May’s Google I/O Keynote came with some pretty massive announcements, including an Incognito Maps mode, Lens updates, and an all-in focus on achieving rich-result status in the SERPs.
Google Shopping is also in the midst of some serious changes, too. They’re rolling out gallery ads, expanding showcase ads, and integrating Google Express into Google Shopping.
Here’s a look at what’s launching and how new changes will have an impact on your PPC game.
New Gallery Ads
Google has been testing out gallery ads for a few months now, but they will soon be graduating out of beta mode and offered to the global search community.
The new ad format allows users to feature up to eight images at a time; this kind of gallery appearance means brands can stake a huge claim on the page. These ads will come with a 70-character limit description and three headlines to test, and they’ll show up only on mobile—though it’s possible we may soon see a desktop roll-out.
Google knows that images add up to loads of engagement. In fact, the search giant has reported that on average, ad groups with one or more placements in the gallery format have up to 25% more engagement at the top of the mobile SERPs.
Here’s an example of what you can expect to see in the near future:
Why Does This Matter for Advertisers?
Gallery ads represent something of an evolution in search marketing. For example, a collection of four to eight images means that brands have the ability to introduce a product line or tell a story. Galleries are a far cry from text ads, although they are meant to run in your search campaign ad groups along with text ads and—this is important—compete in the same auctions.
Showcase Ads Are Expanding
Showcase ads have been around for quite some time, but the latest update means that advertisers now have the option to appear for search queries with commercial intent, just like product shopping ads.
Before the update, retailers only had the option to run showcase ads as a brand awareness-type campaign, bidding on impressions versus conversions. Ads now allow you to feature images and pricing right there in the SERPs, but instead of sending users to a separate landing page, clicking an ad will expand it out, showing off a catalog of products.
Why This Matters to Retailers
This is actually pretty cool; Google’s new Showcase Ads will display in the results for intent-based queries like “women’s rain boots” or “queen-size mattress.” While the ads themselves look essentially the same as before, the ability to connect this format with a more concrete KPI gives marketers a better sense of how their ads directly influence ROI.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s harder to earn a spot in the Showcase Shopping results, so you’ll want to run these ads along with product listing ads.
Shopping Actions Program
Shopping Actions are a feature within the Google Shopping Network that allows retailers to show their products to shoppers on any Google surface and check out without leaving the search screen.
For shoppers, there’s a promise of a secure, convenient checkout process. Which, according to the Google Support blog, looks like this:
What Does This Mean for Retailers?
Well, Google says that there are two key benefits of becoming a Shopping Actions retailer. The first is that participation promotes customer loyalty—retailers can let customers know if there’s a special deal happening, or how they can get next-day delivery from a nearby warehouse. The second is that you can provide a frictionless experience across all Google platforms.
Google Actions ads are billed differently from CPC or CPE ads. With Shopping Actions, users will receive a monthly commission invoice from Google based on the number of products sold through the program.
Shopping Actions are currently only available in the US and France, and there are some eligibility requirements you’ll need to check out before signing up. For example, you can’t sell automotive products, alcohol, or subscription services through the channel. Most traditional e-commerce sellers (think clothing, shoes, cosmetics, sporting goods, electronics) should be able to participate in the program.
Shopping Gets a Major Upgrade
Google Shopping’s destination is getting something of a makeover: the platform is introducing a universal cart across its service platform, which includes Shopping, Search, YouTube, and Images.
The search giant has scrapped Google Express, and, according to TechCrunch, the changes here seem to represent a shift in how people shop and discover products online, whether it be browsing Pinterest postings or scrolling through Instagram.
Google understands that looking at products is an activity that takes place across multiple platforms—on social media, and of course, the full spectrum of Google websites.
For example, someone might watch an unboxing video on YouTube, search for a brand on Google, then click an organic result, or scroll through the Shopping tab to look for a specific item.
For Google, the opportunity is bringing these various websites together for a cohesive, Google-able experience. Customers will soon be able to filter products based on their favorite brands, read reviews, or discover new e-commerce stores they haven’t yet heard about.
What Does This Mean for Retailers?
Shoppers will now get a personalized homepage found within the Shopping tab, and according to Google, they’ll be able to discover and compare products in an immersive setting.
Brands can use the new Google Shopping as a way to connect with consumers at different points in their customer journey through branded videos, gallery ads, and more.
They’ve also incorporated a little blue shopping cart symbol, which functions as a signal to customers that they can make a purchase directly from the search results, with Google guaranteeing a seamless checkout and return process.
This little vote of confidence may help retailers with little brand recognition attract new customers. Still, it’s not entirely clear whether this multi-touch ad strategy will make things harder on advertisers working on a budget–or instead open up new opportunities to sell.
As it stands, the program is in beta mode, though interested retailers can sign up by filling out this form.
Google is hedging its bets on Discovery, the recommendations function that you probably don’t use on your phone. Part of their newfound focus on Discovery is a new advertising format called Discovery Ads, which will promote suggested content in the form of a clickable image or text ad.
Ads will be triggered based on relevancy, not keywords or commercial vs. non-commercial intent. So for brands, the main benefit of participating in this program is two-fold. You’ll be able to use this to gather audience data for further segmentation.
Ads will be displayed to users based on search queries they’ve placed, the videos they’ve watched on YouTube, articles they’ve read, brands they like, and so on—all logged through cookies from Chrome activity.
Why This Matters to RetailersFrom an ROI standpoint, Discovery Ads don’t present an opportunity to set conversion goals or closely match ad groups with buyer intent, but brands looking for another platform to drive loyalty, affinity, and awareness have an opportunity… Click To Tweet
With that said, whether this will be a worthwhile investment for brands depends on whether Discover ends up being a go-to for users—will people respond to another curated mix of ads and organic content? Or is this something that is falling out of favor?
For retailers, this added connectivity means that you’ll soon need to start optimizing not only for click-throughs and conversions, but also for display location.
2019 has been a big year for Google, and it’s safe to say that there are probably even more changes coming to Shopping in the very near future. Keep an eye out for Gallery, Discovery, and a whole new Shopping experience. In the meantime, keep working those CPC campaigns.
If you’re ready to grow your store on Google, we’re here to help. Our specialty is PPC for e-commerce. In other words, it’s our job to keep up with Google’s latest moves so you can focus on running your business.