June 6, 2014, 10:50 AM

IRCE Hot Topic: Playing the Google game

Few aspects of e-commerce are in such constant motion as search marketing.

Master one big change from Google Inc. and along comes another tweak or revision to the super-secret equations that govern its search results. Craft your product data feed for one paid search program and Google introduces another. And that's not even counting Microsoft Corp.'s Bing, which accounts for about 30% of consumers' searches, and is always striving to take some of Google's mojo.

That's why the Search Marketing Workshop on Friday, June 13, at IRCE 2014 is a must-attend event for e-retailers seeking to squeeze the most out of every dollar they spend on search marketing.

One can hardly understand the future without assessing the past, which is the appeal of the session "A Year Later: The Impact of Enhanced Campaigns." Google Enhanced Campaigns, which launched in February 2013, allow retailers to manage in a single AdWords campaign their ads across desktop computers and smartphones, while also factoring in such variables as time of day and location.

Adam Garcia, e-commerce marketing director for drugstore chain The Walgreen Co., and Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer at digital marketing technology company Kenshoo Ltd. and a source I often turn to when struggling to make sense of the latest changes in search, co-present the session. "The paid search competitive landscape is heating up," Goldman says. "Newer ad formats are getting full adoption from merchants of all sizes."

Another session that will help e-retailers understand how to react to changes in search marketing is "Rounding Up the Whole Story: Google Search Tweaks." The hour-long, in-depth presentation will focus on Google's ongoing updates to its Panda algorithm, a filter introduced in 2011 to give more credit to sites with quality content, as well as those updates' effects on natural search rankings.

"I hope attendees gain an appreciation for how quickly and dramatically the search engines change, not to mention how large of an impact those changes have on not only the web at large but also their business," says Jeff MacGurn, senior vice president of online marketing firm Covario Inc.; he will be joined on stage by Seth Dotterer, vice president, marketing and product, at search marketing firm Conductor Inc. and a frequent speaker at IR events.

Also on Friday, Dave Schwartz, general manager, product ads, for home décor e-retailer DataPop will offer tips about bidding on Google Product Listing Ads, yet another system Google recently updated with new features and processes. His advice could go a long way toward helping retailers deal with Google's emerging Shopping Campaigns, which will incorporate PLAs.

About one-third of traffic to the largest North American e-retailers by sales come from search engines, and the speakers taking part in the Search Marketing Workshop will help merchants make the most of it.

Thad Rueter manages Internet Retailer's annual survey on search marketing and reports on search strategy frequently for the publication. This will be the fifth IRCE he has covered.

Highlighted Sessions
A Year Later: The Impact of Enhanced Campaigns Friday, June 13, 8:45-9:15 a.m.
Rounding Up the Whole Story: Google Search Tweaks Friday, June 13, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Smarter Bidding Boosts an E-Retailer's Returns Friday, June 13, 1:00-1:45 p.m.


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