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Declining search terms data in Google Ads, the latest holiday shopping trends to target with your advertising, & why Tractor Supply is dominating their industry in 2020.

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'Significant' drop in Google-reported search terms seen across devices and ad formats [Report]

Reported losses of visibility have varied since Google’s change to limit the search queries it reports to advertisers went into effect in September. A report this week from performance agency Tinuiti, looking at dozens of large client accounts, found that there was “a significant drop” in the share of spend attributed to search queries across ad formats and device types.

The share of desktop text ads attributed to search queries, for example, fell 24 points from 98% to 74% from August to September. No device-ad format combination had more than 76% of spend attributed in search terms reports in September. Shopping campaigns had lower spend share attributed to search queries in than text ads across device types.

Google bounces back in Q3 with 9.8% ad growth as YouTube shines | Marketing Dive

Google's rebound in advertising revenue indicates that marketers ramped up their digital media spending after canceling or delaying campaigns in the prior quarter. That pullback led the company to report an 8% decline in total ad revenue, the first drop in the search giant's 26-year history, though YouTube managed to eke out a 5.8% gain. The video-sharing site is a key source of revenue growth for the company, given its popularity among young adults and teens who tend to consume more online videos than older generations do. While the pandemic has kept many people at home, Generation Z and millennials have ramped up their mobile video usage in recent months, a study from this summer indicated

🗣 Social

Facebook Continues to Add Users, Posts Strong Revenue Result in Q3

If the July Facebook ad boycott, in protest over its lack of action around hate speech, had any major financial impact for the company, it's not evident here.

⚖️ Legislation

DOJ files antitrust lawsuit challenging Visa’s $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid | TechCrunch

Companies like Venmo, Acorns and Betterment are just some of the big startups and fintech services that use Plaid to build their services.

“While Plaid’s existing technology does not compete directly with Visa today, Plaid is planning to leverage that technology, combined with its existing relationships with banks and consumers, to facilitate transactions between consumers and merchants in competition with Visa,” according to the DOJ.

And Visa was well aware of Plaid’s potential to disrupt its business. As early as March 2019, nearly nine months before the acquisition was announced, the vice president of corporate development and head of strategic opportunities expressed concerns about Plaid’s business.

“I don’t want to be IBM to their Microsoft,” the executive said, according to the lawsuit filed by DOJ. Visa’s chief executive also clearly acknowledged that Plaid was a threat.

Perhaps the DOJ has learned its lesson with tech giants. If not impossible, it is hard to get the genie back in the bottle after these competition stifling acquisitions.

As for how this relates to eComm, Plaid is viewed by many as a Stripe-esque player in online payments, allowing SAAS companies and online retailers a wide variety of pipes for accepting card payments.

🎄 Black Friday / Cyber Monday

US holiday shopping is moving online. How can brands prepare? | Vogue Business

While total holiday spend in the US is forecast to drop 7 per cent, online spending is on the rise overall. Black Friday (27 November) is projected to generate $10 billion in online sales this year, a 39 per cent year-on-year increase. Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year, reaching $12.7 billion, a 35 per cent jump year-on-year, according to Adobe’s 2020 holiday season report, which analysed one trillion visits to US retail sites and 100 million SKUs from 80 of the 100 largest US retailers.

35% YoY 😓

Google Shares 16 Stats About Holiday Shoppers

Throughout the guide Google references a number of search terms that are spiking in popularity.
  • Searches for “best affordable” have grown globally by over 60% year-over-year.
  • Searches for “fashion online shopping” are up 600% year-over-year.
  • Searches for “online clothing stores” have increased 100% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “available near me” have grown over 100% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “curbside pickup” have grown over 3,000% globally year-over-year.
  • Searches for “support local businesses” grew by over 20,000% since last year.

🛍 Marketplace

Vertical marketplaces are the next hot investment area

The consumer investors Modern Retail spoke with said that, given that the pandemic has accelerated e-commerce growth in the U.S., they’re interested in investing in more marketplaces. But they’re most interested in investing in specialized marketplaces that focus on one particular sector, like wellness products or grocery, rather than trying to fund a DTC alternative to Amazon. It’s difficult for any company to try to match Amazon on the number of brands and products available for sale, let alone a young startup. But still, as direct-to-consumer startups continue to grow — globally, DTC startups have raised between $8 billion and $10 billion since the start of 2019, according to Crunchbase — they’re clamoring for more places to sell their products online.

What’s also driving the interest in marketplaces is the fact that as consumers buy more products online, even direct-to-consumer startup founders themselves anticipate that customers aren’t going to want to buy their bedding, their cookware and their cleaning suppliers all from different websites.

Here's Why Tractor Supply is Marching Ahead of the Industry

The company’s omni-channel investments, including curbside pickup, same-day delivery, next-day delivery, a re-launched website and new mobile app contributed to digital sales growth in the third quarter to the tune of triple-digits. Notably, Buy Online Pickup in Store and Ship to Store facilities acted as key growth drivers, representing more than 80% of online orders. Also, its newly launched mobile app and the Neighbor's Club loyalty program bode well. Such efforts are boosting traffic, which in turn is leading to new customer acquisitions. Going ahead, management expects to offer one-day delivery to 9% of its customers in the near term.

🏬 Brick & Mortar

DTC Brands Haven’t Given Up on Stores, But Target Markets Are Changing

When DTC brands first opened brick and mortar storefronts in the late 2010s, they clustered around retail hubs like NYC and LA. But now?

“From a location perspective, we are seeing quite a shift to more neighborhood and outdoor destinations,” Amish Tolia, CEO and co-founder of store optimization platform Leap, told Retail Brew.
  • Tolia notes that Leap’s clients are targeting outdoor shopping centers in Arizona, Florida, and Texas.
  • “While these are not top five markets for brands today,” Tolia told me, “they are crucial next tier markets for [brands] to win in their respective categories.”

Hijacked Google My Business Listings On The Rise - Local University

One of the ways I believe that someone can effectively hijack a listing is to request access to it via the “claim this business” label that appears in the Knowledge Panel. We are seeing a huge increase in the number of complaints from users that are getting requests to manage their listing from people they don’t recognize. This thread on the GMB forum about the issue has over 80 responses. The issue has been brought up to Google several times.

If you get one of these emails, my recommendation is to simply delete it. Also, it’s a very good idea not to have tons of managers on your Google My Business listing. Having more users increases the likeliness that one of them could accidentally click it and give an unauthorized party control of your business listing.

Major Mall Landlords File For Bankruptcy Amid Broader Retail Wipeout

Malls in general are in bad shape, but CBL and PREIT in particular? Not positioned well. They own so-called "B-class" malls, which are located in less affluent/less urban areas. As retailers across the country shrink their real estate footprints, experts think these B-class properties will be among the first casualties.

This hits close to home, as CBL’s office resides in my hometown. Having watched their flagship mall (which shares a parking lot with their headquarters) die on the vine over the last three years, “this news was a "when, not if" scenario.”

📦 Distribution

'It's going to be hell': How brands are preparing for the logistical nightmare of holiday shipping – Glossy

The major carriers — UPS, FedEx and the United States Postal Service — are already delivering so many packages that they’ve been forced to turn away new customers. One report from FedEx said it expects to deliver as many as 7 million packages a day during the holiday season. Data from Salesforce said the total packages expected to ship during the holidays, around 700 million, is 5% more than the delivery ecosystem of the U.S. is capable of handling.

“Right now, UPS is at least a day late on everything,” said Guido Campello, co-CEO of intimates brand Journelle. “And it’s just going to get worse. It’s really hard, unless it’s just documents, to get anything shipped in a timely way right now. Space is going to run out and things will be late. We had a really important shipment for a big retailer that should have arrived four days ago, and it’s still not there. People will receive December orders in January. It’s going to be hell.”

🔒 Security

WordPress 5.6 May Break Sites on December 2020 - Search Engine Journal

One of the WordPress developers behind the jQuery Migrate Plugin said in a support thread that the plugin would become “useless” once 5.6 rolls out. Anyone still depending on it in December will experience the rubber bands snapping off their sites all over again.

Prop 24 Could Majorly Impact California Data Privacy. Will Businesses Comply? | Street Fight

“The privacy protections under the CPRA are more in line with the EU’s GDPR privacy regulation, with the exception of it making private browsing easier for consumers, expanding on the definition of ‘sharing’ personal information,” says Dan Clarke, president at IntraEdge.

The CPRA uses the term “data sharing” in order to close the loophole based on the CCPA’s use of “selling” personal data. Clarke says businesses that don’t have a DNS link currently are more likely to fall under the definition of “share,” and that could become a major problem when the CPRA goes into effect in 2023.

WordPress Update Fiasco

The fiasco began on October 29, 2020 with a routine update meant to address critical security issues. WordPress 5.5.2 was meant to prevent issues like Cross Site Request Forgeries, XSS (Cross Site Scripting) attacks and more.

Unfortunately, the update also introduced a bug that caused new WordPress installations to fail. This is how WordPress explained the bug:
“WordPress 5.5.2 …makes it impossible to install WordPress on a brand new website that does not have a database connection configured. This release does not affect sites where a database connection is already configured, for example, via one-click installers or an existing wp-config.php file.”
In order to fix that problem, WordPress stopped version 5.5.2 from rolling out to more sites. And that’s when a rogue update pushed itself out automatically.

🛠 Tips & Tools

Free Profile Pic Maker | Make an awesome profile picture from any photo

Make an awesome profile pic from any photo

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun

A Self-Care Guide to Help You Get Through Election Day

Today, I want to empower you with a few simple rituals you can use to manage your emotions and optimize your self-care, whether it’s Election Day or any other stressful moment. Drawing from my own experience, I’ve put together some easy and fun practices that you can use when the world seems like too much to deal with.

👋 Holla!

Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email newsletter@robbettis.com.