The CafePress Experience With Ads

When CafePress first started printing shirts in 1999, online retail was still a nascent industry and Google had yet to sell its first ad. Soon CafePress started selling products through search ads on Google, and their business took off. Today, CafePress hosts millions of shops online where customers can choose from more than 325 million products on nearly any topic, from wall art to phone cases.

Just as CafePress has broadened its offerings over time, we’ve also worked to improve and expand our search advertising products. What started as three lines of simple text has evolved into ads that are multimedia-rich, location-aware and socially-amplified.

Today CafePress uses Sitelinks to direct people to specific pages of their website, helping customers find what they’re looking for faster. On average, ads with three rows of links, or three-line Sitelinks, are more than 50 percent likely to get clicked on than ads without Sitelinks. More than 200,000 advertisers have joined CafePress in using Sitelinks in at least one campaign.

Monday at Advertising Week in New York City, I’ll be talking about how advertisers have been quick to adopt these new formats since we first began experimenting nearly two years ago. Businesses from the smallest retailer in Idaho to the largest Fortune 500 company in New York have seen how these innovations in search advertising can help grow successful businesses. In fact, roughly one-third of searches with ads show an enhanced ad format.

Here are a few ways these new ad formats are helping people find valuable information faster:

Visual. Not only can you find theater times for a new movie, you can watch the trailer directly in the ad. Media ads put the sight, sound and motion of video into search ads. With Product Ads, people can see an image, price and merchant name, providing a more visual shopping experience. Because this format is often so useful, people are twice as likely to click on a Product Ad as they are to click on a standard text ad in the same location, and today, hundreds of millions of products are available through Product Ads.

Local. More than 20 percent of desktop searches on Google are related to location. On mobile, this climbs to 40 percent. Location-aware search ads can help you find what you’re looking for more easily by putting thousands of local businesses on the map—literally. More than 270,000 of our advertisers use Location Extensions to attach a business address on at least one ad campaign, connecting more than 1.4 million locations in the U.S. via ads. And, with our mobile ad formats, not only can you call a restaurant directly from the ad, you can also find out how far away the restaurant is located and view a map with directions.

Social. With the +1 button people are able to find and recommend businesses with their friends. Since introducing the +1 button earlier this year, we now have more than 5 billion impressions on publisher sites a day. If you’re a business owner, the +1 button enables your customers to share your products and special offers easily with their network of friends, amplifying your existing marketing campaigns.

We’re continuing to experiment with search ads to help businesses like CafePress grow by connecting with the right customers.

We’re developing ads that provide richer information to you because we believe that search ads should be both beautiful and informative, and as useful to you as an answer.

Mapping the football searches

Fall means lots of things in the United States: leaves changing colors, apple picking, back to school and…football. This weekend, the National Football League (NFL) starts its season with a bang, with 15 games on Sunday and Monday. College and high school football are already underway and fans all across the country are tuning in, getting excited and rooting for their teams—in person, on television and online. As a Notre Dame alum (class of ‘87), the ups (and the recent downs) of Fighting Irish football are always a big part of my fall weekends. Regardless of your alma mater or hometown team, one thing is certain: American football is a big deal across the United States. Ahead of most of this week’s kickoffs, we thought it would be fun to take a peek at some of the football search trends from around the country.

There’s some debate as to what is more popular: professional (NFL) football or college football. Search queries make it clear that in spite of the [nfl lockout], the pro game and [nfl] is consistently more popular for U.S. searchers than all of [college football].

That doesn’t mean that the college game isn’t extraordinarily popular. Right now, we’re seeing the highest level of search queries for [college football] since 2004. In certain regions, college football appears to be king over even the NFL. The states with the most searches for [college football] are mostly in the southern part of the country, with the notable exception of the rabid fans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. That’s no wonder—on Saturdays, when the Huskers are playing at home, their Memorial Stadium becomes the third largest “city” in the state.

We can also conduct a little popularity contest among players in college football. The Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the top college player, is usually correlated to spikes in search query volume. This year, the early favorites for the Heisman are beginning to take shape. Stanford’s quarterback [andrew luck], who opted to play his senior year in college instead of heading to the pros, is out front in terms of searches, but fans should also watch out for Robert Griffin III from the Baylor Bears program. [rg3], as he’s known, had the game of his career in week one and might be the national breakout star of the first few weeks of the season.

Over on the NFL side, it appears that winning the big game has little relation to how often people search for their favorite player. In the past month, the most searched for player in the NFL is [peyton manning] of the Indianapolis Colts, who last won the Super Bowl in 2007. He’s currently sidelined with a neck injury, so his status is likely driving much of the current search queries. Meanwhile, the quarterbacks from the past two Super Bowl winners, [drew brees] from the New Orleans Saints and [aaron rodgers] of the Green Bay Packers, come in behind a player who isn’t even his team’s starter: Denver Broncos QB and former Florida Gators star [tim tebow].

The old saying goes, “on any given Sunday,” meaning that every team has a chance to win each time they hit the field. The adage manifests itself in typically balanced standings that last throughout the season and into the playoffs. But when it comes to search, we’re not quite so fair and balanced. In fact, there’s a clear favorite, and by this measure they really are “America’s Team”: the [dallas cowboys]. In the U.S., the Cowboys lead all other teams in search query volume, followed by the [chicago bears] and the [green bay packers].

No examination of football search trends would be complete without mentioning Fantasy Football. Millions of fans participate in their own drafts and watch their league’s waiver wires as they serve as coach and general manager for their own fantasy team. The enthusiasm is so fevered that, in the U.S. right now, more people are interested in [fantasy football] than President [obama].

Finally, for spectators, football isn’t just about teams and players. It’s also about the game day food. [Tailgating] searches peak every fall as folks turn to the web to discover new recipes and ideas for pre-game parking lot cookouts. The Super Bowl in February really drives gameday recipe searches, but tailgating staples like [guacamole], [wings] and [brats] all rank high in terms of search quantity every fall, with the king of all tailgating recipe-related searches being [dip].

Whether you’re an NFL fan, an NCAA nut or just someone who likes hot wings, here’s to a great season.

Google Places: Tips on Avoiding Bad Reviews

 

There are three simple elements to a review management plan:

  • Great customer service
  • Ask for reviews
  • Avoid Negative reviews

It used to be said that an unhappy customer would tell 10 people. Today an unhappy customer can influence hundreds if not thousands of people by leaving a bad review. It is common wisdom that, in the age of the internet, providing excellent customer service is the secret to review success.

While that is certainly true it is also a bit of cliche. What business doesn’t strive to provide excellent customer service? Sooner or later something will happen, despite your every intention. Things will go wrong and you will have an unhappy customer. As Matt McGee says, we don’t live in a five star world. Your client’s business is no exception.

There are two kinds of businesses in todays world. Those that have received a negative review and those that will. Bad reviews sting. Much has been written about ways to garner reviews from your clients. Less has been written about dodging the stinkers. It is equally important in generating a review profile that reflects the mostly positive range of your customer’s experiences to AVOID BAD REVIEWS.

Sooner or later you will have an unhappy customer and you want plans in place to deal with that eventuality. If you assume that your systems will fail, you can be ready to deal with the customer all too ready to trash you in a way that doesn’t drive them to the desperate act of expressing their frustration in the public commons.

Here are some tips on how to avoid bad reviews:

1- Follow up with customers immediately after the sale with a call and/or an email to be sure that all went as planned. Identify problems early on in the cycle so that you can correct them before they become complaints.

2- Make complaining easy. Build a culture that is truly ready to receive the complaint at every level of your business from the cashier to the president. Train your staff and train them well to not be defensive and to solve most problems immediately.

3- Make a complaint form very obvious on your site, perhaps on every page. This not only allows unhappy customers to complain, it makes it clear to potential customers that you are ready to listen. If you title the page “Your company name |Complaints” it will have the added benefit of appearing high on the main search results. This not only telegraphs to your customer your willingness to deal with complaints, it pushes other perhaps less flattering chatter down the page.

4- When you do receive a complaint, follow up quickly and try to resolve it. Nothing rankles like a customer stewing about your bad service and waiting for a return phone call.

5-Respond to negative reviews online. Once the issue is resolved circle back with the customer about the review. A recent survey has shown that an appropriate response to a negative review can get the negative review removed in a third of the cases. A roughly an equal number of consumers posted a positive review after receiving a response to their bad review. Having a plan and responding appropriately to a negative review is critical to this process.

6-Never fake reviews or enter them on behalf of your clients. It is imperative that you not provide reviewers with any trace that you are abusing your review corpus. Getting slammed by a customer review that questions your ethics calls into question your trustworthiness and integrity. It is the most difficult type of negative review to deal with even if it is not true. Responding online to the question do you beat your wife with a stick or a club creates a no-win situation.

7- Communicate with your local competitors. Competitor spam reviews are becoming more common than ever. If you are on speaking terms with them you are much less likely to fall victim to a puerile spam review attack.The reality is that other similar local businesses are not the long term determinant of your success nor really your major competition. In Barbara Oliver’s recent case, she immediately contacted the two other jewelers affected by competitor spam and established communication and rapport to make it less likely in the future.