Gallery Ads Enter Beta—What E-Commerce Brands Need to Know

Gallery ads
Gallery ads
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Gallery ads were introduced in May at the Google Marketing Live conference, with the company stating that the new format would be rolling out to advertisers later in the year.

The new large-format ads are now in beta—meaning tha while there’s no official launch date for the general public, they’re likely to be here before we know it. 

E-commerce brands may see some unique benefits from the new format, which allows advertisers to show multiple products, views, and lifestyle shots designed to move more inventory. However, Shopping ads already do this and offer more flexibility to advertisers. 

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about Gallery ads so you can be prepared to master the format upon official launch.

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What Are Gallery Ads for?

Gallery ads are a new ad format that can be used in addition to text ads in search campaigns. 

What’s more, you won’t need to create a separate campaign to take advantage of the new format. According to Google, Gallery ads give businesses the chance to show off their brand with visuals, allowing advertisers to include up to eight images per ad. 

Each image can use a unique caption, and you’ll be able to add a CTA button at the end of the gallery. As per Google, Gallery ads have a unique benefit: they combine the searcher’s intent with high-quality visuals. This presents a major opportunity for brands to communicate more value to consumers.

Gallery ads have a unique benefit: they combine the searcher’s intent with high-quality visuals. This presents a major opportunity for brands to communicate more value to consumers. Click To Tweet

The new format provides a way for brands to tell their story in a visual format. They might use it to launch a new product using multiple shots that highlight different features and benefits. Alternatively, it could be used to showcase a new collection or a group of related products. Here’s one of the few examples currently making the rounds on the web:

Gallery ads
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Though it’s early days, so far Google reports that ad groups featuring one or more gallery ad have up to 25% more engagement (as measured by clicks and swipes) on top SERP mobile results. 

Why Should E-Commerce Brands Care About Gallery Ads?

As we’ve seen with the new Discovery Ads format, Gallery Ads are designed to connect with searchers in a way that you won’t get from text ads. Studies show that you have a measly 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression. Gallery ads bring rich visuals to the SERPs and show users what they’ll find beyond the click; as a consequence, they’re much more memorable than your average text-based ad. 

Right off the bat, it’s clear that searchers will have more context to interpret what comes up in the search results. This may even result in fewer irrelevant clicks and a lower bounce rate, which, of course, factors into your quality score. 

Gallery ads
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Where Will Gallery Ads Show Up?

For now, Gallery Ads can only show up in the mobile search results. And, given that there’s not much space on page one, only one advertiser can claim the position at a time. Meaning, Gallery Ads might be hard to rank for—and that number one spot could come with some high click-through rates down the road. 

According to Google’s Andy Miller, the search giant has plans to experiment with incorporating the new format on desktop, as well as in other Google products

How Will You Pay for Gallery Ads?

Gallery ads will be charged in one of two ways: clicks or swipes. Like traditional search ads, you will be charged anytime someone clicks on the ad and visits your landing page. Unlike traditional search ads, Google also charges for swipe interactions, which means that you’ll be charged whenever a searcher swipes through your photos. 

We’re not sure of the exact figure, but we’ve seen mentions suggesting that advertisers will be charged if someone swipes through at least three photos.

Based on the information that’s currently out there, this means that Gallery Ads will most likely be used as a tool for generating traffic and brand awareness. 

Miller also stated that marketers might not see direct conversions from the format, but said the ads might drive non-click conversions further along in the customer’s journey. There’s no word on whether a lead capture method will be added to the mix later on.

Shopping Ads, of course, track conversions, return on ad spend, and engagements—all while allowing advertisers to showcase “lifestyle” shots. In other words, we’re not entirely sure if e-commerce sellers will see many benefits from Gallery Ads as compared to their Shopping counterpart.

Who Are Gallery Ads For?

You may remember that time a few years back when Google rolled out a similar offering exclusively for automakers in an effort to capture near-me searches for auto dealers. Ultimately, the ads turned out to be something of a proof-of-concept, with Google reintroducing the ads as a new format that any type of business can use.

Gallery ads
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While you might assume this format is best suited for big brands with huge budgets, Gallery Ads can work for any brand that sells physical products, food and beverage, or experiences—essentially anything B2C—as these types of businesses tend to be more “photogenic.”

With that said, Wordstream brings up a good point here: product-oriented searches already bring up Shopping ads on mobile and desktop. Keeping that in mind, e-commerce brands may do better to focus on using the new format for awareness campaigns exclusively, as Shopping ads will cover commercial intent searches. 

That’s not to say you can’t benefit from Gallery ads. For example, if you’re an e-commerce company running text ads for keywords that don’t trigger PLAs, Gallery ads might be worth a shot. Additionally, you might look into the platform to run “lookbook” campaigns—i.e. a catalog-style spread that shows off your brand’s aesthetic, versus marketing specific items. 

Experiment with Facebook First

We mentioned this before in a piece about Discovery Ads, but it’s a smart idea to play around with Facebook’s Carousel ads and Instant Experiences to get a sense of how your visual campaigns connect with audiences outside of the Google Shopping format. 

Here’s an example from Pura Vida, which shows the product from a few different views:

Gallery ads
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Make sure you install the conversion-tracking pixel to measure your ROI and track actions that users take after clicking through to your site. You can use the platform to experiment with different goals like reach, awareness, and consideration.

This example from Lands’ End uses the carousel format to highlight a new collection. These are all different products, but they target the same audience.

Gallery ads
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In addition to tracking customer behavior and conversions, you can use your Facebook data to optimize future campaigns, build lookalike audiences, and export customer data for use in Google campaigns. 

Potential Challenges

As mentioned above, this ad format is currently in beta and is available in all markets, but only targeting the English language. 

According to iProspect, clients participating in the beta have found that Google’s review process is quite rigorous. They’ve mentioned that brands have uploaded compliant images, followed the rules for descriptions and CTAs, yet have not been approved to show their ads. 

Google will need to find a better way to communicate its expectations to advertisers, or else the format might not see widespread adoption.

Unlike Facebook’s Carousel Ads, Gallery Ads don’t currently offer the option to link each image to its own landing page. That small change could be an effective way to provide an even more relevant experience to viewers using different photos and CTAs to attract related, but slightly different segments. 

The format is in beta, so it’s possible that the setup could change before it’s released to the public. 

Bottom Line

Whether or not you’re on board with Google’s big changes to search, Gallery ads (along with some of the other new additions) stand to add more value to the SERPs. 

Images are a key part of selling many products and services, so there’s no doubt that this is a great opportunity for advertisers to connect with audiences in new ways. That said, e-commerce sellers already have Shopping and Shopping Showcase ads, which bring visuals into the search results on both desktop and mobile. 

As Google brings in more options for advertisers, making decisions about your campaign is becoming more complex. At Key PPC, our experts use new strategies and proven methods to grow e-commerce stores. Contact us today to learn how we can do the same for you.

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