Google Announces New Shopping Experience + Ad Features

At Google’s Marketing Live event and in a recent blog post, the platform announced a handful of new mobile Google Ads features and formats that streamline the shopping journey on mobile and provide an enhanced user experience. The updates include a revamped Google Shopping experience and three new ad formats: discovery ads, gallery ads, and showcase ads.

Revamped Google Shopping Experience

As part of the redesigned Shopping experience, mobile shoppers will now have a personalized homepage on Google’s Shopping tab. Shoppers can find recommended product categories and brands based on their previous shopping history, search histories, and saved products if they’re logged into their Google account. When ready to buy, shoppers can choose to purchase online, in a nearby store, or now directly on Google through Google Express and Shopping Actions.

Google's shopping experience

The new Google Shopping experience blends personalization with Google Express in a one-stop shop consumer journey where users never have to leave the SERP – yet another way for Google to compete with Amazon. The redesign brings ads, local search, and transactions together in one place to help retailers and brands connect with consumers across the shopping journey.

Discovery Ad Format

In 2016, Google introduced its first version of a personally curated feed. In late 2018, Google rebranded its feed to Google Discover. Similar to the Shopping redesign, Google’s Discover feed recommends new content to shoppers in a completely native ad format based on affinity to blogs, videos, or specific webpages recently viewed.

Discovery ads provide a new way to showcase your brand with a high-quality, swipeable image carousel that renders natively within Google’s mobile Discover page, the iOS/Android Google App, YouTube’s mobile feed, and Gmail.

Google discovery ads

Discovery ads provide an exciting way to reach people while they’re open to discovering new products and services. The discovery ad format exclusively targets the same affinity and in-market audiences that can be utilized in both Google Display Network (GDN) and Google Search Campaigns. However, users do not need to be logged into their Google account to receive any discovery or paid content.

Gallery Ad Format

Gallery ads are a new search ad format that includes a swipeable carousel featuring services or products in a more visually attractive format. Each ad allows four to eight images for users to swipe through.

It’s unknown how much search real estate Gallery ads will take up – our team has not yet seen any in search engine results pages. There will likely be one gallery ad with three expanded text ads. Gallery ads are only eligible to show in the absolute top position on mobile devices.

Advertisers will be charged on these ads after a click or after a searcher has viewed the third image. If a searcher does both, advertisers will only be charged once.

Google Gallery Ad Format

Showcase Ad Format

While Google’s Showcase ads aren’t new, Google announced they will start displaying in more places like Google Images and even the Discover feed.

Showcase ads only trigger on mobile results for more broad, general terms like “backpacks” or “furniture”. Originally intended as a discovery-focused ad format to drive upper-funnel nonbrand searches that introduce users to your brand or business, it makes sense for this ad format to start displaying in complete discovery-type placements.

How Could This Affect Organic Search Results

Every time Google rolls out a new advertising feature, it usually means organic search results are pushed further down the page. For brands, this means organic and paid search co-optimization is more important now than ever before. Paying to play in search will become more important for bottom-of-the-funnel searches. Search marketers should check to see if organic performance or click-through rates have been affected by these recent updates.

Revamped SERP Shopping Experience

As Google tries to catch up to Amazon, the new one-stop, personalized shopping experience stands a good chance of leveling the playing field. It is currently unknown if the new Shopping homepage will be populated with specific products – similar to Amazon’s experience – or if it will display broader product categories. We anticipate it will focus on product categories, meaning that when a user clicks on one of the pre-determined categories like “shoes”, the results will look the same as when someone searches for the query “shoes”. Our team will be monitoring to see if that “shoes” query will display results that go to the highest bidder, or if (like Amazon) there will be a “top-seller” ranking factor.

If retailers and e-commerce brands aren’t utilizing Google Express or Shopping Actions, it may be time to have that discussion. That said, it’s important to note that Shopping Actions are not purchased on a pay-per-click basis – instead, they are commission based. Reach out to your account manager for more information on commission rates as they are dependent upon product category and industry.

New Ad Formats: Discover, Gallery, Showcase

Google’s shift toward monetizing the Discover feed does not come as a surprise when considering the number of users engaging with its content daily. The new Shopping experience and ad formats can be used to drive incremental traffic to informative and educational pages that organic search may not rank for. If a brand has a longer purchase cycle, employing new ad formats within an existing paid search strategy could be highly effective.

From a high-level look at Google’s ad business, the platform continues to shift away from keywords (check out our piece on the death of the keyword for more) and focused more toward audience targeting. With the recent updates, search marketers will have to utilize in-market and affinity audiences for the new ad formats like Discover ads.

With any new ad format, Nina Hale recommends testing it to evaluate the click-through rate and conversion rate as compared to other ad types in market to determine the best mix.

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