven’t been updated already. Those of you who are running WordPress 3.9.2, 3.8.4, or 3.7.4, will be updated to 3.9.3, 3.8.5, or 3.7.5 in order to keep your site secure. Version 3.9.2, and earlier versions of WordPress, were found to be affected by a critical cross-site scripting vulnerability, which leaves sites open to anonymous attackers. This […]

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Bing Ads To Retire Explicit Mobile Targeting In March 2015

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By Ginny Marvin

To complete its path to compatibility with Google AdWords, Bing Ad has announced that explicit OS targeting will be retired in March of next year.

No longer will you have the option to target ads to a specific mobile operating systems as you are now.

OS targeting available in Bing Ads today.

Instead, what advertisers will see beginning in March 2015 is this:

Big Ads device targeting

Device targeting in Bing Ads starting March 2015.

This change rounds out Bing Ads’ adoption of Google’s enhanced campaigns. After showing some initial bravado when Google announced it was taking away tablet targeting from advertisers, Bing Ads backed down from that stance and decided it was better to join ‘em.

The effort to bring parity between the two platforms has been underway throughout this past year, with the thinking being that advertisers will be willing to spend more time in Bing Ads if they don’t have to learn how to navigate and manage campaigns in a completely different environment from the one they spend most of their time in, namely AdWords. In September, the ability to bid separately on tablet traffic was removed and, as on AdWords, desktop and tablet traffic is now combined. However, Bing Ads did give advertisers a concession here by providing a bid modifier on tablets, something that Google does not provide in AdWords.

At the same time, Bing Ads announced that App Extensions will roll out just as the explicit OS targeting goes away.

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