Google Shopping is slowly becoming the premier online battleground for anyone with plans to sell products online. With Google rolling out so many changes this year, retailers and brands will need to step their game up just to keep their heads above water.
Here are some key changes to keep in mind as you continually optimize your Google Shopping campaigns for better conversions.
Product Listing Ads Now in Image Search
Product Listing Ads (PLAs) in Google image search is here. While PLAs in Google Shopping target consumers who are close to making a purchase decision, PLAs in image search target consumers who are potentially at the beginning of the buying pipeline. Consumers typically use Google images to get a sense of what types of products are available, in an exploratory phase. Google refers to this 21st century window shopping as, “I-need-some-ideas-moments.”
Image Source: Google Image Search, August 2016
According to Google, 90% of smartphone users do not know which brand they are going to buy at the beginning of the buying pipeline.
Having your PLAs show up in image search will become a key touch point in terms of showing consumers that your brand is out there. Furthermore, on average, consumers interact with paid search campaigns during the first 25% of the buying pipeline, 50% during the middle, and 25% at the end. This means that the beginning of the pipeline is just as important as the end. Lastly, your PLAs will automatically start showing in image search if you are opted in to Search Partners, since image search is part of the Google Search Network. The only down side to this, however, is that there will be no way to exclusively measure metrics because the data will include other search partners.
Showcase Shopping Ads
Google recently announced Showcase Shopping Ads for mobile, which aim to help consumers find the perfect product from generic, non-branded search queries. When consumers type in a generic search query, Showcase Shopping Ads will show up featuring select brands instead of individual PLAs.
For example, when a user searches for “summer dresses”, Google will now showcase a handpicked gallery (or showcase) of dresses from select brands.
When a showcase image is clicked, the user will be taken to a Google-hosted brand page with a brand description, an optional promotional message, and featured products that match the user’s original search keywords.
Everyone’s ads are automatically eligible to surface on Showcase Shopping Ads, and Google creates the initial brand pages that show up unless the advertiser signs up for the premium version, allowing them to create their own initial brand page. You will only be charged when someone clicks on an actual product that is on the brand page, not when someone clicks on the Showcase ad itself. The premium version is still in the experimentation phase, and Google has not announced any pricing information yet.
This feature is aimed at capturing generic product searches that do not include a specific brand or retailer name. According to Google, roughly 40% of Google Shopping searches are generic in that they do not include a brand name. Showcase Shopping Ads, along with PLAs in image search, will increase brand awareness, as well as help drive consumer interest to your brand.
Customer Match for Shopping
Google also recently launched a beta to leverage Customer Match remarketing lists for Shopping. This allows you to upload Gmail email addresses, which are then matched to customers who are signed in to their Google account. You can then use this list to segment your existing customers into audiences and enhance your remarketing campaigns.
Willams-Sonoma Inc., a consumer retail company, tested Customer Match for Shopping and saw a 70% increase in click-through rate. They did this by remarketing to their existing customers who they found to be most likely to repeatedly buy from them.
Local Inventory Ads
In my last blog post, we saw how Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) help drive in-store traffic. New features have recently been added to LIAs that are bridging the gap between offline and online even further.
The first of these is a pick-up in store option. Sellers can now give shoppers the option to buy online and pick up in-store directly from LIAs. Best Buy tested this offering and saw its click-through-rate increase by 44%. Furthermore, over one million store visits were recorded during the 2015 holiday season alone as a direct result of using LIAs.
Google’s research found that 25% of shoppers who avoid physical stores do so because they say it’s a waste of time to go to a store only to discover that what they wanted to buy isn’t available in-store. This brings us to the other feature released for LIAs – the ability to view and search for in-store inventory directly in the Local Knowledge Panel.
With inventory visibility at the local store level, shoppers will have more reasons to pop in to brick and mortar stores without the fear of a stock-out.
This feature will only be available to sellers running LIAs.
Purchases on Google
Google started testing Purchases on Google last year, which will allow smartphone shoppers to buy products directly from Google’s search results page. The way this works is that participating PLAs will include a text button saying, “Buy on Google”. Once the PLA button is clicked, the consumer will be taken to a seller-branded page that is hosted by Google. This landing page includes relevant information such as product description, shipping, and expected delivery date. Consumers can also save their payment information on their Google account for an easy checkout.
This feature could be the game changer mobile shopping was waiting for.
Let’s consider the numbers. Google’s Android platform already accounts for over 70% of the smartphone market globally (Apple’s iOS accounts for 23%). With Purchases on Google linked to shoppers’ payment information on the Google Play Store, the possibilities for mobile shopping suddenly open up.
Another thing to think about here is the power of impulse buying. According to an eMarketer study, 83% of American millennials have made an impulse purchase. On top of this, 80% of American adults have admitted to making impulse purchases within the last year. With Purchases on Google, it will be easier than ever for someone to impulse buy your products while shopping on Google. However, this feature is still in testing with a few select advertisers and is expected to roll out later this year to all advertisers.
Bringing Everything Together
Google Shopping has become a key influencer at every stage of the buying journey, and consumers are making more online purchases than ever before. We strongly encourage you to leverage these opportunities, especially as the holiday season approaches.
Keeping track of the ever-changing search marketing world and optimizing every single campaign around them can be daunting. Contact us to find out how our team of industry experts can help you grow your retail business!